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GUEST COLUMN: The changing landscape of social networking platforms in India

Companies are leveraging the power of social platforms to increase brand awareness.

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Mumbai: Social networking and social media have evolved tremendously over the years. Social networking platforms have played a major role in facilitating the collaboration of people with similar interests by providing a way for people to interact instantaneously, without barriers, and using tools literally at their fingertips.

With the changing landscape of social networking platforms over the past decade, people have moved from in-person socialization to relying on digital social platforms to stay connected and communicate. This trend has been attributed to the rapidly changing pace of peoples’ lives and as they become busier their preference for the convenience social platforms offer becomes more apparent. People prefer being connected via social platforms as the ability for people to meeting in person has reduced. They now have access to infinite amounts of information about every member in their social circle via social media.

A few years ago, social networking sites were primarily used for sharing life updates, but their role has changed drastically. While at first largely used to digitally connect with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, family members; they have now become a storehouse with an abundance of information ranging from peoples’ whereabouts to current affairs worldwide, educational content, promotional videos, and entertainment bytes. All kind of information is available at peoples’ fingertips encouraging and allowing for active engagement with each other.

Social platforms have become mobile and portable all thanks to the increased usage of smartphones and the development of application-based versions. Additionally, due to technological advancements, companies have also started leveraging the power and vast reach of social platforms to generate leads, increase their brand awareness, and create a community for like-minded people so that they can support each other and engage in fruitful conversations.

The usage of social networking platforms has indeed witnessed a surge at the global level. While various factors contribute to this growth, the availability of smartphones at nominal prices and easy access to the internet can be suggested as the primary reasons for the inculcation of social networking trends.

Another interesting fact is that until a few years ago, social networking platforms were common amongst the urban population, especially millennials. Recently, these platforms have broken every demographic wall and quickly spread to people of all backgrounds including those of age, gender, and geography, becoming equally prominent in the non-metro cities, and are used for both information gathering and entertainment purposes.

Pandemic: Boosting the need for Social Networking Platforms

The occurrence of the pandemic last year contributed to the increased power of social networking platforms. With mass lockdowns, curfews, and shutdowns across the globe that took away the ability for people to socialize in person, people actively started relying on social networking platforms to stay connected with their networks, families, and friends. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, social networking online became a lifeline for many families and friends not only allowing people to stay connected but in fact, connecting people more frequently than before. Friends, families, and colleagues all saw a sharp rise in the amount of communication via video calls, social platform messaging, and overall digital communication. Social platforms provided a much-needed and critical avenue for communication to remain intact, and for people to stay connected to each other.

Evolution of social networking platforms in India

Currently, social media continues to evolve as a most vital tool for communication as it is equipped with the ability to exchange information, influence opinions, connect individuals, and nurture communities. In India specifically, the active number of people using various social media and social networking platforms continues to grow with each passing day.

According to a Datareportal Global Overview Report in partnership with We Are Social and Hootsuite, on average 1.3 million new people joined social media every day during 2020. This equates to roughly 15½ new users in the social space every second. It also states that more than half of the world, which is approximately 4.2 billion people, presently uses social media and social networking platforms. Smart Insights reports a similar trend and states that presently, 53.5 per cent of the world's total population uses social media and networking sites and the daily average social media usage is two hours 25 minutes.

As per Statista's report, in India a person spends approximately 17 hours on social networking platforms every week, and that almost every two in three Indians who are smartphone owners are present on some kind of social media or networking sites, and actively accesses it. It further states that the number of people on social networking platforms is projected to surpass the 400 million mark by the end of 2021, and it is anticipated to grow to approximately 447.9 million people by 2023.

These statistics depict that social networking and social media are transforming the way people communicate and connect. One might even say that social media and networking sites are the ‘new word of mouth’.

Summing up

Social networking platforms enable the collaboration of members who have shared interests and a will to connect with like-minded people. The increasing number of online communications via social networking platforms have paved the way for community building that brings like-minded people under one roof. They have enabled networking at a global level even during the present (post-lockdown) times. The landscape of social networking platforms has undergone a shift and continues to evolve and progress. This has further led to the online conversations in social networking platforms to soar rapidly and they show no sign of stopping as platforms continue to become more elaborate with new features and ways of connecting people around the world.

(Rebecca Garfinkel is the marketing and social Lead of ChekMarc. The views expressed in the column are personal and Indiantelevision.com may not subscribe to them.)

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