A STAR IN DE­CLINE?

Twit­ter in In­dia has more to worry be­sides the bots purge.

Business Today - - THE BUZZ - By De­vika Singh Il­lus­tra­tion by Raj Verma @ De­vikaSingh29

TWIT­TER HAS, OVER the years, emerged as a com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion chan­nel rather than a so­cial net­work­ing site. This could be the rea­son why the com­pany la­bels its app un­der the ‘news’ cat­e­gory on Google Play. The com­pany has un­doubt­edly carved a niche in the seg­ment and started the year on a pos­i­tive note by reg­is­ter­ing the first-ever net profit and 335 mil­lion monthly ac­tive users. In its lat­est quar­terly re­sults, prof­its stood at $100 mil­lion.

While Face­book and In­sta­gram are clear lead­ers in In­dia, Twit­ter has held its po­si­tion among the top five and also re­ported a 17 per cent rise in rev­enue in FY2016/17. As per data from an­a­lyt­ics com­pany comS­core, Twit­ter’s to­tal dig­i­tal pop­u­la­tion in In­dia was 56 mil­lion in May 2018 com­pared to 21 mil­lion in Oc­to­ber 2017, a jump of 168 per cent. The com­pany is yet to file its In­dia earn­ings for FY2017/18.

Will Twit­ter’s on­go­ing clean-up drive to get rid of fake ac­counts and ma­li­cious con­tent im­pact its growth here? As de­pen­dency on au­to­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy is rel­a­tively lower in In­dia, and mostly man­power is used to con­trol con­tent, the im­pact will not be very dras­tic, says Su­veer Ba­jaj, Co­founder of dig­i­tal agency FoxyMoron.

But there are other con­cerns. While its growth has been steady, it is nowhere near In­sta­gram’s. Ac­cord­ing to Statista, as of July 2018, In­sta­gram had 67 mil­lion monthly ac­tive users in In­dia, mak­ing it a clear num­ber two. Ex­perts say most brands and mar­keters are now flock­ing to In­sta­gram in­stead of Twit­ter.

“Brands are in­vest­ing in Twit­ter, but the quan­tum is on a much dif­fer­ent scale. On Face­book and In­sta­gram, even smaller brands are in­vest­ing mas­sively, but only big play­ers in­vest on Twit­ter,” says Pooja Gu­ru­raj, Lead, Chan­nel and So­cial Me­dia, VML In­dia. “The ex­cite­ment of Twit­ter has moved on to In­sta­gram when some­one wants to cre­ate a buzz wants to get the word out there,” says Za­far Rais, Founder, Mind­shift In­ter­ac­tive, a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing agency.

Twit­ter has in­tro­duced sev­eral ini­tia­tives such as de­cen­tralised in­ven­tory and opened its dash­boards for bill­able pur­chase to woo the mar­ket­ing com­mu­nity and In­dian ad­ver­tis­ers. “How­ever, we have not seen any ma­jor re­turns from Twit­ter as an ad­ver­tis­ing plat­form. But in mar­ket­ing, we have seen peo­ple get con­verted from an­gry to happy cus­tomers, ” says Rais. “It is a great plat­form be­cause it still al­lows you to find peo­ple, en­gage with them and con­vert them into cus­tomers.”

Even then, Twit­ter only gets a small share of the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing bud­get and is pre­ferred as a chan­nel to man­age cus­tomer re­la­tions and mar­ket re­search. Also, with the growth of ver­nac­u­lar so­cial net­works in In­dia, the space has be­come more com­pet­i­tive. So, the com­ing quar­ters could be de­ci­sive about the so­cial net­work­ing gi­ant’s fu­ture in the coun­try.

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