Thursday, 18 September 2014

Three reasons why we Indians prefer Facebook over Twitter

Social Media is one of the main reasons behind India’s 250 million people being online. 86% claim to visit social media sites and if reports are to be believed, on an average, Indians spend 217 minutes daily on various social media sites.

Yes, we love social media, albeit some sites a little more than the others. Facebook has 108 million monthly active users. Since January 2014, it has added 16 million users – roughly one new user every second! However, unique visitors of Twitter rose from 3.9 million in 2013 to 4.2 million in 2014 accounting for a y-o-y growth of 8.7%.

Why do we prefer Facebook over Twitter?

After observing and asking around, I have found three key reasons: 

1. It’s social Vs. Media

Facebook is like a telephone. It is based on a two-way relationship. By granting access to our Facebook page, we allow other people to be a part of our lives as it happens. From last night's dinner to what I think about the country's politicians, we discuss it all. The joy of Facebook engagement comes from reciprocation via likes and comments from our friends.

On the other hand, Twitter is like a customised newspaper. It is about time sensitive information and opinions. Just like viewership and circulation figures of traditional media, the gratification lies in the number of followers and the power to influence the people who follow us. But most people are happy to 'influence' or share their opinion with friends and family who are already connected to them on Facebook and chat apps such as Whatsapp and do not feel the need to 'influence' the janta, leaving it to the journalists, film stars and politicians.  

Facebook is more ‘social’ while Twitter is more 'media' and no prizes for guessing who will continue to win until the perception changes.

2. Brevity is not a part of a Indian’s soul

Twitter is a great place to debate for people who feel strongly about certain issues. However, we Indians feel that 140 character limit makes most conversations shallow. A good debate or a point of view needs a few more words than that. Don’t get me wrong. We are not ramblers. Just expressive and emotional!  

3. It seems like a traffic jam

Ever been in a rush hour traffic jam in Mumbai? It seems that’s what the newsfeed look and sounds like to most reluctant Twitter users. The only difference is that it moves too fast. The constant stream of opinions is harrowing. Specially on a mobile, the word heavy, picture and video deficient news stream is a tad too daunting.

For most people, the joy of social media lies in the voyeuristic pleasures of peeping into the lives and minds of people they know and not in the opinions of the people they don't knowTwitter is perceived as a great platform by those who want to influence and those who want to get influenced. Despite its video and picture sharing features, it is still not perceived as a medium for the hoi polloi to communicate the banalities of everyday life. So as long as Twitter carries the weight of a serious medium, we Indians will spend more time on Facebook. 

Friday, 5 September 2014

The Importance Of Being In Beta

While looking for an important document this morning, I found my little BlackBerry Curve buried under a few files inside a drawer.  I loved this little phone. This was my first smartphone, my entry into the world of nonstop access to Internet on the go!  

I remember a time when only senior management and other god like creatures had the power to posses this super efficient handheld device. Their emails, which they sent on the go, invariably let the receiver know their status in the corporate world, as a tag under the email would mention that the mail had been sent via a handheld BlackBerry. While some sneered, others envied.

I must admit I envied every BlackBerry enabled individual. The way their fingers glided over the Qwerty keypad, access to emails at all times and above all, the label that screamed that they had arrived in the corporate world – was a matter of aspiration for me.

As time went by, as certain as measles, chickenpox and common cold in childhood, a corporate BlackBerry happened to me. But pretty soon its magic wore off as around the same time, I acquired a first gen Android phone with a touch screen – the novelty of the time. 

Looking at this dead device on my table right now, I am thinking of all the iconic brands, people, companies that have fallen from the limelight only because they mistook their current success as eternal. Size or popularity no longer guarantees immortality. In every category, the rules are being rewritten everyday, not by the leaders but by the nimble and agile upstarts.

The only way a brand – be it a person or a product can hope to survive in today’s world is by being in Beta always. There is no running away from re-invention. It is a new value that everyone has to imbibe. Stability and conformity will only lead to one state of certainty - death. 

Before your brand is put in a little box of nostalgia that contains valuables such as Ambassador cars, typewriters and even a BlackBerry phone, it might be good idea to look around and see if you and your brand is ready to be in a state of perpetual beta. If not, then its time for a shake up. Time to change.