Brand News

Why Does Facebook Need to Advertise in India?


India is the second biggest market for Facebook (after US) with over 125 million users. According to several reports, the social media platform boasts of having a community of over 100 million active users in India at present. Interestingly, these reports also pointed out that the Facebook community in India consists of 75% male users and 25% female users.

Facebook would really want to add more female users to the community as it would increase the community strength and generate more eyeballs to the advertisers.

In order to do so, the brand has taken the route of advertising. Yes, Facebook, one of the biggest advertising platforms is now advertising in the Indian market to reach out to more women audience for its platform.

Titled as ' Share the Magic', the campaign encourages women in smaller towns across India to share more on Facebook. Designed and conceptualized by Taproot Dentsu, the campaign includes three films - ' Clothes', ' Sangeeta' and ' Jhansi'. These films aim to re-introduce the magic of Facebook to those who have taken to it but not to sharing on it. Each film holds a mirror to how sharing on Facebook goes beyond the online world to real-life friendships and relationships. From getting in touch with long lost friends to bridging the generation divide, Facebook is at the heart of joyous moments every day.

A Facebook spokesperson says, "The video ad campaign is to educate women on how to share safely (using privacy settings, etc) on Facebook, its targeted to women on Android Phones."

Santosh Padhi, Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder, Taproot Dentsu, says, "It was important to have a more human / real approach. Without pushing too much we wanted to communicate how the brand can play an important role in their day to day life to bond with their friends and families. I think we were successful to get every single bit right, be it the conversation, cast or set up, all of these captures the TG's world very well."

Interestingly, Facebook says that while a majority of women were accessing the platform through their mobile phones regularly, they were not sharing as much personal content in the form of posts, videos or pictures but viewing other content as passive consumers. The objective of the campaign was therefore to help them rediscover the joys of sharing, specifically on Facebook, and all the wonderful things that it leads to.

The social media platform has broken the campaign into two phases- the first phase being to inspire sharing again through a series of films and then following up with education on safety features within Facebook.

Why Advertise?
When I told a friend that Facebook is advertising, he was amazed and asked a simple question - Does Facebook really need to advertise in India? I think this question is legitimate because Facebook is a popular medium, that cuts across age-group and socio-economic profiles. Advertisers across all categories use it to reach the digital savvy audiences. So the big question is how will advertising help Facebook and why in the first place it needs it?

Speaking on it, Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO, Mirum India shares that Facebook might have researched about its user base and found that it needs to seriously tap members of other age-groups apart from youth in India to grow to next level.

"Smartphone users especially youth have embraced the social media network, but now the brand seems to be targeting women and people above the age of 40 as they are also the smartphone users. Facebook clearly wants the latter to be active as they might have discovered it to be a high growth area. Also the ads are nice. It is absolutely fine for Facebook to advertise as some of the biggest brands of the world also need to advertise at times to get to their objectives," adds Mehta.

To this, Rameet Arora, Digital Expert, adds that every brand needs to advertise whether big or small. "Advertising has a purpose as it re-assures the consumers on the product. In this case, Facebook is clearly targeting a new user base - aunts (bua, chichi, mami). So, these ads will re-assure this community that Facebook is also for them. However, one may say that Facebook is big in India but in reality, everybody is not on it. From the creative point of view, the brand has attempted an authentic honest approach but it does not really do the magic," shares Arora.

While Nimesh Shah, Head Maven, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder, Windchimes Communication opines that Facebook is advertising for two reasons. "First is to increase the pace of penetration in India as it understands its potential. It realizes that the next set of users will come from Tier 1&2 towns. It also goes well with their initiative, which is providing free Internet services to rural areas. That is also the primary reason of doing in in Hindi with subtitles in Hindi. The second reason is to showcase the features i.e what all people can do on Facebook and how it can bring people together," shares Shah.

On Facebook's ploy of targeting these ads towards women, Shah adds that a typical Internet usage gender ratio has been 70:30 favoring men. "It clearly shows that the potential to increase women participation is higher. Also women are wary of sharing their personal information on Internet including social media sites, so this campaign reassures them on it being safe and helps in connecting with friends. And, of course, if more women join Facebook, more men will follow the platform," shares Shah.

We have learnt that Facebook is only promoting the videos on its own platform. So, it is clear that the brand is not opting for a bigger media spend, but leveraging its own reach. So, this leads to another question - Should Facebook advertise on other media platforms as well, if at all.

Arora shares that their media plan solely depends on the objectives. "If Facebook is aiming to target everyone including those who are not present on its platform then it would be wise to go for a mass media. However, if it is aiming to connect with the passive members of the community, then it is fine to promote the videos via its own medium, since it has a huge reach," adds Arora.

To this, Mehta adds that a media plan only depends on how much the brand wishes to spend. "If it has allocated bigger spends, then it can go for mass media, however, if not then it has its own medium," shares Mehta.

Mass media or not, we don't really think that Facebook does need any introduction in India, however to see more Indian women use the platform, will indeed a welcome development.