With TikTok, Dailyhunt, ShareChat and even OTT players Zee5, Amazon Prime and Hoichoi letting users post, watch and share content in the language of their choice, few are spending considerable time on Facebook.
By Sonam Saini
The availability of platforms serving content in various regional languages may have put a dent on Facebook’s user engagement. With TikTok, Dailyhunt, ShareChat and even OTT players Zee5, Amazon Prime and Hoichoi letting users post, watch and share content in the language of their choice, few are spending considerable time on Facebook.
According to RedSeer Consulting, the time spent on Facebook has reduced from 80% in 2015 to 43% in 2018. The perception of Facebook as an English platform, despite being available in 12 Indian languages, is creating a disconnect among users looking for more personalised content in their native language, pushing them towards other, more local, platforms.
Furthermore, the report states that users in rural regions spent most of their internet time on social media and content — much more than their urban counterparts — which has social media as well as OTT players vying for their attention.
Speaking the language
Mobile news app Dailyhunt, which is available in 14 Indian languages, has 190 million monthly active users (MAUs), according to RedSeer Consulting. User-generated platforms TikTok and ShareChat have 129 million and 52 million MAUs, respectively.
The numbers certainly point to the rising popularity of content platforms, all of whom are jostling for the same set of users along with Facebook. A dip in time spent on the social media platform, hence, is inevitable. These users spend 69% of their time browsing social media and content platforms, and 31% on music streaming services, gaming and OTT platforms.
“Native users feel less pressured while using vernacular platforms,” says Ujjwal Chaudhry, director, RedSeer Consulting. As per a Google report, vernacular language internet users are likely to account for nearly 75% of India’s internet user base by 2021. Where does that leave Facebook then?
“People are spoilt for choice with the availability of various platforms like YouTube, Hotstar, Netflix as well as podcasts. Facebook is losing users not just to vernacular platforms, but other platforms as well,” says Manika Juneja, VP operations – West and South, WATConsult.
However, it may be early days to write off Facebook completely. Rahul Vengalil, founder, What Clicks, says, “While the engagement on Facebook might have gone down, it still gives the maximum reach and targeting parameters to advertisers, especially with its family of apps.”
In 2018, India had an active internet user base of 530 million, comprising 260 million monetisable users. This is expected to grow to 400 million users by 2023. The RedSeer report says there are approximately 210 million monetisable vernacular users in India with a per capita average annual spending power of Rs 99,000 to Rs 1 lakh. The total annual spending power of this segment translates to Rs 30,000 crore, compared to Rs 15,500 crore of the monetisable English users.
“The ads on vernacular content platforms are getting a better response from users than those on English language platforms over the last few years,” says Nishant Singh Didawat, business head – digital media strategy and operations, Kinnect.
Marketers that target mass audiences, like FMCG brands, are opting for vernacular platforms for advertising. Although the trend of vernacular language advertising is nascent, these language platforms are innovating with newer ad formats keeping in mind the first-time interest users. “Brands are allocating over 45% of their budget to these platforms to target the vernacular user base,” says an analyst.