Its own mother brand Facebook grew by 16 per cent to 380 million users, while LinkedIn grew by 20 per cent during the same period
In the last 12 months, the number of Indian users of Facebook’s picture and video sharing app Instagram grew by more than 66 per cent — from 77.4 million to 129 million — according to data from NapoleonCat, a social media management tool, which analyses data on apps globally. Beloved of teenagers and the youth, Instagram is now the fastest growing social media app in India. Its own mother brand Facebook grew by 16 per cent to 380 million users, while LinkedIn grew by 20 per cent during the same period. Discerning the trend, Instagram has been making India its preferred testing ground for many of its new products. On Wednesday, Facebook launched a test version of “Instagram Lite”, and India is one of the first few countries where it is being rolled out. The new version requires only 2MB of storage. Hence, it can be used by a larger number of consumers who may have low-memory phones. Also on the cards is the possible entry of Instagram’s shopping and e-commerce offering, which has already been launched in some countries like the US. That’s not all. It is coming up with a suite of new products which will help the company as well as creators of content get more opportunities for monetisation. Says Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram: “We’re going to continue to focus on Instagram as it is quickly becoming one of our most important markets worldwide. (According to estimates, India is the number one market after the US). We have grown an immense amount in the last year.” Mosseri also gave indications of Instagram’s monetisation plan. “A lot of people make a living out of Instagram. And we want to ensure that we create a suite of products over time, so that different businesses can take advantage of different services. We hope to create a whole set of tools to leverage Instagram,” he said. Of course, Instagram has had its share of luck in India. The lockdown spurred a huge demand for the app — in the first week of the lockdown (from March 18-24), the number of live views went up by a staggering 60 per cent.
And India’s ban on the Chinese app TiTok (which had over 200 million users in the country) in end June, helped Instagram’s prime new feature, Reels, which is a short (15-second) video-sharing platform, take off in a big way. By the time it was tested in India in July, millions were looking for an alternative to TikTok. Needless to say, Reels profited from that vacuum. According to NapoleonCat, Instagram had around 94 million users in May this year.
The popularity of Reels, which is now present in 50 countries, can be gauged from the fact that two out of every five top songs shared globally are by Indian artists. To push the product, Instagram went for a consumer marketing campaign for the first time. The “Do your thing” campaign on television and in the digital space, focused on popularising Reels during the Indian Premier League. But Instagram has some serious competition, too. According to data from App Annie, which ranks all apps based on downloads, Instagram has quietly climbed from number 8 on November 16 to number 5 on December 15. But in the social app space, it faces tough competition from MX Taka Tak (which saw its download ranking go up from 24 to 2 in the same period) as well as Moj and SnapChat, both of which are ahead of Instagram. Currently, first generation urban brands are using Instagram to advertise their products. However, Facebook has been behind Google in terms of advertising revenues in India and so far, the contribution from Instagram has been very small. Out of the total advertising revenue of Facebook and Google, which was around Rs 11,500 crore in FY 19, Google had an 80 per cent share of the pie. However, the two control over 70 per cent of all digital advertising revenues. Those in the know say that in India, Instagram is focussing not just on teenagers, but also on the youth. According to NapoleonCat, while 53.9 per cent of the users are in the age group of 13-24, a substantial 33.1 per cent are between 25-34 years. However, unlike developed markets, where the ratio of men and women users are near equal, or there is a preponderance of women users, in India, Instagram’s popularity is heavily skewed towards men. In November 2020, for instance, 72.3 per cent of the app’s Indian users were male, while in the US during the same period, they were only 42.7 per cent.