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, Co-founder 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.