India is Twitter's fastest growing market and the NYSE listed social media giant will continue to bet big on the Indian market. That's the word coming from Twitter India's Country Director, Taranjeet Singh.
In an exclusive conversation with CNBC TV18's Kritika Saxena, Taranjeet outlined Twitter India's review report on the year 2017 and the top trends that stood out, goods and services tax (GST) and demonetisation being one of the most important trends on twitter this year.
India is one of our fastest growing markets across the world and India is super-important in the global scheme of things, he said.
We are constantly making investments in this market, he added.
Below is an excerpt from the interview.
Q: We will talk about the year gone by for Twitter, but before we start, a quick work on where Twitter India stands right now in the global footprint? How has the last one year been for Twitter India?
A: India is one of our fastest growing markets across the world and India is super important in the global scheme of things. We are constantly making investments in this market. We have very recently launched Twitter Lite to ensure that people, whoever is on a smartphone across the country, even on low bandwidth, or low data networks have the access of using the tool, using the platform to get real-time information and to see what is happening across.
Q: When you say fastest growing market, where does India stack up? Is it the second or third compared to the developing markets?
A: Unfortunately, we do not give out specific country numbers, but rest assured, India is one of the fastest growing markets for us across the world.
Q: As far as the road ahead is concerned, where do you see Twitter's growth areas coming in from the India market?
A: We are seeing growth actually happening from all parts of India, specially with Twitter Lite coming in. It is becoming more and more easier for people across the country to us the platform irrespective of the data network they are on. We are seeing a huge amount of traction across Bollywood, across South India. It is amazing to see South Indian movies really gain traction on the platform in 2017 to the fact that Mersal and Bahubali 2 actually became one of the largest celebrated moments as hashtags on Twitter last year. It is great to see the diversity grow. So we are seeing growth across segments, whether it is Bollywood, whether it is entertainment, sports, news politics, governance, it is all across.
Q: So let us talk about the year-end review, some interesting points have emerged in the report. I see that the demonetisation and GST conversation are amongst the most popular trends that you have outlined. Do you see this year as being the year where important economic reforms have made it to the popular mass market in terms of conversations?
A: Actually if you look at it, anything which matters or which happens the way people talk about it on Twitter. Twitter is the place where news is breaking first and it is also giving an opportunity for users to come share their opinion and also get diverse perspectives, see every side of the story. So it is not only whether it is GST or demonetisation. We have seen this across other causes like triple talaq, we have seen this whether it is the Indian Presidential Elections, next year is going to be a big election year. We are seeing a lot of traction around political content. But what is more important is that there is a huge amount of diversity which has come across on Twitter this year. We are seeing women in India stand up for causes, you must have seen the hashtag, 'Ain't no Cinderella' which gained a huge amount of traction on the platform, enabling users to share their opinion and stand by a cause which they believe. So it has been an amazing year. It is just amazing to see all these things emerge.
Q: I want to talk to you about all these individual areas, but when you see the last one year and compare it to the year before, what according to you are the trends that really stand out which really did not make it to the headlines, did not make it to the conversation of popular discussion on Twitter of the year before, 2016?
A: It is the South Indian cinema gaining traction. Like I said earlier Mersal and Bahubali 2 becoming most influential moments of the year. What we saw was Mersal alone got almost 1.7 million tweets over a period of three days, this huge amount of traction while we all know that cricket is big in the country and people love cricket but it is really great to see the Women's World Cup gain a lot of traction and the tweets around Women's World Cup actually made it the most talked about women's sport even in India last year. What we also saw was huge amount of, things like GST, demonetisation, Indian presidential elections, what was really amazing to see that some of the moments like the Global Citizens of India initiative or the Bollywood glam around film fare or even Delhi pollution making it to global trends. And that was really interesting to see Indian topics emerge really strongly. And this is across genres, not really specific to a particular genre.
Q: Any trend that surprised you this year?
A: Actually no surprises. It is great to see people in India use the platform more and more. It is amazing to see conversations from all parts, all different sets of society, which is only bringing more diversity more in terms of gender as well as geographical diversity to the platform.
Q: If I talk about the economic reforms, to me, that stands out the most because GST and demonetisation is something that not everyone seems to understand but yet, it was something that people wanted to know more about. Compared to the year before, do you believe that these issues are now something that have become more of popular conversation?
A: I would not just pinpoint to particular conversations, but today, what we have seen is that people across India using Twitter, more and more people are using Twitter, more and more people are becoming part of conversations about things they care about, about causes they believe in. and it is great to see that participation, what is really important and good to see that it gives a user, gives them an opportunity to see all sides of the story.
Q: Were people supportive? Since GST and demonetisation, from an economic reform perspective, were people supportive of these reforms or what seemed to be the trend there? Was in more in favour?
A: Honestly, I would not be able to comment on that because like I said, Twitter, you get all sides of the picture. There are people who would support an initiative, there would be people who would be anti the initiative, but we would not be able to comment on a particular initiative or trend.
Q: I want to ask you about the column on the most followed. The Prime Minister continues to remain the most popular in terms of followers. Has his position in the last one year in terms of popularity solidify further? 52 percent is the growth versus last year in terms of the number of followers that he has.
A: Leaders across the world use Twitter very effectively. Most of the leaders across the world have been using Twitter as their primary medium of communicating with their followers or fans. It is great to see Mr Modi retain the number one position and an amazing growth for him of about 51 percent. What is really interesting to see was also two cricketers making it to the top-10, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. What is really great to see, a great rise for Mr Akshay Kumar, who came in within the top-five ahead of Mr Aamir Khan in terms of his popularity on Twitter grew. So it is amazing to see these shifts. And like I said, leaders across the world, celebrities across the world, eminent personalities across the world continue to use Twitter because it is a great way for them to connect with their fans and followers and probably have real time conversations.For more, watch accompanying video...