Twitter, the micro-blogging site which is fast catching the fancy of Indian audiences, recently acquired Bangalore-based ‘missed call’ marketing platform, ZipDial. This is the first acquisition by Twitter in India.
In an exclusive interview with Vibhuti Jaitly of Zee Media Group, Rishi Jaitly, Market Director, India and South East Asia, Twitter, talks about the acquisition, company's business strategy, Indian market and much more.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. How will the recent acquisition of ZipDial help expand and bring revenue for Twitter?
We want to make Twitter more accessible to people around the world. Over the next several years, millions of people will come online for the first time in countries such as Brazil, India and Indonesia. For many, their first online experience will be on a mobile device – but the cost of data may prevent them from experiencing the true power of the Internet.
Twitter, in partnership with ZipDial, can make content more accessible to everyone, wherever they are in the world.
Q. What does the deal mean for both Twitter, ZipDial and the 50 odd employees of ZipDial?
The ZipDial platform will be integrated into the core Twitter platform to further enrich the end-to-end user lifecycle and experience. We’re reviewing the product portfolio, but expect the majority of ZipDial’s existing product portfolio to continue. ZipDial has over 50 employees. We plan to continue leveraging the product and we expect most of ZipDial’s employees will be joining Twitter.
Q. What is Twitter's business strategy?
Our main objective in India is user growth, ensuring that every Indian with a mobile device derives value from Twitter every day. We are already the best place to keep up with the news, sports and with one's favorite icons. India is one of our fastest growing markets in the world, 2014 had been a great year for us and we have never been more optimistic about our potential to reach every Indian in the future.
Q. Where does Indian market stand in Twitter's growth plan?
India is one of our most strategic and important markets for Twitter worldwide. In India, we’ve been delighted to see our users use Twitter on their mobile devices to keep up with the news or follow cricket scores, to personally connect with their favourite icons, politicians and stars and to express their excitement and give their opinions on things that matter most to them.
Q. According to a recent report, Twitter accounts for only 17% of Indian social network users. How do you intend to increase the user base?
Users come to Twitter to discover content, connect with others around the world and express themselves. So it is no surprise that tweets that generate the best response are those which are personal, authentic, interactive and use multimedia (such as photos and videos).
The key is to begin by following accounts based on your own interests, finding others who share it, then striking up a conversation around the same interests. For example, there were nearly 60 million conversations on Twitter about the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in India which was more than all of the Twitter conversations worldwide around the Winter Olympics in the same year.
From the Lok Sabha elections to the Indian Premier League to Bollywood stars and movies, there’s never been a better time for an Indian to be on Twitter. We look forward to continued growth here.
Q. Why do you think users should come and use Twitter?
Twitter is an application for your phone where you can keep up with the latest news for what matters most to you -- your passions, your interests as you define it. It is your mobile microphone. Twitter is the best place to discover content, connect with others and even express yourself. We have a saying for new users: Follow Your World on Twitter.
Q. Social Media is gaining ground globally, what are your views on traditional media vs social media?
Twitter from the beginning has been a live platform, where information is shown to the user in a reverse-chronological timeline. This has made Twitter the perfect complementary news application from the beginning, especially considering it is the platform of choice for India’s journalists and newspapers.
Many people in India learned about Twitter during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, when users were tweeting from Colaba about their whereabouts and news channels were using these tweets in their coverage. From the women’s rights protests in Delhi in 2012 to last year’s Lok Sabha election, Twitter has given Indian users a front-row seat to the news that matters to them.
We look forward to continued growth as the world’s largest platform for live, public and conversations. And we are delighted at the way news organisations have embraced Twitter in India to share stories, break news and analyze Twitter data/content for their audiences.
People also use Twitter to share and keep up with TV shows in real-time, especially live sports broadcasts, award shows, and reality TV series. This is why many TV channels are embracing the use of Twitter. So, it's more symbiotic than you may imagine and the phenomenon of Twitter being the second screen is well and truly alive.