Social media in 2015 validated to be a gruelling battleground for social networks that competed in content dissemination, brands that got humane with native content, and interest based social media networks that re-established the axioms.

According to a report by eMarketer, ad spending on social networks is slated to reach $35.98 billion, representing 16.0% of all digital ads spending globally. While digital ad spending is on the high, constitution of the digital mix couldn’t have been more divergent. Earlier charted into buckets such as Facebook, Twitter and SEO, digital marketing mix now is a collaborative brief of content marketing, paid social media ads, and influencer outreach.

A quick throwback, summarizes 2015 as the year of a social awakening of a very different kind!

Permuted face of video content

From a source of entertainment to means of engagement – videos became the talk of the social town for more than one reason.

Facebook surpassed YouTube in terms of video consumption in 2014 itself. However, the arrival of short format and short-lived video content transfigured the dynamics further.

Players such as Instagram videos, Vine, Dubsmash, Snapchat videos and Periscope made videos a day to day form of communication. Statistics suggests that over 800 million photos and videos are uploaded on Snapchat on a daily basis while Periscope boasts of 1.85 million active users.

Rendering the YouTube-Facebook video battle archaic, peer to peer platforms un-conditioned the video view metrics as well.

YouTube counts a view only after 30 seconds of viewing; this was challenged by Facebook when it counted a view after 3 seconds of consumption. Snapchat however, stole the show by registering a view after a second a video consumption.

“Video content worked exceptionally well for brands and in some cases, the reach was even better than YouTube. We also saw an increasing shift in the 40+ demographics’ activity on Facebook,” expressed Premkumar Iyer, VP – Global Operations, Gozoop.

YouTube v/s competing platforms, witnessed lopsided dynamics also because of auto play of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat videos.

Videos for branded content

“In 2015, many marketers adopted video as an essential tool for conveying their brand’s message which led to the growth of new video platforms,” shared Pratik Gupta, Co-founder, FoxyMoron.

The rise of Video on Demand services gave advertisers unique opportunities to reach out to consumers more effectively. Content creators such as TVF and #Fame launched their proprietary platforms, creating more prospects for brands to co-create content.

Leading video content creator All India Bakchod (AIB) too, launched a marketing arm – Vigyapanti to empower brands with enhanced content marketing propositions. Their first video Creep Qawwali, with TrulyMadly proved to be an instant success.

Brands also resorted to native video content, in the form of mini movies which would be tied back to the brand’s essence. One such example is Anouk’s Bold is Beautiful series.

Breaking clutter with native content

Stirring away from hard selling ads, a number of brands were also seen relying on an active nexus of native content. Peter England advertised on ScoopWhoop through an article on Father’s Day, wherein instead of plugging in the brand directly – a few images of the article sported models flaunting Peter England outfits.

Unfurling potential of messaging apps

FICCI – KPMG report for 2015 projected mobile ad spends to contribute around 3% of total media spends by 2019. With location-based data, past usage and device information – mobile advertising especially through messaging apps evolved as one of the key trends in 2015.

In addition to in-app advertising and display ads, marketers were seen blending messages with contextually relevant messages.

“Conversation apps have become increasingly important for agencies to tap into; nearly 50% of all global conversations today happen through apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and the likes. In fact, Snapchat has been a revelation for the industry. Short lived content has become critical,” opined Keyur Barad, Founder & CEO, Gecko Worldwide.

Dentsu Webchutney ran digital campaign titled – Liquor Ticker for Cafe TC on WhatsApp. The low-budget campaign converted Cafe TC’s status into a running ticker and the profile pictures into ever-changing GIFs, to show a vast variety of content – from its brand new logo to the new menu and a host of offers. Users could send a screenshot of an offer they liked to avail it at the bar.

People’s behaviour is shifting towards mobile. From accessing social networks to sharing content – mobile is now the primary screen of communication.

To promote their mascot, Zenny in India, ASUS released his WhatsApp number. Users had the opportunity to welcome Zenny through the messaging app. The brand received 1500 chats including groups organically.

Facebook ascertained its mobile messaging game in 2014 by making its messenger mandatory. Utility services such as Flipkart and Quikr were seen launching their own messengers to suit the mobile-first communication method.

Paid social marketing catching up with AdWords

Organic reach through social media is now almost a myth. Like SEO, SEM and CRM, brands were seen reserving budgets for paid advertising across social channels.

Conversation with a social media freelance professional revealed start-ups and brands with limited social media budget reserve a minimum around of INR 3, 000 for paid Facebook push.

Facebook too revamped its paid advertising options with carousel ads and slide show. It also opened doors for paid advertising on one of its biggest investment – Instagram.

“eMarketer predicted a 33% rise this year early on. Our estimates, however, put it at close to 60% this year, especially with the launch of self-serve platform from Twitter and more ad formats from Facebook,” expressed Pratap Bose, Founding Partner & Chairman, The Social Street.

Twitter too opened up its paid advertising realms by making ad spots available to users who aren’t logged in as members. Marketers were seen warming up to paid advertising options across Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Snapchat however, emerged as the biggest winner of the game. Statistics project Snapchat to generate USD100 million revenue with options such as sponsored lenses and peak day.

Most industry experts place the hike in social ad spends this year between 20% to 40%. “Also, there’s now a separate budget for promotions associated with social spends which are almost 10% of the contract value in purely social content cases,” Rima Mukherjee, Head of Social Media, Happy Marketer told Social Samosa.

Coherence in influencer marketing

A study by Schlesinger Associates, showed that 84% of marketing and communications professionals will launch at least one influencer marketing campaign in the next 12 months (from May 2015).

Brands this year were seen moving beyond briefs such as tweeples with 5000 followers get in touch. Marketers were seen approaching influencer outreach according to their niche, by breaking down their objective.

Rise and rise of online dating

Dating apps began gaining prominence in early 2014, however, with Indians adapting to Tinder, desi versions of the app started cropping up.  2015 saw these apps flourishing.

Indian dating apps such as Woo and TrulyMadly ran their first advertising campaigns across platforms to cater to the increasing users. TrulyMadly which took off as a matrimonial site in late 2013 too was seen taking the dating app route this year.

“Connecting people in India is one of the most important things we can do for the world,” said Facebook, CEO – Mark Zuckerberg in October, 2015. With Indian internet users slated to reach 402 million in December 2015 – it’s the least that social media giant can do.

2015 for social media in India was a product of increased mobile users and internet reach. What further carved its path was the arrival of interest-based social networks such as Snapchat, Dubsmash and Periscope. With social media changing faces literally, India is bound to witness a social revolution of sorts in 2016.


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Saloni Surti
A writer by Karma, grammar Nazi by heart and traveler by hope, Saloni loves to pen about anything under the sun. With three years of journalism experience under her kitty, Saloni has tried hands on various beats including – Social Media, e-commerce, Mobile, Indian radio, Advertising, Food and Travel. Writing for various national and international publications has given Saloni an understanding of the science of social media.