Homegrown Social Media Platforms Are Here To Stay
Social media landscape in India is dominated by big names like Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, and Twitter. For example, a popular channel like Facebook has more than 300 millions users while Whatsapp has another 400 millions. Even a Chinese app TikTok had 150 million users. Besides, there are millions who are active on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Unfortunately, there is not even one Indian social media platform that is even closer to these behemoths in terms of popularity and user base.
Last year, in an unprecedented move, the government of India banned as many as 59 Chinese apps including the widely popular short video app TikTok. That was kind of an opportunity window, Indian developers had been looking for since long. Some smart entrepreneurs seized this opportunity to come out with their own app that can be truly described as the beginning of home grown Indian social media platforms. Let us discuss some of the leading names that have been creating a lot of buzz.
At present, with respect to the new IT act related to the functioning of social media, the government of India has taken a very strict stand against foreign based social channels like Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter. Therefore, time is ripe for domestic players to rise to the occasion and show to the entire world that when it comes to developing a versatile social media app, they are second to none, and they are quite capable of creating a product of international standard without any outside support.
The one name that comes right at the top is ShareChat, a short video, and picture sharing app. It is primarily a regional language social media platform that is changing the way in which the next billion users from India will interact on the internet.
ShareChat, the Bengaluru based app has over 60 million monthly active users spread across the country. It’s currently available in 15 Indian languages including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Odia, Kannada, Assamese, Haryanvi, Rajasthani, Bhojpuri and Urdu. In a very short period, it has become so popular that a brand as powerful as Twitter decided to come onboard when ShareChat raised $100 million of funding last year. The Indian app is silently leading a social media revolution with a strong focus on regional outreach keeping its unique identity intact. The current move of the central government against leading social media platforms that have serious privacy, cyber security and national security risks is commendable. It will be even better if they offer a helping hand to these homegrown social media channels because that will be also ideal for the growth of Indian startup ecosystem.
There is another very interesting app called Public, which is essentially a video-only social media platform. It has registered an impressive 50 million users who are creating more than one million videos every month. India has abundant talent and resources and the vacuum created by the TikTok ban is a blessing in disguise for Indian app makers to create products that have the potential to do well in the global market. Currently, Public app is available in five Indian languages: Hindi, Gujarati, Bengali, Tamil and Telugu, and is aiming for over 100 million active users by the end of the year.
Another worth mentioning app is Roposo, which is a short-video making app. There have been more than 65 million downloads of this app in the country. Post ban on the Chinese apps, most ex TikTok users, and influencers with huge fan followings of their own, have migrated to Roposo in large numbers. According to Mayank Bhangadia, Roposo's co-founder, it's a clean and ethical platform. The objective of Roposo is to provide every talented Indian with an opportunity to grow rapidly.
There is another purely Indian social app called Chingari that is creating a lot of ripples among users. It’s very similar to TikYok, the banned Chinese app. It has witnessed record number of downloads and over 2 million views per hour. The app was founded by Biswatma Nayak and Siddharth Gautam last year and is currently trending at the top on Google Play Store, and has already been downloaded over 3 million times. The popularity of the app is attracting a lot of investors who may come on board to help scale up its operations.
Connectd India is another very exciting app which has positioned itself as an all-in-one app with features of many leading apps. The USP of this app is its unique feature of anonymous counseling service which will likely make it acceptable among youngsters.The future of home grown social media apps looks quite bright, and it will be interesting to see whether they will keep their focus primarily on the Indian users or will become truly global.