Our objective is to reach every single Indian, says Twitter India head

Manisha Jha | Updated on June 26, 2014

India one of the fastest-growing markets for Twitter

Two years after taking over as the captain of the India team at Twitter, Rishi Jaitly is bullish on the India growth story to go steaming ahead against fierce competition from rivals Facebook and Google. Acknowledging India as one of the strongest strategic markets with 33 million users as on March 2013, Rishi talks about the future roadmap. Edited excerpts.

How has it been for Twitter over the last two years?

As I reflect on the last two years, the difference is palpable compared to two years ago in terms of how central twitter has become to Indians enjoying news, sports, entertainment and television in India. Be it Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement or Rajnikanth joining Twitter, I am moved by how young people across the country are coming together to really discover the Internet and its power.

What keeps me most excited and optimistic about India is how users have responded to twitter and how the country has now become one of the fastest-growing markets for us globally.

How has your India strategy panned out?

Our number one objective here is to grow and reach every single Indian. Twitter was invented on SMS. India is a mobile first country with more than 500 million unique mobile numbers and India loves its media, so we think the intersection of all these things yields a situation where Twitter can add value and delight every Indian. That has been our mission for the last two years.

Specifically there are two specific fronts that we have been tracking to get to every Indian. One front has been immersing itself in India’s media business. The story we are trying to tell is that Twitter can be your mobile microphone to talk to your audience live, real time and in public conversation. The second front we are tracking is making twitter more accessible given India’s mobile environment through SMS and DTH.

How are you innovating on the product side at Twitter?

We are improving the experience of new twitter users by making it simpler and delightful with content coming first, so if u join today during the World Cup, its an entirely new experience. You get to choose your favourite team, see what others have tweeted about the World Cup.

We are also trying to make the product more media-rich with more photos and videos; so the last few months’ photos auto expand on the platform which has driven engagement further. Last six months we have seen at least a 25 per cent increase in engagement in media-rich tweets.

Lastly we are also now pushing our messaging service through our Direct Messaging (DM) tool In India. We have made the DM icon more visible which has led to an increase in DMs by 25 per cent.

With several twitter-centric innovations coming to light, is the company actively looking to create an eco-system of entrepreneurs and start-ups around twitter?

Indian businesses have responded very well to Twitter in India, be it carriers or entrepreneurs. Many innovations on Twitter have been built by entrepreneurs in Bangalore who are coming out with cool ways to connect to twitter such as SMS or twitter to television.

For example Zip Dial in Bangalore which has connected twitter account to phone numbers ensures breaking updates. Another example is Froll which specialises in curating and filtering tweets and making sense of them as they come through; it is working with Headlines Today for broadcasting tweets.

Since Twitter was founded there has been a network of entrepreneurs who have done interesting and creative things with twitter. This is sometimes as a result of association with Twitter, sometimes not.

Our message to the entrepreneurial eco-system is that Twitter is a place to innovate, build on top of twitter and do creative things with it. We are also excited to know what we can do with these innovations.

Published on June 26, 2014

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