Twitter invests in India’s ShareChat as local vernacular market burgeons

Twitter is counting on India’s largest regional social media platform to gain back its lost ground.

Source: Unsplash

India’s ShareChat, the country’s largest regional social media platform, said today it has raised USD 100 million in a Series D round led by Twitter with participation from China’s Shunwei Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and SAIF Capital among others that push its total funding to USD 224 million.

The funding comes at a time when India’s non-English language social media market is bourgeoning. According to a study by market researcher RedSeer Consulting, out of the present 530 million active internet users in India, 210 million users, with USD 300 billion annual spending power, prefer to interact in their vernacular languages.

And the vernacular segment is expected to touch 400 million Indian internet users in the next five years.

A Google-KPMG report also claims that 70% of Indians find digital content in local languages more reliable.

Riding on the new tide, advertisers are expected to spend more than USD 3 billion by 2023 on vernacular ads on social media platforms and apps. This explains the rise of a crop of vernacular social media applications such as Sharechat, Dailyhunt, 22 languages, and Roposo as India’s digitization makes its way into tier 2 and 3 cities, where English is still not the medium of communication.

Twitter, which had a rough 2018 financial year, has recently localized its India website by introducing content in seven Indian languages —  Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Urdu, Tamil, Bengali, and Kannada.

In India Twitter has 33 million monthly active users while WhatsApp and Facebook have each in excess of 200 million monthly active users. The investments in the largest local language social media might help Twitter reach out to more local users, especially those coming from tier-2 and tier-3 cities. ShareChat as of now has 60 million monthly active users.

ShareChat allows users to create, discover and share content similar to what users do on Tumblr and Instagram but in 14 regional languages making it popular in rural Indian cities.

In India, ShareChat also faces stiff competition from Chinese social media company ByteDance’s apps, TikTok and Helo. 39% of TikTok’s 500 million global users are from India, largely between the ages of 16 to 24 years.