NEW DELHI: Brand owners in India are seeking to enhance their social media capabilities, reflecting the rising interest in this channel among consumers.

UB Group, the brewer, has attracted over 2m fans on Facebook for Kingfisher beer, and is boosting the share of marketing spend going to sites like Twitter and Orkut from 2% to 5% next year.

The firm, which also recently started selling Heineken in India, has recruited staff from Yahoo and other online operators to augment its understanding of the Web 2.0 arena.

"We want to become the largest liquor brand in social media and are now using such websites for consumer research," Samar Singh Shekhawat, UB's SVP, marketing, told the Economic Times. "Before launching Heineken in India, we got 500 responses for a consumer study within two hours."

Canon, the imaging company, has also been making greater use of this medium to inform key decisions covering everything from the colour of products to specific details regarding launch programmes.

Alok Bharadwaj, a senior vice president at Canon, argued its target audience neatly co-aligns with the demographic profile of most interest users, meaning social media must be an area of focus.

"The average customer age for gadgets is 20-25 years and a lot of transactions are happening online. So, it makes sense to create a separate team for social media," he said.

Ma Foi Randstad, the Indian unit of the world's second largest human resources group, has predicted that 10,000 new positions will be created in India by 2012 due to the growth of social platforms.

"The role of social media experts is set to become niche and specialised in India," said E Balaji, CEO of Ma Foi Randstad MD, suggesting demand would rise in sectors like FMCG, telecoms and financial services.

LG, the consumer electronics manufacturer, and Future Group, the retail conglomerate, are some of the additional brand owners currently recruiting experts in the social space.

Similarly, 24/7 Customer, a US consultancy, has hired 1,000 staff for its social and interactive media (SIM) teams in Bangalore and Hyderabad in just nine months, a figure due to hit 5,000 going forward.

"Careers in SIM offer candidates a unique opportunity to be part of reshaping the future of customer service as they learn to support emerging digital trends for Fortune 500 companies," Animesh Jain, chief delivery officer, 24/7 Customer, said.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff