MUMBAI: Mahindra & Mahindra is one of a growing number of Indian businesses embracing social media as the likes of Facebook customise offerings for the country.

Chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra has more than 1.2m Twitter followers, some of whom are prepared to contact him with complaints about the company's vehicles or after-sales service.

By responding quickly, the company has been able to not only satisfy individuals but also to build engagement and loyalty in a market where word of mouth plays an important role.

Mahindra felt it was no longer necessary for executives to spend huge amounts on setting up systems to gather information from business units and markets.

"In one fell swoop, social media, particularly Twitter, gives this power to us at no cost," he told the Economic Times. "I receive real time critical feedback, inputs and market responses from the entire universe of our stakeholders."

This level of data means that he is not simply playing with a new toy: "Social media is not a pastime for 21st century CEOs but a critical tool for survival in the digital era," he declared.

As well as the MD's own presence on Twitter, Mahindra & Mahindra has 12m Facebook fans and a YouTube channel which has registered 33m video views.

Vivek Nayer, chief marketing officer, auto division, was enthusiastic about the possibilities these channels offered, not least as they were more likely to be used by younger consumers who, he said, were "the buyers of tomorrow".

TV commercials, for example, have been converted into Facebook apps where users can place themselves and friends into an ad and share it online.

Facebook itself is looking at how it can further adapt to India, having already rolled out a missed call capability for that market. One focus is training marketers and agencies to fully understand the platform's suite of services and the potential of "personalisation at scale".

India is now Facebook's second largest market with 100m users, four fifths of whom sign in via mobile. Dan Neary, vp/ Asia Pacific, Facebook, noted that CMOs looking for a mobile strategy effectively had one already when they used Facebook.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff