NEW DELHI: Brand owners in India are increasing their social media spending, as they seek to engage consumers utilising this channel.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, the industry body, surveyed 1,400 executives, and reported that 75% had at least doubled their social media budgets levels this year.

More broadly, it revealed many of the featured firms typically now allocate 30% to 40% of marketing expenditure to digital media, reflecting the rising popular uptake of the web, both via PC and mobile.

ASSOCHAM estimated that the revenues generated by this activity stands at around 12bn rupees ($243m) annually in India at present, a figure likely to expand quickly going forward.

The organisation's study further suggested that social media spending at the individual company level is highly diverse, falling in the range of 200,000 rupees to 5m rupees.

Looking ahead, it predicted social commerce may rapidly gain ground, reaching a value of 100bn rupees ($2bn) in India by 2015, from a projected global total of 1.35tr rupees ($27bn).

An additional ASSOCHAM poll of 200 companies in Delhi found that 60% have staff solely responsible for monitoring online activity on official websites.

Meanwhile, 55% of firms boast employees dedicated to tracking brand buzz on social networks.

Almost 40% of enterprises started social media campaigns on a small budget, and had yielded a return on investment some three or four times greater than the initial outlay within six months.

Currently, a wide mixture of platforms are used in these marketing efforts, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn, as well as BigAdda, Hi5, Orkut and Friendster.

Nearly all of the Delhi-based businesses had also cut back on print advertising alongside heightening their focus on social sites.

Overall, ASSOCHAM stated there are around 80m internet users in India, and 60m mobile web users, with these audiences largely made up of individuals under 25 years old.

"Brands today cannot afford to ignore the significance of social media as a key medium to target their identified customers and connect with them," said DS Rawat, ASSOCHAM's secretary general.

Data sourced from ASSOCHAM; additional content by Warc staff