NEW DELHI: Major advertisers including Frito-Lay and Nokia are looking to use social media to connect with their target audience in India.

According to Technopak, the consultancy, the web took a 2.9% share of adspend in the fast-growing economy last year, up from a total of 1.3% in 2008.

Some 25 million consumers in the Asian nation regularly use social media portals at present, and this figure is expected to increase by between 20% and 30% a year going forward.

Technopak reported that Frito-Lay, part of PepsiCo, is one company that is heightening its activity in this area at present.

Dell, the computer maker, HLL, the healthcare group, TCS, the business solutions provider, and Naukri, the recruitment service, have also adopted such an approach.

Nokia, the telecoms giant, has similarly employed this emerging channel to boost its position in India, which has been a key growth market for the Finnish firm during the downturn.

Viral Oza, the head of its activation, media, online sales and marketing operations, said "social media are an inherent part of our digital marketing strategy. We use various touchpoints on them to influence active online users."

Noel Swain, vice president of marketing at Cleartrip, an online travel site, added "our digital spend has gone up from 2% to 70%. The social networking space is seeing more allocation."

Orkut, owned by Google, is one of the most popular social networks in India, and Parminder Singh, business head of the search titan's local arm, was optimistic about its future prospects.

"Social media networks have gained importance with big and small advertisers. In the last one year, it has extensively picked up with small advertisers who've ramped up their budgets," he said.

"Social media are increasingly becoming an integral part of marketing strategies. They offer advertisers micro-targeting opportunities and the means to engage the user through communities and other applications."

BigAdda, a rival to Orkut aimed at 18–35 year olds, has previously run campaigns for a number of telecoms brands, and for Axe, the deodorant range made by Hindustan Unilever.

Shivanandan Pare, BigAdda's coo, said "with high engagement and increasing use of social networking sites, more advertisers are coming back to us."

"Progressive advertisers are increasing their media spends on social networking websites."

Data sourced from Business Standard/Hindustan Times; additional content by Warc staff