Instagram Reels can give rise to big global stars from India: Ajit Mohan, Facebook

Facebook India MD Ajit Mohan discussed the country's unprecedented digital transformation and its impact on consumers in the virtual edition of BW Dialogue

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jul 11, 2020 8:45 AM  | 4 min read
Ajit Mohan

India is one of the world’s largest digital economy, second only to China. The country has more than 480 million active internet users, which makes it an important developing market across the globe. To understand how digital technology can influence consumer behaviour and why India is a significant digital market globally, BW Business World invited Ajit Mohan, Managing Director, Facebook India for the virtual edition of BW Dialogue. 

Mohan, in conversation with Dr Annurag Batra - Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media & BW Business World, discussed the topic 'Leadership and Digital Economy', and spoke about the unprecedented rise of digital transformation in the country, digital influence on Indian consumers, and expectations from leaders and leaderships.

Taking about the current situation, Mohan said that India is currently dealing with a difficult moment, and Facebook is trying to contribute towards India’s fight against Covid-19 on both economic as well as healthcare fronts.

He informed, “On health care front, [Facebook] has joined hands with the governments across India to make sure that people have access to accurate health-related information. We also created a $100 million global fund for small businesses.”

According to Facebook MD, his company created Covid-hub, an information portal that gives people one-click access to all the pandemic related information.“Around 2 billion people saw that hub, and more than 350 million people clicked on it and actively engaged with the information aggregated there”, he added.

Mohan informed that Facebook is focused on India’s economic revival, especially the revival of small business. He said, “I think it has always been a particular strength of ours, in terms of helping small businesses, activate markets, reach out to potential customers.”

Talking about where India figures in the company’s global schemes, Mohan said the country is a very important global market for Facebook. “ We invested $5.7 billion in Jio. It gives a good view of how we are leaned in towards India. The largest communities on both Facebook and WhatsApp are from India. Instagram has been growing dramatically in the country. The role these three apps play in India is deeply immersed in the fabric of the country. We can’t conceive of a reality where our daily lives don’t begin and end with WhatsApp. Facebook also plays a particular role in connecting friends and family”, said the MD.

Emphasizing on the importance of India, Mohan added that, “If you look at the last 5 years, digital played a particular role in transforming India. No country, not even China, has gone through a period, where in 4 years we have seen nearly 450-500 million people come online and have access to affordable high-quality mobile broadband. Jio played a pioneering in it. India has brought more people online and gave them cheap access in the shortest period of time and it's just the beginning. It just sets the foundation for lighting up all kinds of industries. We have brought consumers online, the next task is to bring 60 million small business online.”

He further added that as an American tech company, Facebook values that India is an open democratic country. He said that Facebook thrives on the openness of the internet in the country.

Mohan also talked about the recent growth of Instagram and it’s recently launched short-form video product, 'Reels'. In his words, “Growth of Instagram has been phenomenal in the country. It has played a defining role in shaping global culture. Instagram has been extremely successful with IGTV, and stories, and feed itself. We saw an opportunity for creating short format video, now we have tested Reels too.” 

The Facebook MD took the opportunity to clear the air about the reason behind launching Reels in the Indian market before anywhere in the world. He said, “ India is the top of the chart whenever we think about any product introduction. [The idea] was in the box for a long time. This was the perfect time to implement it. I am excited about Reels because I feel big, global stars can come out of India. If we look at the growth of Instagram, it has grown rapidly in the public narrative.” 

He added that in the past year, they have noticed an increment in content creation from smaller cities and town, other than the large cities, and that gave them sense about how deep Instagram has penetrated the society. Instagram is the place for big celebrities with existing followership, and that will continue to be the case, but Reels also opens the gate for new creators. 

He concluded the session by advising the young professionals who want to make big in the digital economy and be open to learning new things. He said, “Openness and learning agility are the two leadership skill people should practice.”

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