We are witnessing downloads to the tune of half a million every hr: Farid Ahsan, ShareChat

Co-founder Farid Ahsan says ShareChat’s biggest focus now is on driving good performance advertisements and solutions for brands

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Jul 27, 2020 8:45 AM
Farid Ahsan

Share chat seems to be leading the way amongst the indigenous players to fill in the void left behind by TikTok and the other Chinese social media apps. The half decade old social media platform, specialising in regional content, is not just getting unprecedented traffic but also working on retention of these new users.

In a chat with exchange4media, Farid Ahsan, COO and Co-founder, ShareChat, spoke about the growing traffic, demand and monetisation. “While there are many ways we continue to experiment on monetisation, our biggest focus is on driving good performance advertisements and solutions for brands,” he said.

Edited excerpts:

Do you think the current rate of download growth is sustainable? What do you think would be the stickiness of all those coming to your platform post the ban imposed on Chinese apps by the government?

 There is a vacuum now created by the absence of multiple large content players. Therefore, people are flocking onto content platforms and exploring them. 

We are also witnessing downloads to the tune of half-million every hour and it’s growing ever since the government put a ban on 59 Chinese apps citing national security. However, our focus is purely on user retention and we have seen our monthly active users spike to more than 120 million now. Scale happens automatically when you become the most relevant platform for the mass audience.

ShareChat began its journey in 2015. There were social media platforms existing even back then, but all of them were in English.  Indian internet users hailing from Tier II and Tier III cities found it tough to be expressive in English. There was a content vacuum in the Indian languages space and ShareChat was created to address that need.

And in the last five years, we've built a completely new category for Indian social media. It did not exist before Sharechat and we are proud of that.  We will continue with our efforts towards product innovation and we will keep exploring newer features that enhance stickiness on the platform.

Is the current growth in traction also reflective on the monetization options of the platform? Tell us about the brands you are already working with and the marketing tools that the brands can use on your platform to target their customer base.

While there are many ways we continue to experiment on monetization, our biggest focus is on driving good performance advertisements and solutions for brands. Our ad journey is just a few quarters old but our ad tech has come a long way. We already have very favourable responses from brands. In less than a year, almost 100 brands have signed up with us.

With increasing internet penetration, brands are very interested to reach out to the mass Indian audience and only ShareChat can offer the user engagement that brands need beyond metros and Tier I cities. With ShareChat’s scale and massive reach among native language speaking population, it is becoming an important destination for brands to maintain a recall heartbeat with their consumers.

If you look at the growth of the internet today, more than 90 per cent of users are coming from non-metro cities unaware of the nuance of the western internet. We are at the forefront of this Indian internet revolution. Users are coming to ShareChat to discover content, and also consume content in the comfort of their own language, societal norms and interests. 

Many brands are taking innovative approaches to effectively engage with the language-first internet users. To cite an example, Bhasha Divash is a well-celebrated event in Bengal. Coca-Cola did a Bhasha Dibosh special with ShareChat users, and used # ভাষার প্রিত ভােলাবাসা to connect with the audience. The campaign integrated during Bhasha Dibosh to connect literary behaviour with Bengali users on ShareChat’s platform. The purpose behind this campaign was to rekindle people’s lost love for writing in Bengali and hence wanted to drive communication for the same. It generated almost a million views among Bengali users in a span of 3 days (January 20, 2020 – January 23, 2020).

Did companies who were running active campaigns with any of the Bytedance or other similar Chinese app platforms make an overnight shift to Sharechat?

While we cannot comment on any external factors, we have seen a significant surge in terms of brand queries and advertising spend on the platform. 

Are you looking at any technical updates to manage the sudden explosion of users?

This is where ShareChat is uniquely placed. We were already operating at a large scale before this growth phase, and hence scaling up further with this surge was never a problem. The platform is robust and flexible enough to manage any scale at any given point of time.

Are you planning to move from just vernacular languages to English as well and target Tier 1 audience?

The platform was built with a vision to make the internet experience comfortable for the people in their preferred language. We will continue to put our efforts in that direction.

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