Facebook is adding marketing muscle in India, the second-biggest global market for the social media platform, as competition for users intensifies in a country that is among the world’s youngest and has the cheapest data tariffs.
The plan, sources told ET, is to enhance user engagement across the suite of apps – Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. The move comes at a time when Chinese video-sharing networking service TikTok is adding users in India, where Facebook launched in 2006.
The Menlo Park-based social network, owned by tech billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, has hired Avinash Pant to head the marketing function of all the Facebook apps in India, a newly created role. Pant is currently director of marketing at Red Bull India. Facebook and Pant could not immediately be reached for their comments.
Pant, sources said, will join Facebook in March, and will report to Ajit Mohan, VP and India head.
The move comes a year after the overhaul of the business structure at the social network, wherein India became the only territory to house all products and functions under one unit.
At Facebook, Pant will have to drive a positive messaging around the user data privacy and safety and also on curbing fake news – issues that have plagued social media platforms.
“Facebook doesn’t have to spend on marketing to bring in new users. Almost all the smartphone users have WhatsApp, and Facebook must be among the top five apps they use. The task will be to arrest the negative publicity surrounding the fake news and privacy,” said a marketing expert.
Sources close to the company said that Facebook is planning major campaigns for its apps in India through stories that would connect its brands.
“As Facebook will be going from almost no consumer marketing to a massive investment phase, Avinash will be tasked with building the brand narrative in India, a country where consumers love to interact with the brands that talk to them,” said an industry source.
An IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, Pant has headed marketing for Nike India, The Walt Disney Company and Coca-Cola in India, in his earlier stints.