A chat with Sunil Kamath, the chief business officer at ShareChat to understand the platform and nuances...
It has been four years since ShareChat's inception and they show no signs of slowing down. The company was founded by IIT Kanpur alumni who have come up with an advertising campaign titled - Tamizhan da, un nanbe da (The true Tamilian app, your best friend - a one-stop destination) to cater to the growing audience volumes in Tamil Nadu. Lowe Lintas conceptualised and executed the campaign.
ShareChat's journey began when its founders saw the popularity of Facebook and realised that it was mostly in English - that there was a huge dearth of regional content in regional languages. Regional language users didn't have a social network they could call their own. On existing social networks, regional content is usually translated and the message was often lost in the process.
We caught up with Sunil Kamath, chief business officer of ShareChat over the phone to understand the platform better. "Today, we currently support 15 Indian languages (including English). We are keener to on-board first-time internet users and regional language users and grow it at a much faster rate," he told us. He informed us that their main target audience is young adults between the ages of 15 and 24. The gender divide of the ShareChat audience is a 70-30 split (70 per cent male, 30 per cent female) from Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. He also mentioned that 70 per cent of ShareChat's total user-base falls into the 18-25 age group.
We asked him why this particular campaign focussed on the Tamil language despite South India being home to a diverse set of languages. He told us that the company treats all languages equally, but that they saw certain trends and adoption rates are better in some languages than the others.
"South India has always been a special market for us because adoption rates and engagement rates are much higher than the rest of India. There's a very clear entertainment content game running in those markets. If you go down to Telangana, Andhra Pradesh or Tamil Nadu, there's a very strong local ecosystem of content. Which is why we have always seen the South market engage better. Within that, the Tamil market is the fastest growing market in terms of adoption and engagement," Kamath explained. He also mentioned that for this campaign, the media mix spending is largely skewed towards TV followed by digital, then cinema and radio.
"We are not targeting print because the audience for print is a bit different from the audience for ShareChat," he mentioned.
One of the most prominent features of ShareChat is the ease with which a user can share content on WhatsApp. It raises a big question of privacy risks and the safety of a user's content. We asked Kamath what measures were being taken to protect personal content that a user might share on the platform and prevent it from being widely shared across WhatsApp.
He mentioned that a user has the option to disable WhatsApp sharing when they put out a piece of content and explained that ShareChat's algorithm is different from other social networks - "We are a content-based platform and not a people-algorithm-based social network like Facebook. We don't see a lot of personal content on the platform."
When it comes to original content, Kamath tells us that even though the content is shareable on Whatsapp, it is always attributed to the creator - "Fundamentally, when someone shares content from ShareChat, we want the creator to become famous. That's the primary aim of the platform. We're a 99.5 per cent user-generated content platform where users create content for the platform. Content can only go viral if you know who the creator is," he stated.
ShareChat also has a news section and Kamath tells us that political parties have used it to reach out to potential voters, so they take the problem of fake news quite seriously. "We've worked with a fact-checking agency (newschecker.in) and the platform has its checks and balances in place to verify information. That being said, news is not one of the biggest categories when it comes to consumption on ShareChat. But we still have to be responsible for the platform we run," he emphasised.
We asked Kamath if ShareChat is looking to get into the business of content monetisation anytime soon. He agreed that the market opportunity for the same is huge, but monetisation is not on the cards right now. "We have two options in front of us - either we build revenue or we could build a sizeable market. We've chosen the second because we want to aggressively build our market in India. We are very focussed on user-based, attributional content management to get more people to use the platform."
We inquired about ShareChat's main competition and Kamath told us that at this point, they're just focussing on being content aggregators. "It's difficult for me to single out a particular platform and say that they compete with us. I see a lot of regional users that could potentially be on ShareChat (on other social networks), so I don't want to single out any competitors in that space. We're focused on our journey at this moment," he said before signing off.