How PayTM used social media to outperform its competitors during demonetization

#demonetization #paytm #social media

Demonetization was tough for India, wasn’t it? The only companies who benefited the most out of it were online payment and digital wallet apps.

For Paytm, demonetization was a success party–web traffic increased by 435%, app download growth by 200% and overall transaction value and transactions saw a rise of 250% ( online store that sells zyvox. Hindustan Times) enabling it to hold more than 7 million transactions worth 120 Crore (Livemint).

But why were other brands not able to capitalize like PayTM did?

Our social media performance report on 100 Indian startups for Q3 showed insights into how PayTM made the most of the opportunity.

Quantifying the results

Here are two engagement graphs for finance and payments startups. What difference do you see over the quarter?


While in Q2, Oxigen Wallet outperformed everyone, PayTM was the sole winner in engagement in Q3.

If you look at the vertical axis of both the graphs, you will see a cumulative jump of engagement across all companies. Overall engagement of the payment and digital wallet startups increased during demonetization.

Interestingly, while the segment saw a total jump in engagement by 9.5 times, PayTM posted a jump of 27.5 times over the quarter!

That calls for answering three major questions:

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  1. What were the reasons behind such a brilliant performance of this category on the whole?
  2. How did PayTM post this unprecedented success?
  3. Why other startups failed to do what PayTM did?

We shall answer these What, Why, and How questions one by one.

What happened?

Our What, which almost seems obvious, is demonetization.

Q3 in 2016 was action packed, Indian Festival of Lights- Diwali, followed by Christmas, sandwiched by the Mauka Mauka moment of Demonetization.

All these startups drew out their digital wallets and took the battle to social media for attracting users. Just after Diwali, PayTM was already doing well in the engagement chart. The nearest follower, Oxigen Wallet, was trailing by over half a million engagement numbers.

paytm and competitors engagement graph till diwali

Engagements Graph (Oct 1 – Oct31)

After Diwali, it all took off and PayTM’s engagement grew dramatically every single day.

paytm's competitor's engagement

Engagements Graph (Nov 1 – Dec 31)PayTM’s engagements is notshown in the graph to better compare other startups

Let’s add PayTM to the party from Nov 1 to Dec 31:

paytm and competitors engagement graph

While other startups just performed ordinarily, PayTM led the category towards the glorious success.

But Why just PayTM?paytm during demonetization

How this happened?

A�Actions speak louder than words. And so we will find our answers in actions.


Overall brand activity of the segment increased by 654 posts in FQ3 which has to be, given the Demonetization Effect and Diwali Dhamaka.

However, it was not the rise in brand activity which sparked the growth in total engagement. To put it in simpler terms, it was not that more content sparked more engagement.

The reason became obvious when we studied the type of content and their corresponding engagement.

While non-video content (text and images) saw 56% rise in engagement, video content engagement saw a 16.4 times increase over the quarter.

Video engagement vs Non-video content engagement

How this happened? By the video engagements

Let us now compare the top fourpayment startups to know why other startups failed to do as good as PayTM.


Though Freecharge tried to turn the odds in its favour by posting videos like How to add money in Freecharge wallet (a 14 second video) on November 17 and an engaging video Freecharge kiya matlab cash diya on November 23, these videos came out after the wedding was over.

Snapdeal owned entity was too late in responding. So late that PayTM was holding 120 crore worth of transactions by then. The efforts put in by Freecharge in the form of 1,117 posts and videos were lost in social media jungle.

Oxigen Wallet

The brand got 281.8K engagements between November 1 and December 31, 2016 while this figure was 238.87K between October 1 and October 31.

Maybe Oxigen was unmoved by the demonetization effect and hence it was consistent in its efforts. It is evident from its YouTube account even where most of the video content were news clippings of Oxigen’s media coverage. Only 1 or 2 videos which can be counted as Micro ATM POS machines using AEPS (Aadhaar Enabled Payment System) encouraging digital payments.


From 21K engagements by the end of October in FQ3, it managed to gather nearly 1.4 million engagements by the end of FQ3. However, Mobikwik did the same mistakes as Freecharge did.

While Mobikwik posted its 13-second-long video MobiKwik November Blockbuster Offers on November 15, it took them a week in posting their next video #MobiKwikHaina: Pay Anytime, Anywhere!


Now about our Power Player.

PayTM’s Action Timeline:

November 11: 3 tutorial videos about PayTM Wallet.

November 12: Bhaisahab ATM nahi, PayTM Karo.

November 14: Didi – Chinta mat karo, PayTM Karo.Chhutte ki chinta mat karo, PayTM Karo.

November 15: Apni # ka cash save karo, PayTM Karo.

November 18: Shadi ka Shagun cash nahi PayTM Karo.

These were followed by the success stories and tutorials in various languages to widen brand reach.

While the other startups were cleaning their guns, PayTM had pulled the trigger.

The study of this segment gives an important lesson for social media and content marketers: while creating content is important, it has to be served at the right time. Possibly before your competitor does if you don’t want to lose out on engagement.

What went well for PayTM was hitting the hammer when the iron was red hot. The timing paid back Paytm with 21.9 million video engagements in FQ3 and may be this was the major reason behind the 435% increase in traffic and growth of mobile app downloads to 200%.


Hit the hammer when the iron is red hot, any delay in the right action at the right time may cost you a fortune and in case of social media a delay of a millisecond may leave you dozens of tweets/posts behind.

Video content is the main driver for engagements, if you know your audience well, if you know when and what to strike, then there is no better option than the video content. While YouTube is the major platform for video content sharing, Facebook is also caching up with live videos and new innovations.

Discounts and offers may attract engagements, but if you want to make it large, this strategy should not be your first and foremost option.

Being most active doesn’t mean you will attract more engagements. Be efficient with your strategy so that you may give your best in limited number of posts and videos.

Last and the most important one, social media has the power to bring about change, turn your luck upside down and making you a hit. So better master this field and turn the power on your side.