India’s Most Influential

11 Jun,2012


If you’ve been in the Indian media and are active on social networks, you just can’t ignore Mahesh Murthy (~5500 Facebook followers, ~18500 Twitter followers, 11600+ Linked-in connections!). On Saturday, he tweeted about the new Influencers rankings that his company Pinstorm produces, and the last time he did that, we noticed it was pretty well-received. However, we thought it would be a good idea to wait a bit and let the system get more robust. So when chanced upon his tweet on the Influencers 2.0, we checked out the list and invited him to write this piece for MxMIndia readers. And slipped in a request to send it the next day. That would be an impossible suggestion for most people, but we knew that Mr Murthy can will deliver. The Pinstorm founder and Seedfund managing partner is online nearly 24×7. Plus he understands the needs of our site and the profile of our readers: he has had first-hand experience of working with brands – now at Pinstorm and earlier with Ogilvy, Grey etc in advertising. He headed Channel [V] for a bit in the mid-1990s and a slew of media/onlne properties his companies PassionFund and now Seedfund have backed, including – Ed


By Mahesh Murthy


Imagine you were a brand that bought a spot on Satyamev Jayate, or on one of the many IPL matches that we just got done with. Depending on the deal you struck, your placement must have cost you between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 10 lakh for every 10 seconds of airtime. Not counting the Rs 1 crore or so it must have cost you to produce the ad and pay the agency.


Now both these programs got TRPs of around 3. That means around 3 per cent of India’s 121 million cable and satellite homes had tuned in. That’s 3.6 million households.


Now imagine you were interested in the youth audience – and let’s keep it broad – say anywhere between 14 and 30 years of age. That would be about 1 such person per household – or 3.6 million people. And now let’s imagine you were interested in SEC A/B and not so much in C/D/E. So you have to cut that 3.6 million youth down to around 1 million at the most, that is if you’re feeling generous


So it cost you around 500,000 or more rupees to reach 10,00,000 upscale youth once, for 10 seconds. On the programmes with the greatest reach in India. Most other TV programmes will have a fraction of this reach – where you’d be lucky to get 100,000 upscale youth watching your ad.


Youth online

Now let’s turn our attention to an entirely different medium. Let’s say that for some reason, Farhan Akhtar mentions your brand on a tweet. Or on his Facebook fan page. Or on a blog. Guess what your direct reach would be? About 10,00,000 people – mostly all upscale youth. Now let’s say just 1 per cent  of those re-tweet it. That’s 10,000 people. And if each of those re-tweeters has an average of around 150 followers, it’s now gone out to another 15,00,000 people. Even adjusting for duplication, that’s a total reach of 20,00,000 or more people. That’s more youth than the biggest TV shows in India can get you to.


Now imagine that all of it is for free. Or, at best, for a teeny-tiny budget.


And now imagine other people also talk of you online.


Shashi Tharoor, our parliamentarian from Kerala directly reaches 13,00,000 people. Amitabh Bachchan reaches twice as many. Keeping showbiz aside, Yuvraj and Dhoni both directly reach more than Shashi Tharoor does. And the Dalai Lama, from his remote outpost in Dharamsala, directly reaches out to an amazing 44,00,000 people. The Delhi and Mumbai editions of The Times of India together don’t do that.


But it’s not all celebs. Kiran Bedi reaches 4 lakh people online – mostly SEC A/B folks. That’s more than any show on MTV can get you across to. My friends Mehul Patel and Vishal of Pentagram can each get you to over a lakh people apiece, directly. More than any English business programme can.


A section of the Pinstorm India Influencers 2.0 rankings of resident Indians (Please click to be taken to the live page)

Mankind is the medium

In this digital world, people don’t necessarily get their news and information from websites or TV channels. They get it increasingly from other people. The new medium isn’t digital: it’s you and me – and the places we talk.


Facebook has 50 million Indians on it. That’s more people than watch Star Plus in the country. And 7 million of those are on Tata Docomo’s Facebook page. Approximately 7 times the monthly reach of MTV’s TV channel. So who needs who – does Docomo need MTV? Or is it the other way round?


Once a Shahrukh Khan needed Filmfare and its circulation of 25,000. Today @iamSRK has a circulation of 25 lakh and a reach of twice as many. One would imagine a single tweet from him could double Filmfare’s newsstand sales if he chose to be gracious.


Potential influence, not just reach

But the power of different people on social media isn’t just that of their Facebook fan base or Twitter followers. That would be as silly as saying Doordarshan has a reach of 135 million just because every set in India can receive it.


Social influence is measured based on many factors. How often do you talk – is it the notoriously taciturn @Aamir_Khan who has tweeted all of 90 times in the last few years? Or is it the motormouth @Agnivo who has tweeted over 2 lakh times in the same period?


How often are your tweets forwarded or re-tweeted? What is the reach of those re-tweets? How often do people act on your tweets by replying to you – and how often do you engage back in conversation?


All of these are factors that go into measuring one’s potential to influence online.


The Pinstorm India Influencer Rank

At Pinstorm we track the online influence of almost 5,000 Indian people and brands every day.


We first created this list of social media mavens -and we add to it every month. Then we use scores from three different international measurement services – Klout, PeerIndex and Kred which look at an entity’s strength on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora and blogs – and then apply our own algorithm to these scores to arrive at a consolidated score and rank.


Our scores are graduated out of 100 – and you can see them live at As at the time of writing this – and things can change every single day, Aamir Khan leads the individual influencer rankings with an II score of over 80 out of a possible 100. The only other entity with a similar 80+ score is NDTV, who heads our influencer rankings on the organisational or brand side.


As you can imagine, Bollywood and sports personalities dominate the individual rankings, with 15 of the Top 20 individual rankings. The five exceptions being Rajdeep Sardesai, Shashi Tharoor, The Dalai Lama, Kiran Bedi and ex-adman and now comic tweeter Ramesh Srivats.


Surprisingly, media properties don’t quite dominate the brand influence rankings, with just 8 of the top 20 positions. But cricket leads with 10 of the top 20: with CricInfo, CricketNext, IPL and 7 IPL teams holding top ranks.


The best-ranked consumer brand in online influence terms is Samsung, followed by IndiaGames, Ixigo, Vodafone, Flipkart, Airtel and HCL.


A section of the Pinstorm India Influencers 2.0 rankings of Indian brands (Please click to be taken to the live page)

The purpose of maintaining these lists wasn’t just so social celebs could boast of their rankings to each other.


Truth is that the vast majority of the 5,000 people we track aren’t celebs in the traditional media world. Perhaps you’ve not heard much of Madhavan Narayanan, Malini Agarwal, A R Karthick, Jaydip Parikh, Rahul Banker, Kaveri Ahuja or Sundar Raman. These people (and, I must somewhat embarrassingly add, myself too) appear in the Top 75 influencer list for India. With online influence scores greater than that for Viveik Oberoi, Shabana Azmi or the online avatars of The Economic Times, MTV or Star Plus.


In India’s online world where there are more people on the net than there are TV sets – and where more people already access the net from their mobile phones than do from their desktops and laptops – where would you put your marketing rupees?


At Pinstorm we suggest to marketers that a well-thought-through group of online evangelists, people who are interested in your product category and have credibility – should be lovingly tended and cared for. New announcements and launches should be shown to them first – because if they like what they see, they might talk about it online.


And that combination of reach and credibility could do you a lot more good at lot less than a Rs 1 crore TV commercial shown repeatedly for Rs 10 lakh every 10 seconds.


The Pinstorm India Influencer List is live and visible online at  We maintain lists across brands, residents of India, Indian non-residents and politicians. Mahesh Murthy is the founder of Pinstorm, India’s leading digital-first brand management firm.


Post a Comment 

10 responses to “India’s Most Influential”

  1. Ganeshan Nadarajan says:

    New announcements and launches should be shown to People first – because if they like what they see, they might talk about it online.

  2. What about messaging and impact? Ads are generally stronger on both these parameters.

    Also, not sure if a follower reads all tweets of the ones they follow. I think the number of active followers will be much smaller.

    The correct measure can only be provided by a brand that has tried both correctly. If this is true, a Samsung or a Flipkart should be getting most of their customers through online referrals. However, the reality is, both the brands advertise on TV.

  3. You rock as usual sir. Great insights.

  4. Haroon Bijli says:

    Quite simplistic. Time to stop worrying about these algorithm based influence measures and do it the right way. Build your brand personality, bit by bit, interact, be a friend to your followers/fans, earn their trust and grow your influence.

    You may not feature on Pinstorm’s list or have a good Klout/Peerindex score, but you are better off that way.

  5. Satya, Entrepreneur says:

    The combination of reach and credibility is the key in today’s complex world. having said that I somehow have lost interest in FB as most reach coming out is all hoax and this is after careful selection on target audience with age, interests etc… while one my might disagree or have difference of opinion I feel inorganic growths through paid media is not the solution….and this article beautifully highlights that.

  6. Amazing article and good reach Mahesh..may be would take some quick tips from you sometime..

  7. Aloke Bajpai says:

    Great initiative !

  8. Rahul Banker says:

    feels good to be listed! thanks 🙂

  9. Awesome article and super stat for TV vs Digital Marketing. Mahesh rocks on this kind of stats.

  10. Shakun Rai says:

    Pinstorm is going to be no.1 soon in digital advertising who ranks that?

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