Facebook has announced its user base in India has grown to 65 million users, from just 8 million in 2010 - a growth that has made it an essential market for the company today, competing with Brazil and Indonesia for the number two spot.
As of August 2012, the user base was around 50 million, suggesting a rapid growth of the social networking website in rural and urban parts of the country.
According to Head of Facebook India Kirthiga Reddy, companies have increased their expenditure on online advertisements, which is now growing at 25 percent year-on-year. “Our reach can be a strong platform for marketers,” she told the media after inauguration of the company's refurbished office in Hyderabad.
She further revealed that top brands across the sectors in the country were using Facebook to engage with their customers. Moreover, Facebook is now aiming at the small and medium companies, for which the network recently teamed up with industry body FICCI.
“We are interacting with SMEs through the industry body on how they can build a presence on Facebook and engage with their customers,” Kirthiga said.
With an increasing Internet population, including the smartphone users, in India, Facebook is expected to post growth at the same pace in the near future. However, sustaining the growth will not be that easy.
As WSJ in its report points out, the social networking website has cater to millions of Indians still using the feature and low-tech phones. Moreover, it has to make its platform more accessible to the local developers to boost its ecosystem. If Facebook's model succeeds in India, it could apply same in other emerging markets such as Indonesia and Brazil.
“As we think about how to deliver the best possible Facebook experience to an emerging-market customer, India is probably the best place to incubate and experiment on different ways we can deliver that experience," WSJ quotes Meenal Balar, Facebook's director for international growth as saying.
That being said, Facebook has definitely taken a lot of measures to make its services popular in the country. It recently rolled out support for Hindi and seven other Indian languages for its feature phone app. Moreover, it is currently running a scheme under which it is offering Rs. 50 talktime for new users signing up via mobile phone. Read more about the Facebook scheme here.
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