Facebook Users In India Reaches 50 Million - Worry Or Opportunity

As Facebook in India reaches the magic figure of 50 million users, we analyse what it means for users and businesses

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Facebook in India touches the 50 million mark from 8 million back in 2010 when Facebook had started their first India operations office.

Facebook, the world’ biggest social network is also one of the most popular social network amongst Indians. According to latest reports, Kirthiga Reddy, director of online operations, Facebook India had confirmed to the media at the sidelines of an event organized by Indo-American Chamber of Commerce that,

“The user numbers – eight million in 2010 and 50 million in 2012- tell the growth story. India is one of the countries with the largest number of active users.”

In addition to this, Kirthiga also highlighted that the usability pattern of accessing Facebook in India is completely different when compared to US. In US the shift has been from computer to mobile where as in India a large portion of the users have been hooked to mobile first and chances are that they might not see the desktop again.

This trend has made the popular network to think more in providing innovative services via mobile. One of the services was to make the content available in local languages such as Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, etc. Kirthiga also assured that in the near future Facebook would be adding few more languages.

Concerns regarding Facebook

50 million is a number that will make any business happy. But the greed of becoming a bigger player is threatening the network. Recently, I had shared about how Facebook plans to make it open for children under the age of 13 years. I am of the belief that Facebook is not a social network for kids due to the drawbacks it has as a network. But is the network doing enough?

“Facebook, as a policy, did not allow kids below 13 years of age. Whenever there are such instances, it acted upon them strictly. Additionally, Facebook is launching education initiatives for children as well as parents.” said Kirthiga.

Apart from this, the latest concern that has been looming in around all social networks is the governments that are trying to control it. The Indian government hasn’t been an exception. At first the government did try to control social media with ministers doing the same later. Admitting to this, Kirthiga added,

“There are specified protocols where the government will interact with Facebook with specific queries.”

However, Kirthiga didn’t share the number of requests that have been made by the government to regulate the network. Google and Twitter had earlier released reports that have shown the number of times government had called for regulation of content. I believe that it is time for Facebook to be transparent and I am sure that the request numbers would be high, considering the political upheavals in the country last year.

The road ahead for Facebook in India

Facebook definitely has a future from a business point of view in India. The 50 million mark has been achieved even when the network has only been able to penetrate 4% of the population, as stated by Social Bakers. Social Bakers also gives a clear indication that there has been a 17% positive growth in the last six months.

So these numbers should excite marketers (new and existing) who are on Facebook and trying to engage on the network with fans. The recent Facebook’s partnership with FICCI in India to help local businesses benefit from the network, should also get a boost by these numbers. Hopefully, we should see more local businesses coming forward and adopting it.

Realizing India as a crucial market for Facebook, it will be expanding it’s base in Hyderabad, where it is presently located. However, the bigger question for people who understand the social business should be - how many of them are real fans and not bots created by some agency/brand to increase numbers? As per a recent BBC investigation, many profiles appeared to be “fakes” run by computer programs to spread spam. If a similar investigation is conducted in India, I wonder what the results would be!

Recently, I had spoken to Vincenzo Cosenza when he had updated the ”world map of social networks’ report and it was clear from the discussion that none of the networks are ready to share the active number of users.

So does the 50 million achievement make sense to you and your business or are you still good at avoiding it?