afaqs!

Facebook fever catching on in India

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | August 06, 2007
Mirroring the trend the world over, Facebook is growing in popularity in India, though Orkut continues to lead by far in volumes

As cited & #BANNER1 & # recently by agencyfaqs!, social networking is growing by leaps and bounds the world over. Now, here are more figures on how global social networks are faring in India, courtesy comScore.

Orkut is predictably the leader, but it is the growth of Facebook in the country that is worth looking at. Facebook, founded by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg in early 2004, had 785,000 unique visitors from India in June 2007. Over the six months since January 2007, the number of unique visitors has grown by a runaway 230 per cent from 238,000 unique visitors in January.

Of course, the number of visitors to Facebook is much lower than that of Orkut. The Google-owned social network has grown by a healthy 35 per cent in the six-month period, and had 7.2 million unique visitors in June 2007. MySpace, at 399,000 unique visitors in June 2007, grew by 33 per cent over the six-month period.

According to the report, Facebook grew phenomenally in India between April and June 2007, attracting an additional 323,000 unique visitors. Orkut attracted 954,000 additional visitors in the same period. MySpace has shown sporadic growth, adding 28,000 unique visitors in Q1 of 2007.

Facebook gains popularity in the country at a time when Orkut has had its share of controversies. First, there was the fear of information being misused by cyber stalkers, as well as a perception about pornography (it was recently banned in the UAE). Orkut was also in the news when anti-India communities surfaced on the social networking site. Google, on its part, is keen to address the perception issue and has said it will cooperate with the authorities to share information. However, these are issues that any social media player may have to face in culturally sensitive India.

The privacy issue, especially for women users, is reflected in the better representation they have on Facebook. While 40.7 per cent of unique visitors from India on Facebook are women, they constitute 28 per cent in Orkut. On MySpace, this figure is 34 per cent.

The point that Facebook is gaining in popularity, and may very well be the next big thing in social networking, is not lost on advertisers either. Advertising sales for Facebook are handled by Microsoft globally, including in India. Microsoft's spokesperson, however, was not available for comment. Already, Indian companies like NDTV, Info Edge, SBI and Indiatimes are advertising on Facebook.

There's still a long way to go, though. Indians constitute about 30 per cent of unique visitors on Orkut worldwide. On Facebook, they are a little over 1 per cent. Indian networks like Big Adda, Yaari and Minglebox are even further off and do not have a global appeal.

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