A media analyst with BTIG named Rich Greenfield, has tweeted that Nathan Eagle, co-founder and CEO of mobile phone developer Jana, says that India is going to be the leading Facebook market in the world in a matter of months.
If this forecast comes true then it will make a very big news. Currently, according to the tweet, India has 114.8 Mn Facebook users, i.e. 32 Mn users short of US. In August this year there were 160 Mn Internet users in India, and these estimates consider the same. This means that 71% of the total Internet users are on Facebook, against 60% in US.
— Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) November 22, 2013
The reason behind this growth
According to a latest report by IAMAI, the number of Internet users in India has already crossed 200 Mn mark by November 2013. This means that it could be assumed that with the growing Internet penetration, the number of Facebook users in India is rising as well, and as predicted, it will overtake US Facebook market pretty soon.
Y-o-Y growth of Internet users in India is 40% and that of Facebook users is 47%. This could be attributed to the fact that most of the Indian population is predominantly young. India’s population is almost 4 times than US’ population and even with the total Internet penetration lower than that in US, it still has a large potential Internet user base.
Talking about population, China could’ve been the leading market for Facebook, but the social media portal was blocked by the Government in 2009 following deadly riots in Xinjiang that the authorities believed to be encouraged by the social networking sites.
In India, the increase in Facebook users is mainly assisted by the easy usage of the Facebook app and website on mobile, since Mobile Internet is more widespread than broadband connections.
Social media in India
Popular social media forums/websites currently being used around the world include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, Google plus, Instagram etc. In India, Facebook has the maximum number of users. According to a research, there were about 14 Mn Twitter account holders in India, this number has increased by 42.8% to reach roughly 20 Mn users in India.
The data in the above chart has been compiled from various sources, and the figures for YouTube and Google plus indicate the number of active unique users per month and not account holders.
Barring Google plus, whose hype died out soon after its release, all the other networks have seen a rise in the number of users from last year. So Facebook isn’t the only social network getting all the attention in India.
What effect will social media penetration have?
Besides serving its primary purpose of connecting people, the concept of social media has been exploited in numerous ways everywhere. Social media websites have been proven to be a tool for marketing and building brand awareness. Moreover, many Facebook pages have become a marketplace for many eCommerce enthusiasts.
On the other hand, many offline brands and organisations create pages on Facebook, Twitter etc. to have an online presence and reach more people. For instance, Delhi traffic police has placards around the state reading – ‘Delhi Traffic Police is now on Facebook’. Such an activity will firstly make the citizens feel more connected to the state law enforcement, and will give the police an additional announcement portal. And secondly, a move like this by a well-known brand name will drive people to go online as well.
With Internet user base in India to reach 243 Mn by June next year, social media user base will grow too, creating a large pool of revenue for companies like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. At the same time, other companies would be looking further ahead to social media marketing in India, to reach a sizable target audience.
And when India will actually become the biggest market for social media companies, it will be interesting to see how these companies would tap this potential.
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