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Facebook eyes bigger growth in Indian market

Social media giant is gunning for big growth in India, where it has 93 million users, lauding the market as the company's next big thing as it marks its 10th anniversary this week.
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Written by Eileen Yu, Contributor on

Facebook is gunning for big growth in India, lauding the market as the company's next big thing as the social media site marks its 10th anniversary this week. 

In a statement released Tuesday, Facebook said it currently has over 1.2 billion monthly active users and quoted CEO Mark Zuckerberg: "In the next decade, we have the opportunity and responsibility to connect everyone and to keep serving the community as best we can." The site launched a "Look Back" feature, allowing users to view a video that features a personalized collection of their biggest moments since joining the social media platform.  

In a November 2013 interview, Facebook's Asia-Pacific vice president Dan Neary said 80 percent of the site's daily active users lived outside the U.S. and Canada, with Asia its largest and fastest-growing region, accounting for over 340 million active monthly users, up 33 percent year-on-year. The company has over 5,700 employees worldwide where its international offices include Singapore, Hong Kong, Hyderabad, London, Sydney, and Seoul. 

Two of the site's largest markets are in Asia: India, it's second-largest after the U.S.; and Indonesia, which ranks fourth behind Brazil. No surprise then that the company has earmarked India as its next big thing. 

Facebook's India chief Kirthiga Reddy said in a Times of India report: "Zuck sees India as a key market...a large market for our monetization drive [and] a lead market for emerging economy models. What we learn in India, we implement elsewhere."

There are currently 93 million Facebook users in India, about 75 million of whom are on mobile, said 42-year-old Reddy, who joined the company in July 2010 when it had just 8 million users in the country. It clocks about 2 million new users a month in India, where it offers the social media site in nine languages. 

She further noted in a Q&A with The Economic Times that India was a significant market for Facebook from a user base perspective as well as from a monetization perspective. The company also has core operations offices in India, which contributes to its global developments, she said. 

The site is now looking at ways to turn the numbers into profits, as it looks to generate a revenue stream from its growing user base. "I know 18 months from now it will be a different media landscape and Facebook is going to be a key part of fuelling that change," Reddy said. "There are over a million advertisers on Facebook globally, a very significant milestone for us to reach. We don't share country-specific numbers, but I can see different genres of advertisers coming."

Coca-Cola India, for instance, last year launched several advertising campaigns with the social media site, she said. Online fashion retailer, Yepme, also tapped Facebook for a 4.5 times returns on ad-sales dollars.

The social media giant, however, could face potential issues over censorship and freedom of expression in India, where Mumbai police in March 2013 said it set up a lab to monitor social networks for public sentiments and detect possible protests.

In July 2013, the Delhi High Court ordered Facebook to ban kids younger than 13 years and include a disclaimer on its login page, following a sex scandal involving children who allegedly gathered via the social network. 

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