Facebook in India
Facebook launched as a social media network for schools, so naturally it started in India in around 2008 among the same target group of school students from 18-24. These were the innovators and early adopters for Facebook, who was also competing for screen time with Orkut, an already popular social media network, and Twitter. To keep the user engagement higher on Facebook, it employed a variety of growth hacks such as News Feed, Like button, Friend Tagging, its own version of blogging in Notes, Image sharing and Flash Games. A couple of unique offerings of Facebook was personalization down to the user level and gratification that user experiences. These hacks allowed them to be the most used website beating other bigger players like Google, Microsoft, Youtube etc combined. They opened their network to become people’s social network. Facebook was also one of the first platforms that asked for what or who a user liked with regards to anything giving the targeted ad mechanism a huge boost of life.
By the late 2011, Facebook already had a user base of 16% of internet users in India and were starting to outpace their competitors. However its further growth was limited to the growth of internet and infrastructure in India, so Facebook decided to take it upon itself and developed a lighter version called Facebook Lite which gives almost the same user experience for much less data consumed. This move gave them a huge boost to approach the ever growing smart phone and internet user base in India. These next group of people were from a much wider range of age group from 12–48 and touching the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. To do that they added the major second languages in India to their platform. Facebook also gained a lot of users from acquiring Whatsapp which was an already popular messaging platform in India.
In order to acquire more and more users Facebook started a Free Basics campaign aimed to provide free internet services to those who can’t afford internet access, limiting the services for Facebook and its partners. However the plan backfired when Telecom Regulatory Authority of India shot down the Free Basics proposal arguing that Free Basics was against Net Neutrality. This was a huge blow to Facebook’s brand image. Facebook is already working at a workaround and aims to be a forerunner in increasing the internet penetration in India.
Facebook recently added features for users to go Live and more Reactions for posts. As of May 2016 Facebook has more users in India than in the US and it has also reached the later stage of early majority on the product adoption lifecycle hitting about 42% of the internet user base in India. Facebook is also refining and soon launching its business offering of Facebook At Work which many major companies in India have already signed up for.