Facebook tries new tactics in India

19 October 2012

NEW DELHI: Facebook, the social network, is using an innovative method to expand in India, giving out mobile phone credit when users sign up from these devices and successfully encourage others to do so.

This test scheme will reward consumers registering from a mobile with Rs50 in credit. It will match this amount each time they recommend that a friend does the same and they go on to join.

Operating under the title Talktime, this plan builds on efforts like Facebook Zero, a version of the social network launched in several emerging markets, and providing free access from mobile phones.

"We partner with a number of telecoms companies around the world, many of whom offer incentives for their customers to use Facebook, such as zero rating mobile internet access to the service. This test is another such initiative," a Facebook spokesman told TechCrunch.

Emily White, Facebook's head, mobile partnerships, revealed earlier this year that 30% of users in India registered from a wireless handset.

The Every Phone App, which Facebook launched in 2011, enables users of over 3,000 feature phones to visit its pages, and is thus popular in markets like India, where these handsets predominate.

Analysis of India's current use base conducted by Inside Facebook, the website, suggested that 35% log on from feature phones and 17% utilise tablets and smartphones.

Kirthiga Reddy, the head of Facebook India, stated this week that it has 65m users in India, up from 8m two years ago. "Our reach can be a strong platform for marketers," she said, as reported by the Hindu Business Line.

Reddy added that online adspend was rising by around 25% per year in India, and it has formed a tie-up with FICCI, the industry group, to try and attract small-and-medium-sized enterprises.

"We are interacting with SMEs through the industry body on how they can build a presence on Facebook and engage with their customers," Kirthiga said.

Data sourced from Tech Crunch, Inside Facebook, Hindu Business Line; additional content by Warc staff