Social networks surge in India

05 January 2011

NEW DELHI: A majority of Indian internet users now access social networks such as Orkut and Facebook, a report has argued.

WATConsult, the agency, estimated that 13.7m people in the country log on to these Web 2.0 portals every day, while the total penetration rate stands at around 60%.

Orkut, owned by Google, retains the leading position and has 18m members overall, enjoying particular popularity in lower-tier cities.

Facebook is in second place on 17m participants, having recorded extremely rapidly growth – nearly doubling in size during the last six months – and could soon surpass Orkut on this measure.

The top two sites serve approximately 90% of the domestic social media base, meaning advertisers may benefit from focusing their efforts accordingly.

LinkedIn claimed third with an audience of 8m.

The business network has witnessed an impressive expansion among professionals.

Elsewhere, Ibibo – which specialises in social gaming and e-commerce – took fourth, and boasts 5m visitors.

Microblogging pioneer Twitter occupied fifth as 4.5m Indians utilise this service, and has also observed a quick pace of uptake.

Exposure to brands on these channels enhanced a range of metrics, with 72% of people reporting an uptick in brand favourability, 71% citing a leap in purchase intent and 66% naming positive effects regarding loyalty.

The primary motivations for following products and companies included doing so "for the heck of it", or as marketers then give fans something in return, like discounts.

Further findings showed the peak time for surfing Orkut, Facebook and similar platforms falls between 6pm and 10pm, suggesting people do not typically browse such sites at work.

Moreover, 60% of traffic is drawn from smaller cities, although Mumbai remains the largest single location when it comes to social activity.

The 15–24 year old age group has been the most enthusiastic about using these properties, with graduates especially keen.

However, LinkedIn's core demographic is the 25–34 year old segment, as a result of its business-orientated purpose.

Men also contribute 80% of the current social media population, WATConsult said.

The average annual salary of members was 200,000 rupees ($4,442; €3,310; £2,842), a figure largely determined by the comparative youth of subscribers.

Over 45% of engaged consumers visit social networks more than once each day, rising to a norm of three separate sessions concerning Facebook.

Playing interactive games, accessing applications and viewing photos were the most common pastimes on Facebook, WATConsult added.

Data sourced from Penn Olson; additional content by Warc staff