NEW DELHI: Facebook India is seeking to increase its relevance by expanding its reach to include more non-English speakers and attracting more small business advertisers in lower tier cities.

Umang Bedi, managing director of Facebook India and South Asia, outlined his vision for the business: "to be loved and become a trusted brand, to be deeply integrated into the fabric and to provide the experiences which are relevant and valuable to all people who are on our platform, including partners".

The social platform already has 166m monthly users in India, most of them on mobile, FirstPost noted, making it the biggest market after the US, and it is expected to become the largest as mobile penetration and internet connectivity grow.

"The biggest challenge in making internet relevant locally in Asia, including India, is local content, local languages and local awareness so we have to move beyond English to make the content locally relevant to consumers," Bedi said.

Facebook is currently available in 12 languages in India, making it possible for marketers to reach particular markets or even particular clusters in smaller towns and villages.

Sports brand Adidas, for example, was able to reach 1.9m young buyers outside of cities where it already had stores, using a short video that didn't take up much bandwidth. Damyant Singh, senior marketing director at Adidas India, told the Hindustan Times that the brand would "reach out to more athletes via regional languages".

Bedi reported that major brands advertising on the platform were seeing sales uplifts of as much as 30% as people made purchases via online links after seeing ads, but smaller brands can also use the platform to grow.

"We are putting in a lot of effort in building small businesses – the language-support capability came out of that," he said. "You will see a larger number of marketers adopting Adidas-like campaigns."

Indian advertisers are expected to spend some 77bn rupees reaching online consumers in 2017, according to Warc's latest India Ad Forecast.

Data sourced from FirstPost, Hindustan Times, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff