NEW DELHI: The Indian social networking audience has grown by 43% in the last year, a trend that helped Facebook overtake Google's Orkut to become the biggest such site in the country.

According to comScore, the research firm, 33.1m consumers aged at least 15 years old accessed social networks via a desktop or laptop PC in July 2010.

This equated to a penetration of 84% among the domestic internet population of 39.6m people, the company added.

As a result, India is now the category's seventh largest global market, behind the US, China, Germany, Russia, Brazil and the UK.

The rate of expansion recorded by these social media services in the Asian nation also trebled the corresponding figure relating to online user base as a whole.

"The social networking phenomenon continues to gain steam worldwide, and India represents one of the fastest growing markets at the moment," said Will Hodgman, comScore evp, Asia-Pacific.

"Though Facebook has tripled its audience in the past year to pace the growth for the category, several other social networking sites have posted their own sizeable gains."

Facebook has enjoyed an uptick of 179% in 12 months to 20.9m members in India.
This put it ahead of Orkut, which nevertheless delivered an improvement of 16% to 19.9m.

Bharatstudent took third place, having registered a modest rise of 3% to 4.4m, while Yahoo Pulse, operative for less than a year, already boasted 3.5m signed-up consumers.

Twitter was one of the fastest-growing platforms in the top ten, with users rising 239% to 3.3m participants.
This puts the micro-blogging platform on a par with business network LinkedIn, a portal attracting 3.3m netizens in under 12 months.

In an effort to regain its leading position, Orkut is rolling out a range of new features, such as allowing members to display content to some of their friends, but not others.

"Orkut is continuing down the path of innovation with a complete transformation in product DNA that began just last year," said Victor Ribeiro, product director for Google.

"Not only do these changes let users connect with their social groups in a way that more closely matches real-life, but users will want to interact even more, now that they have more control over who has access to their updates than ever before."

Data sourced from India; additional content by Warc staff