NEW DELHI: Facebook, the social network, is embarking on a programme seeking to attract small businesses to use its advertising services in India, and thus drive up revenues in the country.

The online platform currently boasts 46m users in India, putting the Asian nation among its top three markets worldwide. In a bid to enhance its position, Facebook has allied with FICCI, the trade body possessing 250,000 member firms.

Over the coming eight months, the two organisations plan to run a series of roadshows in six major cities, beginning in Faridabad and Hyderabad in late July.

Alongside instructing small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) about how they can leverage the web to grow, they will offer guidance on building brand pages, and best practice guidelines on making use of its advertising tools.

As part of the "Business Boost" initiative, Facebook is providing incentives to trial its advertising services, in the form of a $50 voucher.

"Facebook's partnership with FICCI will enable SMEs with educational resources and free advertising to help them get started and grow their businesses online," Ankhi Das, Facebook's head of public policy for India, said, the Business Standard reported.

"Participants will also be given self-help toolkits, resource guides and modules which would include image building, recruitment and retention, business associate acquisition, research, product development and procurement."

Initially, the target of the scheme is to attract 600 companies. Hemant Seth, a joint director at FICCI, argued using new technology could help these firms expand their revenues.

"We want our members to make full use of this campaign, to make themselves socially competitive," he said.

Facebook has already utilised this approach in the US, UK and various other parts of Europe, although such markets generally have far higher internet penetration levels than in India.

Previous data from Deloitte, the advisory group, estimated that Facebook supported 232,000 jobs in the European Union and Switzerland in 2011. The report also stated "encouraged" economic activity worth €15.3bn.

Data sourced from Business Standard; additional content by Warc staff