With the growing market of internet users in the country, India has become a battlefield for social networks. Google-owned Orkut has long been the most popular social network in India, with Facebook fighting to catch up. But Facebook has been upping the ante over the past few months, and according to August’s ComScore numbers, the plan may be working. In August, Orkut’s unique visitors in India dipped by 800,000 within a month, from 16 million visitors in July to 15.2 million visitors in August. On the other hand, Facebook grew its unique visitors in India by 700,000, from 7.5 million visitors in July to 8.2 million visitors in August.
This the largest drop in unique visitors Orkut has seen in India over the past year, while Facebook has been steadily growing each month. In fact, Facebook’s audience in India is up 228 percent from a year ago, compared to a 35 percent annual gain for Orkut.
There are a couple of key factors that could be attributed to Orkut’s recent drop in visitors. First, in India, Facebook has been pushing out an aggressive campaign on its social network to get users to import their friends from Orkut with a special Orkut import tool. It basically lets them find friends on other social networks, like Orkut, who are also on Facebook and makes it easy to send a friend requests to those contacts. The purpose of the tool is to make it easy for users to quickly find new friends and establish their social presence on Facebook. The social network offers this in the U.S. for Gmail, AIM and other contact platforms. But this new tool in India is for Orkut specifically. Facebook users are also seeing is the Orkut contact importer in Brazil, Orkut’s home base and stronghold where Facebook is clawing for market share.
Another reason for Facebook’s growth in India could be the recent launch of Facebook Lite. India was one of the original target markets for the lightweight version of the social network, since it is particularly useful in developing countries where high speed Internet connections are sparse or non-existent.
Facebook has been eying India’s huge market and steadily adding features that help the social network establish its reach in the growing country. For example, Facebook launched availability for several Indian languages including Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam, in May of this year.
It’s plainly obvious that Facebook is growing fast in India and could quite possibly overtake Orkut in the next few months. Meanwhile, other social networks are dropping like flies in the race; with Yahoo shutting down SpotM and MySpace considering layoffs in India because of the its lack of traction among users.