The Big Picture - Social Networking in India (Part I)
After the inception of Internet, the next big thing that has evolved over the years has been the use of social networking websites globally enjoyed not just by youngsters but by all kinds of age groups. In verity, a social network is defined as, “A social structure made of individuals (or organizations) called ‘nodes’, which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.”
India has never fallen behind in adapting the best and latest technological innovations and has always been amongst the first to use it. So too with social networking wherein India has become arguably one of the most potential markets for several popular social networking websites. It has taken very little time for India to move from the establishment stage of social networking to the exploration stage.
Let’s take a look at how few of the best social networking websites entered India, made it big or even suffered downfall due to cut-throat competition.
The real beginning, for social networking in India took off with Orkut setting foot in India during early 2004, which instantaneously became popular. Initially to become a member of Orkut people needed to possess a gmail account and an already Orkut user/member was required to send an invite to him/her to become a member of Orkut. Once it started to become popular, Orkut was made open to everyone. Then, began the socializing adventure on Orkut; finding old and new friends, sending them friend requests, sharing scraps (sharing messages) with each other and enjoying the whole thrill of doing all this in one place called Orkut.
After Brazil, the largest number of Orkut users in the world is from India representing 35.2% of the global Orkut users. Social networking had stamped its authority in India and there was no looking back. However, Orkut fell prey to controversies when a 22 year old youngster created an ‘I Hate Sonia Gandhi’ Community on Orkut and posted vulgar comments about the current ruling party president Sonia Gandhi. This led to the arrest of the youngster. Other than this there are several other controversial episodes that happened and keep happening like creation of ‘fake & invisible profiles’ and then trouble other users; creation of hate groups and communities were on the rise with no ceiling on any profanities used either. Well known celebs, for reasons aforesaid also remained miles away from Orkut. This made users to retract from using Orkut. Orkut hence, has lost its popularity to several other online social media websites.
Arguably the best online networking site, not just in India but globally. What Orkut did was bring social networking to existence, but what Facebook did was take networking to another level. A recent Opera report speaks about the rise of Facebook and the fall of Orkut and says, “Analysts have always been puzzled by the intriguing popularity of Orkut in India and Brazil – practically the only two big countries where the platform became a big hit.” However, hit by a lack of innovation (a news feed, for example) Orkut use has been on the decline while users are turning to Facebook more often.
Facebook has not only given users interesting and lucrative options of sharing and connecting with friends but also revolutionized the concept of social gaming combined with social networking like the integration of Farmville, Mafia wars, etc has really gotten the attention of several college-going crowd and youngsters. “Facebook Me” was the quote which was the new buzz on a college campus. A number of global celebs started coming onto Facebook & started having their fan pages to interact with the average Joe.
A look at a few very interesting statistics on Facebook India will show its popularity in India.
- India currently has over 28 million Facebook users and over 1/3rd of all Internet users are on Facebook.
- 47% of all Indian Facebook users belong to the age group of 18-24 years.
- Recent news updates suggest that Facebook has set up its operations in Hyderabad, India last September and is currently hunting for at least 1000 or more employees.
In verity Facebook’s success is completely credited to how it innovates quickly and has allowed users to have their own existence online and enjoy the whole process of networking, chatting, playing and more. And, now that I have a bit of money, I can gamble on Facebook too - by buying virtual credits through real money & playing Poker.
Read the Part II of Social Networking in India.