Facebook Growth Accelerates Among Older Users in India

[Editor’s Note: The following article presents analysis and data excerpts from Inside Facebook Gold, our research and data membership service tracking Facebook’s traffic growth and demographic landscape in global markets.]

Older users gained ground in some of Facebook’s most important emerging markets in September. According to data from Inside Facebook Gold, users aged 35 to 44 grew by nearly 20 percent in India this month, in a sign that Facebook is maturing and expanding beyond its usual stronghold among younger users.

Older users often follow teens and twenty-somethings into joining the social network as it spreads. The trend was also notable in Facebook more mature markets, with users aged 55 to 65 leading the way in the United States, Canada and Argentina.

That said, younger users aged 18 to 25 still dominate overall, which is typical for Facebook and is partly helped by the fact that populations in both Mexico and India naturally skew younger.

India’s Facebook population grew by 8.7 percent in September to 13.5 million, the fastest rate among all 16 of the major markets we tracked in the Facebook Global Demographics Report. India is an important market for Facebook, as it is one of the last major markets where Facebook had lagged a competitor, namely Google’s Orkut; the country has huge potential, with a growing economy and more than 1 billion people. Unique users visiting Facebook.com in the country recently surpassed those visiting Orkut, according to Google Ad Planner.

However, market penetration is still extremely low with the social network reaching just 1.2 percent of the country’s 1.1 billion people. Despite its reputation as a technology hub halfway around the world from Silicon Valley and its newly launched Facebook office, India is a highly unequal society and only has 81 million Internet users, according to the Economic Times of India.

Without significant help from 0, Facebook’s new low-bandwidth offering for basic feature phones in developing countries, it may be hard for the company to even reach double-digit penetration. Facebook signed a deal with Bharti Airtel in July to bring free access to http://m.facebook.com so local users won’t have to use up their credits for logging onto the site.