If you thought Facebook becoming popular in India would mean a very localised version of the world’s most popular social network, you are mistaken. “Facebook is already personalised for the individual, so the content Indian users see here is already Indian. So we don’t need to do a lot of localisation of content,” Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg on Wednesday told indianexpress.com.
Facebook now considers India its second largest market as far as users are considered after the US. “In the US we are by far the number one mobile app, bigger than the next seven combined,” she said, adding that while Facebook has been able to cover a large portion of the US population, it does not represent a large section of the population here even with a 100 million users. “This means there is such huge opportunity for growth here,” told a select gathering of journalists in New Delhi. She said Facebook already reaches four times more people than the most popular TV show in India.
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Asked how much of a business opportunity is Facebook see in everyone using their data for personalisation, she said the company’s goal was to serve their mission of connecting the world and having a thriving business was what enables them to meet their short and long term goals. “Personalisation at scale is essentially what we do and we do it everyday. Any marketer can show a post in such a way that it appears personalised for each user and that is exciting,” she said adding how companies like Hindustan Unilever were using this ability to target ads at very specific user groups.
She said Facebook was looking to India to grow their business and was willing to invest as the returns would be great. “As people are spending more time on digital, the marketers will go where the people are,” she said, explaining how the line had already been crossed in the US with people spending more time online than watching TV.
Incidentally, Sandberg, who has worked for Google as well as the United States Secretary of the Treasury, started her career in India in 1991 as part of a World Bank project on leprosy in Madhya Pradesh. “There were 3-4 million leprosy cases when I was last here, now there are less than a 100,000,” she said, adding this underlined the resilience of the Indian people.