Facebook + Craigslist= Sulekha

Social media is a fantastic resource for keeping up with friends, scoring great deals on a range of products and uncovering otherwise hard-to-find classified ads. Of course, with so many social media outlets populating the Internet, it can be tough to keep up with all the latest content.

That’s where Sulekha enters the picture. In 2008, this India-based web community merged the concepts behind Facebook and Craigslist to create a user-generated site that incorporates social networking with news, travel, sports and food content. It’s the first Indian website of its kind to rank favorably against United States-based networks such as LinkedIn or Myspace.

Sulekha’s revenue is comprised of two elements: advertising on the site’s social network side and classified ads. The classified ads are particularly interesting; as of 2008, nearly 20,000 businesses had paid to access search words. Rather than using the more States-centric methods of building a dedicated website or digging into Google’s AdWords tool, many small Indian companies are going straight to Sulekha to access its vast network of users.

It’s quite a network; Indians make up 60 percent of the audience, and an additional 30 percent of the users are based in North America. What’s more, nearly five percent of the users in 2008 were non-Indians who wanted a taste of Indian culture.

Though Sulekha initially struggled with overall Indian Internet connections not growing at they rate they’d expected, the future looks brighter than ever; five years ago, Sulekha board-member Promod Haque predicted that the site would benefit from the popularity of social media-enabled smartphones, giving India’s 80 million Internet users another method of accessing the content.