Ronnie05's Blog

State of Social Networking Sites in India

Posted in Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on August 12, 2009

According to Internet market research firm comScore Inc., the country had 34.6 million Internet users (who access the Web from their homes/offices) in June, of which at least 65%, or 22.61 million, accessed social networking sites. This is a trend that is in line with the global trend,where social networks and blogging sites have dislodged personal email in the hierarchy of the online world (Nielsen 2009).

Social networking sites started gaining traction in India some three years back with the rising popularity of global sites Facebook and Orkut.Soon, Indian sites caught on; Ibibo.com, Indyarocks.com, Bharatstudent.com and Bigadda.com emerged.Today a dozen and more Indian websites exist. The Indian Social Networking scene is suddenly a hot cake and everyone wants a piece of it.There are atleast 12 or more websites in the mrket.

However,the two global first-movers —Orkut and Facebook—account for at least 90% of the market, according Gartner India. That leaves very little headroom for the “others” to partake their audience and advertisers. The Social media story is likely to pan out into a lot more fringe players in the next 1 or 2 years before the ineviatble shake out happens. Everyone is experimenting with different things (to make money from advertising). Some things will work; some things won’t.

“A big percentage (of these networks) will not survive.” says Ashish Kashyap, CEO at Ibibo, a social networking site that has positioned itself as a talent-showcasing platform. “There is no space for ‘me toos’…you have got to differentiate and solve a problem.”

Social Networking

From the first estimate of a user myself, Differentiation and Stickiness would be based on the following factors:

1.  Site Followers: Users and Content beget more users and better content. While the threshold for a site business model would vary on many factors, it is important that target volume users are met within a optimum time frame.

2.  Rich user experience at the site which would include real time communication, Chat, Applications,Video, Audio, Games,Blogs, User generated contents and reviews and more.

3.  Site USP: The age old paradigm of positioning the platform will be crucial in establishing the site audience and stickines.

4.  Relevant content and user discussion/interaction on subjects.

5.  Accessibility through Mobile Texting / internet mediums: The best exmaple of this is the Facebook mobile which allows users to access a lite version of Facebook for the mobile phones. Better still are user updates through SMS texting on their mobile phones, which is also being used as a key service proposition by a few Telecom operators.

6.  Content localization/Vernacularization: While most of the internet users are urban and the medium of communication is thus English, India being India, the importance of vernacular content would be an important volume builder in times to come.

7.  Celebrity endorsers: When BigAdda had to launch, all it did was to sign up Amitabh Bachchan as a blogger on its network. Traffic on the site multiplies (though most of the ecelebrity blogs are actually quite unreadable and narcissist in my opinion.

8.  Building Communities around the content and the website

9.  Content co-creation with the user

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