Sunday, July 20, 2008

Social Networking: The future is beginning now!!

The C2C space is hot across the world, and so is the case in India. The India social media space is rocking with leading sites in the country being Orkut, Youtube, Wikipedia, Facebook and blogger. These sites feature in top 15 Indian sites as per alexa and have similar trends in comscore as per unique user per month data. Even worldwide scenario is the same, with these portals featuring in top 15 global sites in terms of traffic.

But is that all we need to know about the success of “User Generated Content”? What is the next step to it, what is the movement from web 2.0 to web 3.0 for these applications? Most important of all, what are the key success factors?

Focusing purely on social networking sites, there are more than one can count, hundreds of them getting created everyday. The Engines are mostly People Aggregator, ELGG, Drupal, PHPizabi and more recently, the revolutionary ODS (Openlink Data Spaces). Most of them are free, and do not require high skill in terms of coding, so an average coder can just pick-up any of these open source codes and crease a SNS in no time. If you are keen on it and do not know any coding, go to and create your own social network in 5 minutes flat for free! The bottom line, creating a social network is very easy and is no longer a luxury.

The most successful networks today are Myspace with over 240 million registered members and Facebook with over 80 million registered members. Myspace is an all round SNS with huge concurrent population, which is the key ingredient for success of any SNS. In addition of that it has all the applications like IM, mobile, News, TV, Music, blurbs, blogs and so on. Facebook claim to fame is the apps and interactivity, it is so good that in spite of having one third of the registered members, its activity is actually more as per alexa stats. Then there are host of other networks like orkut, freindster, Hi5, Habbo, Bebo and so on.

Coming back to India, the performance of Bigadda and Ibibo has been good, although not fantastic. They both have the rank near 150 in India.

What is next for India in this space? With only 40 odd million internet connections and growing at good rate, this space is still hot and worth gunning for. Now the following will be the key success factors in this business in India:

  1. Technology and Innovation: The Indian portals need to develop fast in terms of innovation in technology and service delivery on the internet. We know the country the best and I think we can deliver and innovate the best for ourselves. Taking cue from the next level of Internet, wherein multilayered and multimedia portals will be order of the day, we need to mix applications innovatively in the web 2.0 platforms. One can see to see as an example, wherein social networking app is layered on a video publishing engine. Bonus, you can make friends with Will Ferrell over there. This has to be intelligent and has to be able to service Indian mindset in a better manner.
  1. Concurrent Profiles: On any SNS most of the times, you are catching up with old friends and “your type of people”. You can also make news friends through current friends. In case you are looking for dating prospects on SNS, it is an absolutely different exercise. If you go register to an SNS and not find many people you know, or people your type, you loose interest fast. Therefore profiles in terms of numbers, and showcasing in terms of interests, location and common backgrounds (schools, colleges and so on) is critical. This has happened very well for orkut and facebook in India. To capture this, we need to represent and capture profiles as per interests and backgrounds more intelligently than orkut and facebook. Which we obviously should be able to do better, as we are here and understand the psychographics and demographics better than anyone else.
  1. Vertical SNS: The next rung of successful portals across the world are vertical SNS like,, avtars),,,, Twitter(micro-blogging), WAYN(travel, lifestyle) and so on. We in India have an amazing amount of vertical opportunities, right from castes, communities, languages, geographies so on. The communities on orkut do not do justice to the kind of potential India posses in terms of this space. So there is a clear need gap to plug and harvest in this space.
  1. Celebrity SNS: In a start struck country it is surprising to see zero action on SNS space by celebrities. has loads of celebrity profiles. Take for example Kylieconnect(Kylie), Dancejam(M.C. Hammer), and so on. We need to drive more celebrities on SNS and need to have more celebrity specific networking sites. This can be a big rage in India.
  1. Apps and widgets: The Apps and widgets are all over the place on the SNS engines. But this needs to have some discretion and a lot of innovation, in terms of indigenization. Again, to target Indian mindset, there is a huge scope here as well.

Rest I leave it to readers and leaders. Let’s gear up for a big social networking blast in India, and hopefully from an Indian portal!!!!!!!!!