Digital Marketer from Google, Bharti Airtel and Zdnetindia.com; Saurabh Pandey is a technology and media enthusiast. Saurabh runs his own blog at http://www.atomthought.com and is currently writing a book: ‘Social Media Marketing-Illustrated and Actionable Steps for Digital Marketers’.
Why are we on Linked-In but not on Apnacircle or brijj?
I guess it’s not just one single ‘thing’ but a mix of many factors that influence us to join a specific social media site.
In a nutshell, and in a more organised lingo, we choose to be on a social networking site largely because of:
- Presence of Opinion Leaders
- Presence of a large no. of Our Type of people,
- Opportunity to Collaborate and Co-create or achieve an objective and
- Tools to collaborate and co-create efficiently and effectively
Once we are comfortable with the above we then slowly create our own network, and reputation within that Social Platform.
Now, creating a network and reputation takes time and effort. Remember how much time it took you to reach that 500 contacts landmark in LinkedIn?
That’s precisely why anyone would think twice before just latching on to just another social network. This makes things really difficult for any new entrant. And that’s why it’s important to be either the ‘first’ or the most ‘disruptive’ in order to win members.
So, what happens now in India? Now that there are already so many of Social Networks, how does a new Social Platform survive?
Needless to say Indian Social Networks have largely been ‘followers’ and have failed to create need driven technological innovation or disruption. This is sadly true in most of the internet verticals.
Anyways broadly I have always maintained that Social Networks should excel at making the conversations among users most efficient-through the use of tools, technology, applications and co-creation opportunities. There is still a gap here, and there is still an opportunity here!
We shall understand the above in slightly greater detail as we move further.
So what’s the story of Big Adda and Ibibo?
Big Adda - You already know it: Amitabh Bachchan (Opinion leader) got the crowd in. Not a bad strategy at all, but how do you create stickiness?
Ibibo – People came in because they were incentivised for not just joining in but also on creating a network and frequent content update. Good and well thought out strategy. But what happens when the incentivisation gets over? Do people remain there or go back to the Facebooks and My Spaces?
More importantly did incentivisation help create good content regularly also? If not, then there will be no stickiness again!
So while full marks to both Big Adda and Ibibo for starting off with a bang, I still think they need to be working upon targeting an entirely new set of users (could be school children, to be tapped early in the lifecycle when they do not have exposure of any other Social Networking site) or target unique local needs (gaming, citizen journalism, collaborative authoring of a book or a movie, etc.).
So, summarising and adding a few more points, in order to be successful in the Social Networks game:
- You need to address a unique segment (unrepresented or under-represented) or
- You need to address a unique need (unrepresented or under-represented)
- Create tools for effective collaboration and conversation
- Create opportunities for co-creation (remember the members of social networks are here for an objective-networking, finding jobs, making music, selling their e-book, making friends, going for dating etc.)
- Lastly, as a Social Platform you need to provide the platform for members to get recognition.
If you have been following ibibo lately, you would have observed that through their fashion photographer, and superstar programs they are exactly following the above principles.
New set of users (like school children) are in a phase of experimentation and hence may dabble with more than 1 social network. Brand loyalty could be low. Also once they reach a certain age and proficiency of usage they would want to graduate from a ‘bachchon ka’ social network to a “serious and bade logon ka” social network.
But I still think, given the size and scope of Indian market it makes complete sense to target new users with the following directions:
Target new users who are mature and relatively more brand loyal- e.g. women. NOW this strategy can allow a new entrant to co-exist with competition. So a lady will not exit/leave a facebook, but since this new site services a ‘certain latent need’ better-so she will ALSO be seen here to satisfy ‘that’ need.
Target new users like school children and evolve your product as your Target audience evolves.-Long term strategy, good when the overall category itself is in a growth phase. May not work in a mature phase.
Target new users like school children and stick to your positioning. There is an incessant supply of these young kids, and their influence is all pervasive
In a compendium:
India has a huge need for social networks that can allow members to achieve their latent needs. These needs could range from dating and friendship through selling and buying to finding talent to creating a movie or music! What is also of a great relevance for India is the fact that in the next decade more people will use internet through Mobile, Touch and Speech platforms and Social Networks would be no exception.
Hence the Social Networks have to focus on innovation that can help people fulfil these needs effectively and allow this fulfilment through mobile, speech (regional) and touch accessibilities.