Archive for Facebook

The Virtual Address

Posted in Brand, Internet, Social networking with tags , , on May 21, 2008 by manuscrypts

Read a very interesting argument yesterday here on how an online community is different from a group on a social network, or is it?

As i commented there, while Orkut definitely works as a way to rekindle those school crushes/ get in touch with those long lost friends, Facebook goes beyond that, thanks to its applications. I’d written about it earlier. The idea is that Fb allows you to connect on more planes with an existing contact (hey, you’re a Heroes fan too) or know people who share a common interest, like the group ‘I love trashy Hindi movies’. Facebook allows a lot more scope for activities on the group as opposed to Orkut’s polls an forums. Its way more social.

But that was not the debate I had in mind. I look at Fb and Orkut as a sort of mall in the virtual space. As in a mall, there are various sets of activities that one can done on these SN sites. As a businessman, would i rather open an outlet in the mall or would I take retail space outside? That’s a question I’d like to ask specialised websites. eg. say HolidayIQ or Burrp.

If i open the shop in a mall, I might be have some constraints imposed on me by the mall -space, opening/closing times etc, but which may not be issues in my own retail space. But think of the cost that I’d incur in getting people to come to my stand alone shop, as opposed to people coming into the mall and visiting my shop with maybe a few catchy posters/offers to boost their chances of walking in. In a virtual world, I think the cost of building my own site + marketing it would be much more than making a ‘shop’ inside say, Facebook. In Fb, like the mall, I can utilise the existing population to build a brand. This is specially true for the typical time-strapped net audience. A simple thing like a newsfeed (Manu has joined/added the group/app …..) would itself attract some ‘pull’, because there all kinds of people in an SN site – book lovers, backpackers, music fanatics, food lovers….. And if i keep doing it right, then maybe it would warrant a spin off later- an own site. The case for existing specialised sites to have an app/page on SN sites is a kind of no brainer, I’d guess.

So, what do you think is a better way – to build a specialised site in the beginning or use an existing site’s pull to build a brand, and start a site only when the audience is ready for monetisation?

until next time, a group of communities

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On the right track

Posted in Advertising, Brand, India, Social networking with tags , , , on April 30, 2008 by manuscrypts

Saw the new Fastrack TVC on air –  Shut up and Move On, but I didn’t see it there first. Fastrack is a brand whose communication i try to follow, simply because i feel that somewhere they’ve got the pulse right.  Of course by doing that, they also end up making customers who don’t fall in their TG demographics (me, for example :D), but thats fine so long as they keep their TG is happy.

So when i read here that a new campaign was on, i googled for the new TVC. Couldn’t find it, and then suddenly remembered that Fastrack is also on Twitter, and knowing the way they’ve been updating, I was sure I’d find a link, and i did. And that’s what’s cool about Fastrack. Not only do they get their communication right, they also experiment extremely well on platforms like Orkut, Facebook and Twitter, which means, unlike the usual lip service that’s done regularly by brands, this one’s actually interested in social media. Even their website seems to be on a wordpress platform.

A search for fastrack on Orkut would throw up quite a few pages with dozens of fan clubs, the largest one having more than 23000 members. Facebook has a few pages and at least 2 fairly large groups. Around 70 followers on Twitter. Just goes to show how well it can work when a good product is also a brand that is willing to have a conversation with its customers.

Even their regular communication smacks of attitude. I remeber a print ad that had a ‘No conditions apply’ with the image of a bull sitting on a closet between ‘no’ and ‘conditions’. Liked it so much that i checked the sale out, and thats how i bought my first Fastrack watch. So Fastrack’s brand manager, take a bow 🙂

Coming back to this ad, it is apparently targeted at singles between 15-25, and has an underlying theme of the generation’s penchant for instant gratification and variety seeking. While they have weaved in Fastrack quite well into a good storyline, i really didn’t like this one as well as say, this, but i think that’s more a problem with the basic premise rather than execution. The basic premise being the promotion of superficiality, especially in relationships. Yup, it perhaps is just another sign that I’m really not the TG 😉

until next, don’t SUMO , have your say

PS. Meanwhile, the other blog celebrated 5 years of existence yesterday 🙂

Appy times

Posted in India, Social networking with tags , , on April 17, 2008 by manuscrypts

And that much talked about day is finally here. The Orkut applications have started their invasion. When I logged in today, what do is see beneath my daily fortune – ‘New! Add applications and customize your profile with songs, games and much more. ‘ With the launch of MySpace slated later in the evening today, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Was that by design? 😉

Though these days, orkut has been relegated to a routine daily check, i dived in to see what’s on offer. A lot of stuff seems to what a Facebook user would be familiar with – Horoscopes, ILike (music), Teen Patti, India Dekha, TopFriends, Slide TV, Flixster, iRead, IPoke etc. But there are also stuff which i have not seen – Chakpak, an application from the website with the same name, based on Bollywood, and Typeracer, which is a typing speed testing game.

The latter already seems to be making waves, if I am to believe the various tweets that i have heard. I confess that it is quite addictive :). Interestingly, C2W also has an application, based on Hangman. Wonder if there’ll be copyright issues like Scrabble. Though I am yet to try it out, what’s cool is that apparently one can one’s own version based on fave movies etc.

I’m not quite sure how this would affect Facebook, them specially becaue apps has been one of their USPs. For all those who grumble about Facebook being confusing, Orkut with apps might be the answer. For the regular Facebook users, it does have a huge first mover advantage, which Orkut will take some time to overcome, if it does, at all. And where will MySpace and the desi versions figure in all of this?

until next time, go apply yourself 🙂

PS. Looks to be a big day for Indian social networking. Big B going to blog, i read here.

Social Panchvi Pass

Posted in India, Internet, Social networking with tags , on April 16, 2008 by manuscrypts

A few days back, Dhanashree pointed me towards a new app on Facebook. This is based on the about-to-start show on Star Plus ‘Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass se tez hain’ ( which is the desi version of ‘Are you smarter than a 5th grader?‘) The show has been promoted heavily on TV, and the application has been conceptualised and created by RMG Connect.

I’m not sure if I’ve seen any online ads for the show, and a google search took me to the homepage for the show. Before we get into the application, my first take is that the site as well as the application could do with a bit of cross promo help, not just with each other, maybe even with the TV ads, and on mobile. I didn’t hear about it until i got the link. Of course, all that depends on how much stickiness they want for the site/application. Some of the winners get a chance to go on the shoe, but if the only idea is to push viewership, then maybe not.

As Dhanashree mentioned, the very idea of an app based on an SRK hosted show has the potential of a viral. So, the concept in itself would get some takers. For instance, i added the app, and sidestepped the ‘invite friends’ part, but noticed that by the next day, 3 of my friends had added it too. But, IMHO the finish could’ve been slightly better, not just in terms of looks, but also the jerkiness of showing the next question, and the spelling mistakes, for instance. The ‘contest rules’ is almost hidden, i didn’t see a quick 3-5 step up guide on how to play, and in general, the navigation is a tad unfriendly. I did like the box design though, on the profile page, though I’m still a toddler 🙂 (thats even less than first standard pass).

I wonder if they’ll use the kind of stuff that say, Text Twist does, which pushes itself at you saying ‘XYZ has beaten your highest score’. But the very fact that they built a facebook app itself is a good thing that has to be commended

until next time, passing standards

Social Icing

Posted in Brand, Social networking with tags , , on April 4, 2008 by manuscrypts

Continuing from what i wrote earlier, the social networks we’re familiar with (assuming you don’t use our friendly neighbourhood sites – cyworld, qq, mixi) have a revenue mix of ads and virtual goods. However, as the chart below will show you, this is not the only way to monetise a social network, as the chart below will show you.

clipboard01.jpg

Courtesy – http://www.plus8star.com/ 

Now, should that make our familiar networks hmm, disoriented? :D. Not exactly, because the population is there, even if its lesser than the other sites. The word of caution, is that the audience reaction to monetisation can never really be predicted.

Social media is indeed popular, though it is felt that it lacks metrics which are so important for monetisation.That however, has not stopped brands from using the networks in a variety of ways. From making groups to building applications and so on, brands have cashed in on the network’s popularity to hook the customer on one more platform. This, for example is a post on social media marketing strategies.

The common newspaper ad sales motto is that they lease their relationship with their customers to paying third parties. While the digital scene has diverged from traditional media in a lot of ways, I’m not quite sure why this can’t be made true for social media. I agree that a lot of applications are also a value addition to the site since they keep the visitors glued, but that can’t be the case always.

For instance, look at this application on Facebook by Coca Cola. I doubt if Facebook is making any money from Coke. But the basic questions are ‘Whose platform is Coke using?’ and ‘Whose audience is Coke using?’. And so, why can’t this be a way for Facebook to make money? By all means, allow developers to make applications, but if brands are involved, no harm in asking them to pay. Use part of the revenues to keep users happy by providing better features. That’d be the icing.

until next time, socialism 2.0

Zen & the art of SNS monetising

Posted in Internet, Social networking with tags , , on March 28, 2008 by manuscrypts

The thought started from this article, which talked of how Google was losing top execs to Facebook. It apparently isnt just a phase because SNS (social networking sites) are increasingly grappling with the issue of revenue, or rather, the lack of it. These hires apparently fit the bill.

Remember the initial days of the net? I don’t because i was a pretty late starter myself (2000- a virtual space odyssey, thats what my book would be called 😀 ), but that was still the time when (at least in india) revenue was a puzzle for everybody in dotcom, which partly explained the bust that soon happened. They had a partial solution happening with banner ads, and slowly that became the norm. In most places, it still is 😐 . the problem was that to most users, it became a blindspot.

Then came Google, and the era of contextual ads, first in searches as sponsored links, and then in any site in the context it  had content in. It still works. But the net has moved on. So, users know exactly when its useful to them. This is of particular relevance in the case of social networking sites.

At a basic level, I go to SNS to have a conversation with friends –  that could be just plain catching up, bitching about work, life etc or (thanks to facebook) just sharing a common interest over a game of scrabble. Can contextual ads work here? It was a difficult question to answer until one takes a look at the Facebook revenue scene. I personally don’t think it does, for the simple reason that, well, the context is wrong. Unlike search, where my intent is clearly info/purchase, its not so in SNS. This video, while totally out of context, shows what i mean about intent.

So how does a free site (for users) like Facebook get revenue, and god forbid, if they don’t, will they shut down? No, dont call Mummy yet, this WATBlog article clearly shows the Chinese (damn them) have found a way to monetise their SNS, especially QQ. ( what a name. dont ask me kyun) And its not online ads, thats only 13% of the revenue. The rest is from virtual goods, services and mobile.

But i personally think there’s more that can be done. And that has a direct connection to brands. We’ll discuss that next week, after i hear from you.

until next time, remember you need to be social 😀

Bill meets Mark

Posted in Brand, Internet, Social networking with tags , , , on February 26, 2008 by manuscrypts

Well, maybe Bill and Mark have met before in other contexts, but to actually have a promo of MS doing a facebook application in India is perhaps a first. And thats not all, there’s a game on zapak too.

‘Heroes Happen Here’ is the theme of the entire promo being done by MS. While the entire deal looks like a mash up (not literally) of information disseminaton & trials for Visual Studio 2008, Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 (do not close the window, i am as technologically challenged as you are on those) and community building, I, for one, am extremely envious of the brand/product guy who got to do this. It has stuff for IT professionals, developers and enthusiasts.

As you might have guessed, this blog is interested because of the way a social network and a gaming site have been weaved in to the communication strategy. Communication strategy, because i saw an ad for this, not on facebook, but on the rediff homepage. Which means that not only have they spent money on the game and the application, but they’re also spending on advertising the stuff. I say cool!!

I haven’t been able to add the application, but if you do, lemme know how it went.

 until next time, soft socialism