Archive for Orkut

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.

More Socialising

Posted in Social networking with tags , on February 18, 2008 by manuscrypts

I’d written this a while back on social networking sites and their relevance/irrelevance, and now i see this. If you’re too lazy to click, Orkut is letting developers make their social applications available to Orkut users.

In the post I mentioned earlier, I had written how Facebook scores over Orkut due to the sheer pull of different elements which cater to my interests and the way it also allows me to relate to my friends on many different planes. The simple idea being that I’m a blogger, an F1 enthusiast, an avid reader, A Heroes fan etc . My friends also share many of these interests, and there are multiple applications which cater to all of these. Orkut’s only efforts so far has been groups (which Facebook also has) and that was just not enough. The latest announcement means that Orkut’s expansion of services are going to be in that direction.

While that may spark the thought that it might level the playing field, I , for one, dont think so. For starters, Facebook already has the first mover advantage in the space. That can be argued because crowds have a tendency to flock towards the latest new thing as far as social networks go. But, I’ve seen a lot of Orkut users climbing on to Facebook and then saying ‘Its way too confusing’. For the non-confused Facebook user, its a good place to be, because the confusion acts a filter which prevents the clutter in Orkut. So I don’t think a lot of Facebook users will go to Orkut for the applications. That, however is something that depends a lot on the applications developed. Lastly, Orkut has managed to collect a lot of users hat are undesirable. These are spam/porn guys and the ‘I want to do friendship with you’ specimens who are still regulars in Orkut. So, while Orkut’s applications might be killers, a lot of potential users might be put off owing to the damage already done, the new privacy features notwithstanding.

until next time, socialise 🙂

Social Responsibility

Posted in India, Social networking with tags , , on January 21, 2008 by manuscrypts

And the mother of ’em all is finally here- My Space. I wonder if the promos happening on Channel V for its campus star is My Space’s idea of an Indian launch. I hope not, because i kinda liked Big Adda’s efforts, and hope to see a good brand campaign from My Space.Meanwhile, i read this article recently, which talked about social networking fatigue.

While it did make interesting reading, and gave what could be a popular perspective about the sites, i would tend to disagree on the fatigue factor.While I admit to being a more recent convert to all the sites, i’ve been on orkut and facebook long enough to have come across fatigue if it was lurking there. In fact, the case could be true of orkut where my involvement has perhaps seen a downturn after i joined facebook. But thats because Orkut doesnt have enough meat (IMHO) to keep me interested, and that’s precisely what differentiates Facebook. Its not just about messages and photo sharing, vampires/werewolves and forwards, its also about applications which cater to your interests in life – be it word games like scrabble, Tv shows like Heroes, or the philosophy of Ayn Rand, or a simply super group like ‘I love trashy Hindi movies’, the list just goes on.

I can’t see fatigue setting in when i’m playing scrabble with friends, while buying and selling in the fantasy stock exchange, and doing a likeness test with my friends and so on. In fact, the kind of fatigue i see is in the number of sites that keep cropping up. While (with the entry of My Space) we have three globally recognised networks, we also have the local clones like minglebox, yaari, Big Adda etc. And here’s were the fight will happen.Thats because there are users, and quite possibly the majority, who are into the social networking sites because its the in thing, and offers the (by now) plain vanilla benefit of connecting with friends. Once that connecting is done, their attention span becomes fleeting, and they’d hop, skip and jump to the newest site before you can say ‘Scrap’.

So every new site launched and every new campaign for them would create a ripple in that market.But then, there’s also the user who’ll try to derive value from a network which offers such avenues for him, and for him there’s no fatigue. If the site keeps adding stuff that will add to the user stickiness, then they would have to worry only if a better product comes into the market, not because of the wannabes that appear from time to time.

In essence, social networks, as every other commodity, will be solely responsible for how long they keep the user, depending on the value they create.So you see, the writing, as they say, is on the wall 🙂

and i bid adieu, wishing you all the best in your socialising efforts..