One of my clients is a global auto company and for one of its small cars that it was aiming to push in the small towns of India, we were recently discussing how we can engage the audience in these regions in an exciting manner using a digital platform. Social media engagement is good for the young crowd in urban areas but when it comes to small towns where laptops and internet broadband connectivity are still issues, there were limitations. We agree that one of the workable ways could be mobile phone, which we all know that almost everyone from a rickshaw wallah to a corporate CEO owns one.
But is mobile exciting enough? That was our next conversation. For sure we have the short codes SMS and some interesting IVR stuff. We can also probably create WAP sites and some banner ads. Not engaging enough still.
Here are some salient features that you might not know about mobile social networking:
1. There are a lot of users. Rocketalk has around 5mn. That’s almost on par or more than some well known global and Indian social networking sites. Check out this Jan 2010 blog post from Rocketalk.
2. These sites are targeted towards the young population in Tier II and small towns who don’t have a laptop/PC but who have mobile phones with data connection. 60-80%% of users are from small towns.
3. We normally are on Facebook to connect with old friends. Generally many users on mobile social networking sites use the service to find new friends. In fact, you can specify age, gender, location, etc. and search for new people as soon as you create your profile on the site. Users from small towns often say their friends are right next door in their neighborhoods – why spend money on the data connection to connect with them when you can just visit their houses any day.
4. Users do a lot of fun stuff like play a virtual antakshari game or send virtual gifts to total strangers even if buying those gifts costs anywhere starting from Rs. 10-20 each. They also upload pictures and videos.
Also Rocketalk just opened up an API recently so we might see some nice applications in this space. Rocketalk is not the only player. We also have Mig33, which I suppose is promising and interesting equally. Here’s an interview of Mohit from Mig33. Will connect more and try to do more posts around this in the future.
What I’m interested to see now is how these sites gear themselves up for brands and corporates. When Facebook opened up itself to brands and created Facebook pages, it did make a very smart move. Now we see every brand on Facebook doing their own thing and ultimately all that is making Facebook a very fun place to be at for everyone.