The startup ecosystem in India has seen a considerable number of Social Networks come up. We have Treetle, Revelri, and Knimbus as some of the well known social networks from India. Internationally many startups have tried out various combinations and have churned out different types of social networks as well. The issue here being, the success of Facebook as a standalone social network depicted (as a mirage) this segment’s incredible success rate. With the recent news of Facebook India paying new users Rs.50 (About $1) for registering through the mobile site, one needs to delve in deeper behind the act.
On primary observation it appears that Facebook wants more people to log in through their cell phones. The details include: a credit of Rs.50 for every referral that you bring. The amount is given in the form of talktime. The offer is only valid when you register through the special link - http://m.facebook.com/tt. It appears as the usual registration flow and you do not even require an email address to register this way. Facebook claims to credit the amount in 3 days time.
A lot has been said over Facebook not being able to generate a considerable amount of revenue via ads. If it is able to create a large pool of mobile users, it can show the numbers for getting better ads. But how far can this strategy work? Considering the type of people in India, the firm should expect a lot of fake profiles to be created soon; all for the sake of the 50 bucks.
Startups other than the social networks use social media marketing for the promotional activities. But for the social networks themselves, it becomes difficult to catch the online crowd. It is because of this reason that they have to resort to tangible offerings for their marketing needs. But, this actually does not serve the purpose.
Talking of tangible offerings, we also have Zurker.in, started by the Winklewoss twins, offering a share (stock option) in their social network to each user. This seems innovative, but it seems to have failed in gathering more users.
We do not know how long this strategy will last. A new sim-card a many places is available for INR 10, registering the number on Facebook takes some 2-3 Rupees via GPRS connection, and once you receive the 50 bucks, it is still an income of 38-40 rupees; fair strategy for an idle mind.
Among the niche social networks from India, we have Indian Patients Foundation, a social network for patients!