Reliance Entertainment’s social networking site Big Adda (BA) and Ibibo’s new social networking offering Cafe Ibibo (CI) went live recently (you can read Nikhil’s posts about features etc. on ContentSutra here and here respectively.
I spent some time on them in the last couple of days. It’s early days yet, for both, and I would be keenly watching to see how they shape up.
Groups – or addas as they are called on BA – I visited, still have very few members and it might be some time before they achieve critical mass. CI doesn’t have groups, unless I missed out, and continues to attempt building the community around blogs – more on that in a bit. Both looked very similar to Orkut in terms of features, so I wasn’t really sure on what’s the incentive for anyone who’s already on Orkut (a large number now) to move to either.
As a matter of fact 2 clear trends I have recently noticed on Orkut:
- It’s become more mainstream and a somewhat older population is now beginning to adopt it too (I was fairly embarrassed until recently, to acknowledge that I was a member on Okut and would quietly lurk around, watching life go on around me). Now it’s a bit like Ryze + loads of much younger people.
- If youth who were already on Orkut are choosing to adopt new communities too, (they are not abandoning Orkut) then one community that I think finding traction is Facebook. It’s more aspirational – the lure of a more global member-base, coupled with familiar Indian faces (many who have studied or are studying overseas) already friends with global buddies… making them more accessible to new joins. There’s also more that can be done on the site, so many seem to be adopting it because they are perhaps now more comfortable with the concept of SNA and think they can hold their own etc.
Coming back to Ibibo and its blogging initiative – I think, even though they have given their ‘rewards programme’ a new twist by bringing in the criteria of interactivity and quality, and that is DEFINITELY going to clean up the place a lot, will it become a serious blogging platform? I don’t think so! Here’s what I think, but I need to go back a bit, first:
I believe they could have benefited by doing a few things differently earlier…
- They started by hiring a couple of young bloggers with a bit of a following, and these people were supposed to evangelize the new platform. However, that track was soon dropped in favour of the Blogger Hunt. I think they should have, in fact, gotten more of them to adopt; seed; grow the network. In the end the contest got them some people, but they didn’t get any ‘bloggers’ to choose the platform
- Most serious bloggers would anyway not ‘just switch’ one platform for another. It just doesn’t make much sense! Serious bloggers move, but they move to their own domains where they have ownership on content, design; where they appear more credible; where would not be blocked if an entire service was banned at any point in time etc.
- However, perhaps the most important reason ‘bloggers’ didn’t really adopt the platform, was because blogging at some level – even if you are righting a personal diary – is a pursuit to showcase writing prowess; thought leadership; an ability to think better, faster, differently than those around etc.. The focus is on the blogger or the group – if its a community blog – and not on the platform itself. So it is Raj’s blog I want to read, sure it is on Blogger, but the writer is the hero. The platform facilitates; the platform stays in the background.
I think Ibibo’s format overshadowed the individual…
- Now too, I think Rs. 10,000/-, or whatever prize, may not lure serious bloggers to adopt the platform. Simple things like aggregating content from some star writers- well read-credible bloggers- among other things, may go a longer way and prove to be a win-win for all, giving readers quality content under one roof; giving bloggers enhanced following (and even rewards) and Ibibo enhanced credibility and stickiness
- I am anyway not privy to their strategy and they have a great, resilient team – Cafe Ibibo and other new initiatives could just be the beginning.
On the other hand BigAdda could get great support from Zapak.com , which is anyway going great guns and then also from Big 92.3, with which it shares a part of the name.
So then, Orkut? Minglebox (with a pocket full of money now)? BigAdda? Ibibo? Another? Communities can easily be compared to pubs and restaurants – many pubs see initial success but are abandoned as quickly, as crowds move to the next new thing in town; On the other hand, many restaurants sometimes take a little time to build up traffic, but once they do… people keep coming back.
The next hit restaurant (Oops SNA) in town could be anyone yet – we will wait and see! Thoughts!?
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