Flatparty: A new social networking website launched in India

In addition to basic social networking features, Flatparty offers new features such as blogging and event management.

Flatparty: A new social networking website launched in India

Flatparty: A new social networking website launched in India

The social-networking segment is continuously getting crowded despite being dominated by the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The latest entrant to this space is Flatparty. Launched by Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor at an event in New Delhi last week, the new social networking website aims to connect users with their family and friends as well as targets the businesses.

In addition to basic social networking features such as multimedia sharing, Flatparty has a range of new features such as ability to send text message, manage events, organise meetings and conferences, track attendance of participants, groups.

The network also has blog, polls, forum, videos and music sections. The wide range of features are aimed at providing a platform to the general public, politicians, opinion leaders, etc. to connect their target public/ groups through this social networking site. You can sign up for Flatparty.com from here.

Dr. Shashi Tharoor inaugurated the site with Anto Toms, CEO, Flatparty_ Inc

Responding to a question on issues related to online privacy, Anto Toms, CEO Flatparty, said the data of users on the social network is highly secure. He also said that Flatparty is only available for users above 13 years old.

Anto Toms, CEO, Flatparty_ Inc. during his Live demonstration of flatparty.com

According to Mr. Anto Toms, the company will soon roll out mobile version of Flatparty. There are also plans to incorporate ads on the network in the near future.

“Flatparty is set to provide distinctive user experience and achieve leadership through innovative platform features, powered by superior technology, based on world-class research and development,” said Anto Toms while giving a presentation on the new network.

“With our new social networking platform, we leverage latest technology to connect and bring people closer and associate like-minded people in their areas of interests,” he added.

India now has the world’s third largest Internet population: ComScore

The study shows India is the second fastest growing Internet population with an overwhelming 31% year-over-year growth, which is six times of the global online population growth.

India now has the world's third largest Internet population: ComScore

India now has the world’s third largest Internet population: ComScore

India has gone past Japan to become the third largest Internet population, rising to 73.9 million users – a 31% growth as compared to the last year. India is now behind China (second largest) and the U.S. at the top. The new statistics were revealed in the ComScore study India Digital Future in Focus 2013.

According to the study, about 75% of Internet users in India are under the age of 35, making it the youngest skewing online population among BRIC countries. Across all age and gender groups, Women between the ages of 35-44 are the heaviest internet users in the Indian market.

The study further says the Indian blogging audience has risen by 48% in the past year to 36 million visitors. About 26% of category traffic comes from mobile phones and tablets. About 54 million internet users in the country watch online videos on their computer, showing a 27% increase over the past year.

Revealing the growth of e-commerce websites in India, the study says about 60% Internet users in India visit online retail websites. Myntra leads the segment in terms of users, while Flipkart has the highest per-user engagement. Jabong, Amazon sites and Snapdeal make it to the top five online stores in India.

Social networking websites are still favourite online activity in India. Facebook is the top social network in India with a 28% Internet traffic growth and reach of 86%. On an average, Indian spend 217 minutes on Facebook every month. LinkedIn has emerged second top social networking site in India while Pinterest and Tumbler are the fastest growing networks.

Audience for online videos in India rose 27% with YouTube continues to be the top video property with more than 55% share.

“This past year saw digital media’s continued rise in prominence as part of peoples’ personal lives and in business environments. Consumers are quickly becoming platform agnostic in their digital media consumption and in today’s world they can choose when and how they’d like to consume content. It might be that they started watching a film at home on their TV, continued watching it on their smartphone on the way to work, and finished watching it in bed at night on their tablet. It’s the pinnacle of convenience for consumers, but an utter headache from an audience measurement and advertising analytics standpoint,” says the study.

“comScore has adapted to thischanging digital world to become a trusted resource for understanding cross-platform consumer behaviour and enabling multi-platform unification of all data.Consumers have already adopted multiple platforms and devices – now it’s the businesses who need to follow if they desire a unified, platform-agnostic view of consumer behaviour.”

You can download the ComScore study India Digital Future in Focus 2013 from here.

Indian social networking websites: Can they survive?

When we talk about the top social networks, we hardly have any Indian site in that list. Do the Indian websites have the potential to make it big? Do we really need a full-fledged desi social networking site?

Indian social networking websites: Can they survive?

India is one of the key markets for the top international networking websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook has about 43.5 million users in India, while LinkedIn has more than 20 million users in the country. LinkedIn claims it saw a 500 percent growth since it began India operations in November 2009. Both these networks offer customised services for the Indian audience and have gained immense popularity in the country over the years. While the international social media sites are reaping profits in the country, there are very few Indian websites that have managed to carve their place in the social networking segment.

Despite the fact that the Indians, especially the young generation, have been hyperactive on these networks, we are yet to have an Indian website that stands toe-to-toe against the likes of Facebook and Twitter in terms of user base and popularity within India. Most of the Indian social networks target small communities or similar interest groups.

However, websites such as ApnaCircle.com – an Indian professional network, BharatStudent.com – social network for students, Ibibo andWorldfloat.com have shown homegrown social networking websites have the potential to compete with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

Worldfloat.com’s founder Pushkar Mahatta recently revealed that his network had gone past 6 million users and is expected to hit the 10 million milestone very soon. “On Worldfloat you can do everything you do on Facebook. But we have added several unique features. The most important is virtual games,” aHindustan Times report quotes Mr. Pushkar as saying.

BharatStudent claims to have 5 million unique visitors per month with 40-45 million page views.However, Bharat Student focusses on being a student networking portal and mostly contains educational and entertainment content.

“Exam results and Movie reviews are attracting huge student crowds to Bharat Student. Bharat student is no.1 student networking portal not social networking,” says the company.

On why are there very few social networking websites in India, Bharat Student adds: “The Reason is very simple. No one can compete with Facebook. Even Orkut was unable give competition to Facebook. That was the reason Bharatstudent joined hands with Facebook and Integrated features!”

ApnaCircle.com is one of the popular professional networks in the country. ApnaCircle has over 3 million subscribed users in India. The site serves a younger demography with an average age ranging from 25-30.

“Our USP lies in our GLO-CAL strategy… Unlike other global networks, ApnaCircle.com is the online global network made for Indian professionals while possessing the customized and invariably consumer friendly features to help consumers leverage the global exposure through ApnaCircle – Viadeo – Tianji,” says Yogesh Bansal, Founder and CEO, ApnaCircle.com in an interview with Digit.

Yogesh Bansal also sheds light on how his website plans to compete with the international networks such as LinkedIn.

“ApnaCircle began as an Indian social professional network. The origin has always been Indian. So yes, we are the only local players who have succeeded to get where we are, all the other players if you see are international. We are aware there is a big market to capture and the nos. are only growing. There might be first movers, however, professional networking captures or caters to a need which is never ending in the consumer market, i.e., the need for business and career opportunities. An individual requires branding and it should be his professional obligation to do so. As that not only gives him control on what others view about him but also opens up an avenue of opportunities,” he added.

“Talking from an Indian point of view, Indians are culturally and mentally bent onto education and career. Families go out of the way and support them in doing so. Given an appropriate return on investment they would not mind spending on themselves even on two different networks.”

Facebook Users Growth in India

What Indian websites need to do… and the challenges they face

If the figures are to be trusted, the Indian social media sites are doing decently, though a lot has to be accomplished in the near future. When we talk about “a lot”, we emphasise on quality, dynamism and most importantly, privacy.

One of the possible reasons behind why we prefer international social networking websites is the superior quality and dynamic features such as multimedia sharing and messaging. In addition to the exposure to global community, these sites have integrations with other popular websites.

Moreover, interest-based communities are already existing on these international websites. To tap the local communities, Facebook and Twitter have come up with customised services such as closed groups, language support, geo-tagging and ads.

If an Indian site aspires to surpass these sites in terms of popularity, it’ll have to work on all the above mentioned aspects. There are certainly going to be more challenges in the way. Meeting the quality of the likes of Facebook and Twitter isn’t going to be easy. The international sites are backed by a huge force of advertisers and a range of paid services. However, there are a host of Indian sites doing well in terms of revenues from advertisers.

There has to be a special focus on delivering something unique, which appeals to the Indian users as well as global community. The encouraging models such as ApnaCircle.com and Worldfloat.com have the potential of homegrown social networks. Given India’s diverse culture, tastes and interests, a full-fledged Indian social network website can really do well.

Do you think an Indian social networking website can surpass Facebook’s or Twitter’s popularity in the country?  Let us know in the comments section below: