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.

Not just hashtags and embeds: What else Facebook stole from Twitter

Following Twitter, Facebook has just decided to roll out a new feature:  Embeded posts. The feature will allow users to post Facebook posts on other Web pagesRead more about the feature here.

But, embedded posts is only the latest in the long list of Twitter features that Facebook has aped from the microblogging site. We’re all for evolution and bettering user experience, but lately a lot of Facebook’s new features have us going… ‘wait where have we seen that one before?’

Here are some of the features that Twitter rolled out before Facebook even thought of it:

Hashtag: Just before the embed posts, Facebook had copied the hashtag feature from Twitter. While Twitter users have been using the # symbol as a prefix to a word or phrase to group related tweets for quite some time, Twitter began hyperlinking hashtags from July 2009. Facebook began rolling the feature only in June 2013.

However, the hashtags feature that Facebook had copied from Twitter has not seemed to work for the site. Recently, a study by a social media analytics firm, Simply Measured, said that using hashtags in Facebook posts may be a fun strategy for companies trying to grab the attention of consumers, but it doesn’t appear to be working that way.

Verified account: That blue and white icon with a check mark is a much desired badge on Twitter, which shows your account is authentic. Twitter’s verified account feature dates back to 2009. But, last month that Facebook announced its own blue check mark for “authentic accounts of celebrities and other high-profile people and businesses on Facebook.”  Unlike Twitter, Facebook will verify authentic identities on its own and users cannot request to have a profile or Page verified.

Follow: Earlier, you had to be friends with someone to get his updates on Facebook. That changed with the  ’Subscribe’ button, introduced in September 2011 (and renamed to ‘Follow’ in December 2012). You can now get updates without being friends. This feature is quite similar to Twitter’s follow feature.

Mentions: While Twitter added support for @mentions (or @replies or tagging) in May 2008, Facebook’s integration came more than a year later in September 2009.

Hover over username for info: Twitter had this feature, where hovering over a username would display an information box with the users’ details (Twitter has now changed the action from rollover to click) and this, obviously, also found its way into the Facebook user experience.

Anything else we are missing? Let us know in the comments.

Facebook’s hashtags fail to drive user engagement: Report

A study has found the newly introduced hashtags feature is yet to drive user engagement on Facebook. The study also reveals visual content have greater impact.

Facebook's hashtags fail to drive user engagement: Report

Facebook’s hashtags fail to drive user engagement: Report

Facebook had borrowed Twitter’s hashtags with an hope to increase user engagement on the social network. Almost one and half month after its introduction, the hashtags have failed to catch up, says a new study conducted by a social media analytics firm Simply Measured. The study says there’s no evidence that shows any impact on engagement on the network.

According to researchers, posts with the hashtags perform same as those without it, which suggests users aren’t using the tags for finding brand posts. The study further says the visual content has greater impact in terms of user engagement on Facebook.

Photos posted by top brands saw more than 9,400 engagements, which includes likes, comments and shares, per post, while videos had average more than 2,500. The text-only posts aren’t doing that well, adds the study.

“For most brands, Facebook is no longer just a network; it has become the hub of their social marketing efforts and one of the most effective ways to engage with fans,” says Adam Schoenfeld, CEO of the firm Simply Measured.

However, the study points out the hashtags may start delivering when more brands start using the feature.

“As brands integrate more Facebook hashtags in social campaigns, and Facebook users become more familiar with discovering content through hashtags, post engagement will indicate whether including hashtags is an effective brand tactic,” notes the study.

You can view the full report of Simply Measured’s Facebook study here:

Simply Measured in a separate post explains which tactics are driving engagement on the network.

Source: Simply Measured

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:

Facebook Changes Cover Photo Rules (Again): 3 Things You Still Shouldn’t Do

3 Things You Shouldn't Do On Your Cover Photo

3 Things You Shouldn’t Do On Your Cover Photo

Facebook has quietly removed the “20% text rule” for Page cover photos. In case you weren’t aware, since March 2013, Facebook has had a guideline stipulating that cover photos on Facebook could not include more than 20 percent text. This rule caused both confusion and frustration among business Page owners. It was often hard to judge whether or not a cover image was in compliance. And some brands seemed to get away with breaking the rules, while others didn’t.

But as of today, according to the updated Facebook Page Guidelines, it appears that the rule has disappeared. So what does this mean for businesses? Go crazy! Actually, not really. What it means is that businesses need to find that fine line between “just enough” and “way too much.” Just because the cover photo can now have as much text as you’d like, doesn’t mean you should abuse the space.

Here’s how the new guidelines appear:

Facebook Page Guidelines

The rule may be gone, but there are 3 things you still should NOT do with your Facebook cover photo: 

1. Overcrowd the space

A cover photo is 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. Although it’s one of the largest image spaces on Facebook, text still needs to be used strategically.  When creating your new cover photo, make sure your text is organized, readable and makes sense. Don’t try to cram everything in at once. Use a font, and a font size, that is legible. People naturally read left to right, so keep this in mind when adding text to your cover photo: Don’t try to be so clever that visitors have to work hard to read the type.

In addition, don’t try to convey too many ideas at once. If you want to promote a new eBook or PDF download, go for it. Just don’t promote your latest eBook, a PDF download and new website all in the same cover photo. Spread it out and highlight one idea per photo. Focusing on one thing at a time also motivates you to change your cover photo frequently, something I suggest.

2. Be too sales-y

A few months ago Facebook removed cover photo guidelines stating that a business Page’s cover could not include any form of call to action. Since then, businesses have had the opportunity to experiment with promoting products, giveaways and contests through their cover photos, but were still limited by the 20 percent text rule. Now that the limit is gone, businesses should be careful to not be over sales-y on their cover photos.

It’s important to remember that Facebook is a place where people like to chat with their friends, see photos and interact with their favorite brands in a personal way. Turning your cover photo into a digital billboard might be dangerous for your business. Instead, try to think of creative ways to promote your products and contests. For example, instead of saying “New hair straightener, BUY NOW!” try something like “Still having bad hair days? We’ve got the solutions you need at [insert website]!”

3. Forget the power of a picture

Bottom line: Just because you can now fit a gazillion words on a cover photo doesn’t mean you should. Remember that pictures still speak louder than words when it comes to Facebook. When you update your cover photo, the image will appear in your fans’ News Feed, so keep in mind that Facebook users respond more to images than they do to text. A strong photo of your team, or your product, could bring you more attention than a cover photo crammed with words.