Was not very surprised to see this article in the CIOL newsletter that a new social network site called Go!Yaar is up which is aimed at the Indian community. I have been looking at Rent-A-Coder to see if there are projects worth working on and I observed that almost every 10th website project is a facebook or a myspace clone.
As I see it, until now the Indian online social community has been pretty much polarised – either you are on Orkut or you arent. And the Indian subcontinent contributes to one of the biggest ethnic and geographical social networks online in Orkut barring otherwise the Brazilians(?). Its almost 4 years that Orkut came online and its now that the Indian social networking sites are waking up to the smell of fresh coffee. No wonder Rajan says India is on average 3 years behind the valley.
Now back to Go! Yaar. Two of the biggest points is about the strategy itself. Its interesting to find what they write about building Go!Yaar on the existing social networks – universities, colleges and corporates; which is to say puzzling. Other than the premier institures in India, say the IITs, IIITs, BITS, etc no other college or university boasts of a email address! So its puzzling which email addresses they are going to leverage. Early adopters cannot exist in isolation in a social network.
Also, though India is slowly picking up on the ecommerce front, it is nowhere near the position where we can monetize the tremendous value in the online ad marketing or sales as did MySpace.
As I see it, Go!Yaar has its tasks very well cut out:
- Getting people to first migrate to their site from Orkut. i.e build the intial critical mass of early adopters
- Once they reach the critical mass, the other friends would not wait long to join the Go!Yaar site. But how? I dont have a college email id?!!!
- Change its name. Too ABCDish/NRIsh name. The target audience because of the name is very very niche, looks like it targets the urban hip hop crowd.
- Find ways to monetize the social network. Google Ads or any of the Ad Affiliate programs might not be of much help. We are fools to click the ad once, but twice? Remeber, we as yet dont buy my new camera by seeing the ad.
- Think of better ways to get people faster onto their site: Migration must be very easy. Make that migration automatic for me will ya? That is precisely why we see mass migrations to WordPress.
- Try to win where others lost out badly. sms.co.in, fropper (have stopped seeing the fropper ads on TV long since, what happened?), friendster, hi5… You are the entrepreneur, you find out.
- Tries to be too good at too many things. Make each one as seamlessly and perfect apeice as possible.
- Get the early adopters (premier educational institutions, corporates) to adopt it with gusto and stay on the site. Find methods to get these early adopters hooked to the site.
The plusses however are it aims to be a very tightly integrated set of online services, blogs, video, email video, photo album, IM. But this one looks like it can be poised to strike big if it can stay afloat without taking that financial hit and also not to speak of the steady migration of the early adopters into the site. Promise of mobile integration is interesting but unless until the features are compelling enough to solve one main pain point of offline social networking aspect, there is no way I will waste my 1 rupee on sms.
It will be interesting to see how this one fares. I have tried to go to Fropper but its too much of a fad to be of really much value to me. As of now, inspite of its crappy server, its Orkut that I am on, all my friends are there only