62697100 Facebook Users in India! But Does That Translate into Business?

Yes, you heard that right!

When it comes to numbers, India comes 3rd in the ranking of all Facebook statistics by country. Although that’s just around 5% (and a little more)  of the Indian population the numbers are still huge. Not surprising to me because almost everyone I know (and I don’t live in a metro) knows about Facebook, about 75% of them have an account, and yet another 60% actively use Facebook to discuss their ideas and views. But what does this mean for Facebook in terms of revenue?

As we all know, Facebook earns its bread and butter largely through advertising. As of April 2012, the social media bellwether has recorded $1.058 billion as revenue for Q1. The third quarter advertising revenue was around $1.09 billion – that’s about 86% of their total revenue! But the Company hasn’t given us a country-wise split of its revenue, which makes us difficult to analyse Facebook trends in India.

These statistics are indeed encouraging, but how do they translate into revenue for Indian advertisers? Active Facebook users in India were once largely made up of the yuppie crowd. But over the last two years, Facebook usage has grown enormously in India. And that’s largely through mobile phones. In fact, almost 30% of its new registrations in India on Facebook were through mobile phones. And we all know the mobile phone platform is one area where Facebook hasn’t managed to monetize successfully.

In India, the focus of a majority of users is to stay updated with friends and family, rather than products. It’s the yuppie crowd that looks beyond this circle. Will this crowd choose to buy through Facebook?

Gaming is another aspect where Facebook earns its profits. But income from this source pales in comparison to income from advertising. In fact, Zynga, Facebook’s largest contributor in terms of gaming apps, had registered only 7% of overall profits in Q3 2012, as compared to 12% in Q3 2011.

Will Companies pay for Fans and Likes?

Take the case of Tata Docomo. This mobile operator has around 10 million fans on Facebook.  While other mobile operators can claim a ‘fan’ base of around 2%, Tata Docomo has a fan-base of around 10%! But the company does not advertise on Facebook, and thus doesn’t contribute to its revenue. All activities happen through the fan base- through comments, likes, etc.  Facebook did try to monetize this segment with its Reach Generator program, but failed miserably

In conclusion:

Mark has rubbished notions that Facebook cannot make money through mobile users. In fact, even as the Company recorded a loss in its Q3 2012 when compared to Q3 figures of 2011, stocks rose around 9.7% as reports indicated that revenue from mobiles contributed 14% of its earnings. Thus, there’s definitely some work going on there in this area, and lets wait for its Q4 2012 reports to see where the trend’s going.

As for social gaming , India definitely has a large percentage of users who’re using Facebook for social gaming. In fact, a recent Neilson India study revealed that almost 84% of Android users had played games on Facebook . It remains to be seen if India can reverse the trend when it comes to increasing revenue through gaming.

Visual.ly makes everyone a designer – The infographic creation tool

Infographics are becoming popular each day because of their ability to make the readers get interested to read even the most boring statistics. Though the concept of infographics is around us for a long time, the idea was not widely used because of the main reason that creation of the infographics needed the work of a professional designer who is expert in image editing tools such as the photoshop or illustrator. If you are hiring a professional company or a professional designer to create the infographics, you would drain your wallet. Wouldn’t that be awesome if there was some tool that anyone can use to create cool infographics.

What would you say if such a tool came completely free? Now I can see the smile on your face and you think I am just joking! But I am pretty serious about this and the free tool is called Visual.ly . When I say there’s a free tool, don’t get your expectation high because Visual.ly has just started adding infographic templates that you can customize with your own data.

Visual.ly was actually an infographic based social network initially where you can share the infographics that you had created. The infographic creation page part was newly added to this social network. The creation part is a web based tool with a drag and drop interface. There are a few preloaded themes available, which you can load up in the application, fire up your creativity and customize it by dragging and dropping theme elements.

The most interesting part of this web app is that, you do not need any graphic design knowledge to create cool infographics. I tried the tool myself by customizing the “twitterize” theme available in their collection. I just entered credentials of my twitter profile and the app did rest of the job. It analyzed the profile and presented a well detailed infographic. You can also create twitter infographics where you compare yourselves with celebrities or anyone. Trust me, the infographic creation part is real fun and I can see that Visual.ly I working hard in adding new themes as well.

Though for now Visual.ly cannot help you create commercial infographics as “pictochart” does, work is in progress to make this web based application to become a full-fledged infographic creation tool. With the power of social awareness that Visual.ly has, when the tool is in place, this would be the talk of the Silicon Valley

Now, never Forget your Friend’s Birthday

If you are one of those who keep forgetting your friend’s birthdays, then you need to take a little help from Fumes. It is also a fact that the inability of people to remember their friend’s birthday continues to be a major cause of irritation in friendships.

Fumes is a free service which stores your email, and delivers to the recipient at the requested time & date in the future. Now, Fumes has added another feather to it cap – It can remind you of your Friend’s Birthday if you have an account with Facebook. You can subscribe for Fumes’s Birthday reminder service for free and get automated reminder emails for all your friend’s birthdays.

When somebody logs to Fumes using their Facebook account, an option of selecting your friend’s birthday will appear. If you wish to get reminded of your friends’ birthday, then you can choose that option. If they give the yes option, their Birthdays will be stored in Fumes. Whenever, these Birthdays happen you will get a reminder from Fumes. Set it, so you do not forget it.

The above feature of Fumes is a simple way of remembering friend’s birthdays. The original idea for the website was simple, remind people of various events by getting a reminder mail from Fumes. We received such a positive feedback that we began to add new features to Fumes. The above option of getting a reminder of your friend’s Birthday happened due to this experiment.

The good thing about Fumes is that it keeps track of as many friend’s birthdays as you like. At Fumes, we are committed to providing a cool service which is a true benefit to our users. We listen to and respond to user’s feedback and most of the features of Fumes have been made as a direct result of this interaction.

The New Look Twitter

Twitter has made a major redesign of its service that makes the interface simpler for users. The goal is to resolve complexity around concepts like the hashtag or the ‘at’ symbol.

Check, fly.twitter.com for details of the above changes.

Another major change for brands  is new brand pages.

See screenshot of @JetBlue below:

The two big changes are a new banner just below the profile information that stretches across the page and the ability to pin a tweet at the top of each brand’s stream. This will give brands a more distinctive presence on Twitter.

Twitter is launching the new brand pages with 21 partners: @AmericanExpress,   @BestBuy @bing ,   @chevrolet,   @CocaCola,   @Dell , @DisneyPixar,  @generalelectric,   @Heineken,  @HP,  @intel,  @JetBlue,  @Kia,  @McDonalds,  @nikebasketball,  @NYSE_Euronext,   @GhostProtocol, @pepsi,   @Staples,  @subwayfreshbuzz, and   @VerizonWireless.

However, you will need to use the new version of Twitter to see the above Brand pages. Twitter will slowly roll out enhanced profile pages to a wider audience of brands in the coming months. To learn more go to fly.twitter.com/ads. To learn how to get the new version of Twitter, go to fly.twitter.com.

50% of Web sales will come via social, mobile apps by 2015

As much as 50% of a company’s Web sales will come through social and mobile applications by 2015, according to Gartner. The increase will come as e-commerce vendors offer context-aware, mobile-based applications.

Gartner said further:

Gartner analysts discussed the future of e-commerce at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, taking place here through today. As the number of mobile phones overtakes PCs, customers will use mobile browsers and applications as the main points of interaction.

“E-commerce organizations will need to scale up their operations to handle the increased visitation loads resulting from customers not having to wait until they are in front of a PC to obtain answers to questions or place orders,” said Gene Alvarez, research vice president at Gartner. “In time, e-commerce vendors will begin to offer context-aware mobile-shopping solutions as part of their overall Web sales offerings.”

“Customers are clamoring for new and easy ways to interact with the organizations they deal with, and no company should think itself immune to this new business dynamic,” Mr. Alvarez said. “As more people use smartphones, they will expect an extension of their customer experience to be supported by this kind of device while demanding that social aspects of the Web be intertwined with this experience. At the same time, organizations are looking toward new countries and regions for growth. As a result, it is time to take a fresh look at your organization’s Web sales capabilities to ensure that social software, mobile technology and globalization are part of your organization’s online future.”

Industries such as entertainment, software development/publishing and media are being driven by fast-moving changes in their businesses, such as mobility, and the increasing number of mobile devices available to their buyers. Others are finding that sales of additional services and products can be added to their customer-service-focused websites. Due to consumerization, sites in all industries are being impacted by customer experience delivered in the retail space, as customers continue to use their online experiences as the benchmark by which to evaluate all others.

Gartner predicts that by 2013, 80 percent of North American and European online sellers will expand into Brazil, Russia, India, Africa, Japan or China. Organizations based in North America and Western Europe are already launching website-based sales operations in new countries, in the hope of expanding to new markets. These organizations believe that untapped countries can spur growth by enabling the enticing of potential customers who have never purchased from the organization, but who have a desire for its products.

“The increasing availability of access to the Internet via PCs, laptops and mobile devices is creating new sales channels in countries, because entry barriers are lowering, thereby increasing the number of online shoppers,” said Mr. Alvarez. “By entering these countries via an Internet sales model, organizations can establish a presence in locations without having to create a physical sales location.”

E-commerce managers in Type A (leading) organizations and industries, such as travel, hospitality, retail, consumer electronics, media and entertainment, will begin to take advantage of GPS location services enabled by phones to push personalized, location-based content to mobile devices for users who have subscribed to these services. This content will be created via the use of customer patterns and their link to driving sales. These organizations will also have connected (via Web browsers and mobile applications) to many social communities, enabling the organizations to tap into the social networks of customers and leverage the wisdom of the crowd.

The above news is cool for Social & Mobile apps developers.

Orkut then, Facebook now !

Did you know that Orkut & Facebook were launched almost at the same time ? Orkut was launched on January 22, 2004 & Facebook on 4th February 2004.

A Google engineer named Orkut Buyukkokten, developed Orkut as part of the 20% time granted by Google to its employees to work on independent projects. Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his dorm room at Harvard .

Orkut was the dominant social networking site until Facebook surpassed it to take the top position. As of September 2011, Facebook had more than 800 million active users. Whereas, as of October 2011, Orkut had only 66 million active users worldwide. However, in December 2006, Facebook had only 12 million active users & Orkut had around 30 million users(October, 2006) .

We can see that the growth of Orkut has been dormant. So, what was the reason for the decline of Orkut vis-à-vis Facebook ?

Although Orkut is less popular than Facebook in the United States, it is one of the most visited websites in Brazil (58 % of users of Orkut) and India( 32% of users of Orkut). However, Orkut is popular only in some countries like India and Brazil while Facebook is popular among people all over the world.

Orkut, required an invitation to join till October 2006. This invitation was one of the reasons behind Orkut’s failure to compete with MySpace. Facebook became invitation-free in September 2006.

According to me, the following reasons, led to the decline of Orkut & growth of Facebook:

1. In August 2008, the operations of Orkut shifted to Brazil from the US. This was done due to the large number of users in Brazil & cropping up of legal issues in the US. However, Orkut’s popularity sharply fell in 2010, when most users in Brazil & India switched over to Facebook.

2. Facebook allowed any developer to develop applications from the beginning & there is a active & vibrant Community of Facebook application developers.

3. No doubt, Facebook is a better product than Orkut. Facebook has better features than Orkut & there are regular upgrades to it. Facebook also has a better User-interface than Orkut.

4. The Social gaming apps like FarmVille, FishVille, Mafia Wars, Sudoku and others helped Facebook beat Orkut.

5. Orkut does not allow User profiles to be indexed by Search Engines . See the Robots.txt @ http://www.orkut.com/robots.txt . May be due to this reason, it was impossible for you to find lost friends in Orkut, through Google. This may be one of reasons, why Orkut lost lot of Web traffic & hence users (As you know, around 40% of users arrive at any website through Search Engines).

However, the User profiles of Facebook are indexed by Search Engine Spiders. I have found a lot of my lost friends through a Google search result which was directed to User profiles in Facebook. Ironically, the whole idea of not allowing profiles to be searchable in Search Engines was to protect privacy of users of Orkut.

6. The only way to get noticed in Orkut is by putting your snaps. Facebook on the other hand presents you with ample of opportunities to be noticed. You write on your wall, which is liked or commented upon. The comments and like tempts similar people to do the same.

7. I am not aware of a single celebrity who has an Orkut account. On the other hand, there are tons of Celebrities who have a Facebook page. So, today it’s fashionable to say “I am on Facebook”.

8. One of the reasons for the decline of Orkut was privacy issues which even led to legal tangles. However, Facebook kept fixing their privacy issues, as they arose.

I do not think there is a question of preferring one over the other. There are lots & lots of people who still have accounts in Orkut only & and not in Facebook. I still, use Orkut as many of my friends are there. If they stop using Orkut and start using Facebook, I will also go ahead and do the same.

The Rise & Rise of Local Search Marketing

It is a fact that a lot of people have abandoned phone books and yellow pages and are now actively pursuing Google and other search engines to find local businesses. A recent survey from Pew Research says that the Internet plays an increasingly large role in providing local information for 79 % of all online Americans.

With millions of Searches happening daily, it is most likely that someone is trying to search for the service or the product your business offers. However, are they finding you or are they finding your competitor in a local search?

Local Search marketing is part of a wider Search Marketing strategy. Despite the increased possibility of sourcing our products and services from anywhere in the world, many still look locally. Also, the importance of locality plays a great role in people’s searching habits. Local search marketing is all about optimizing your online visibility for a specific location. This location is usually where the business is based or where the target market is located.

Local Search Engine Optimization aims to divert local traffic to your website from Search Engines. It is a current trend among Internet users to make their search for businesses, products or services location specific. Local SEO makes the search more specific, thereby, increasing local traffic to your website from Search Engines.

This involves creating listings in local business directories & Search Engines. We can create business listing in Google places , Yahoo local and Bing business portal . Each of these listings should have the same profile information. Make sure that you do not have more than 1 listing (i.e., Duplicate listings) in each of the Local Search Engines. It is to be noted that Major local traffic is generated by these 3 Search engines.

In short, many Small businesses are turning to local Search marketing for their local advertising needs. Small businesses, which take advantage of this opportunity, have the best chance to succeed in the market.