To be sure, fropper.com, which today boasts of over 3.5 million members, has been through some transition in its positioning from being a largely dating site to now more of a social networking that also offers opportunities to build ‘relationships.’
Given the growth in social networking and the fact that dating in the Indian context has floundered for the lack of right users, the site has had to re-manoeuvre its strategy in the market. Now, with this move it’s pushing to build a community that would be driven by budding bloggers as well.
However, there are problems to this strategy as media viewers believe that the site has wasted time in fine-tuning its strategy and, hence, would find it difficult to attract serious bloggers. Also, the industry itself has to deal with some reality checks: “The social networking platform, the world over, has serious problems in generating revenue as it has grown on the back of a personal space (largely rid of advertising).
Today, this space is extremely crowded and competitive and if it has to grow then it has to be by building verticals and by localisation,” says Sanjeev Bikhchandani, co-founder & CEO, InfoEdge (which owns naukri.com).
The site also has to deal with another set of dynamics at work: “This may not attract people who are necessarily half-good bloggers. Also, of the 46 million people that are online, almost 70 per cent are people from SEC A & B and are working professionals. Hence, blogging by that very logic has tended to attract people who are passionate about the genre and very few have gone on to earn money from the segment,” observers Hari Shankar, Business Director, Starcom IP India.
In fact, Shankar also points to the fact that Orkut, the most popular networking site with 10 million people, has not managed to attract quality users, and therefore, has relatively fewer brands. “You find better quality of people on Facebook, which also accounts for the fact that more brands want to be associated with it,” adds Shankar.
However, Mittal is undeterred. He feels that the real draw for the site lies in initiating and inviting first-time bloggers to come into their own. “Many people do not have complete mastery over the English language and we want such people also to come on to us and blog. These are people with ideas as well,” says Mittal. And is he worried that he’s already created a business model for the site that might eat into its revenues? “We do not think so. Globally, it’s a proven model with players such as Metacafe and Revver going in for revenue share model successfully,” he says. “It remains to be seen how much stickiness this can generate, but quality will be an issue that they will have to deal with. This is an issue that brands would like to take into count as well,” says Shankar.
— Shamni Pande