The (Cool) New Kids On The (Social Media) Block

facebook-twitterTo imagine a time before Facebook is not only difficult, but honestly is a little depressing too. And I speak for everyone when I say, Tweeting has become an activity as natural as breathing. Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, the social media space will never be the same again. Though, they by no means invented social media, they have played a big role in reinventing it.

Inspired by the success these two have enjoyed, many have gone to town creating versions of their own, unfortunately not all have been met with the same amount of enthusiasm or success.

Today, we take a look at a few promising social sites, that will possibly help us answer the question a few of us have already been asking, ‘After Facebook and Twitter, what?’

1.    Foursquare – Since its launch in 2009, this location-based mobile game doing double duty as a social networking platform has found ready and easy resonance with social media enthusiasts and other early adopters. foursquare_logoIn almost a year’s time, Foursquare has managed to convince more than seven hundred thousand people to give it a try. No mean task that, especially in the first year, for a service that targets a niche market of mobile users. Little surprise then that it is being hailed as the Twitter of 2010. With over 20 million ‘check-ins’ happening everyday, even pathological naysayers will find it difficult to dismiss it as a fad.

2.    Gowalla
gowalla_logoThe fact that the next on the list is also a location-based social networking mobile game will readily attest to the importance of mobility and location in the social space. Though Gowalla originally got a head start on Foursquare, until the breakout success of its chief competitor, it was hardly able to mobilize that advantage. But a year on, things are certainly looking up for Gowalla, having tasted sweet victory by trumping Foursquare at SXSW to take home the best mobile app award for 2010. In comparison with Foursquare’s user stats, Gowalla’s 150,000 odd users may not look like anything worth writing home about, but over the last few months it has enjoyed a steady growth that is substantively impressive, as revealed by the recent deal with the Travel Channel, which echoes the Foursquare – Bravo Network deal, to integrate proprietary Travel Channel content (Food Wars to be precise) with the game.

3.    Chatroulette
– I almost didn’t believe it when I first read that the most talked about social app on the web, Chatroulette, is the brainchild of a 17 year old. Andrey Ternovskiy of Russia developed Chatroulette ‘for fun’ with no monetization plans, so that he and his friends could ‘randomly connect’ with people on the web. A good way to describe Chatroulette is as an online ‘speed dating’ game aided by webcams, but a better way will be as a game of chance meetings online. When you play a game of Chatroulette, you are automatically paired with a random player, with whom you can chat (text or video) and if at any point you wish to terminate the connection, you simply ‘next’ that person to initiate another connection. There is an inherent creep factor to Chatroulette (anything that involves video chatting strangers is bound to have one) that could prove to be a dissuasive factor, but the kind of response it has garnered has been extraordinary and indicates a strong user preference for video-based interactivity on the web. From the looks of it, Chatroulette could very well hold the key to the limitless possibilities of interactive communication on the web.

4.    Yelp
– Think the yellow pages, a local search engine and a social networking site all rolled into one – that’s Yelp for you. yelpThough it is a little long in the tooth when compared with the other sites on this list (having been launched in 2004), Yelp’s true social powers were felt only post Facebook, and by that virtue, it merits a place on this list. Yelp has incorporated into it two of the hottest aspects of the web – social and location. You can search for local business, read user reviews of the same and build a network all at one place. That’s social networking with a purpose – really, what’s not to love about Yelp?

A few of these social services have already been made famous for their marketing compatibility, the others are in too nascent a stage for me to speculate on such abilities.
In the coming years, we may see them grow to give Facebook and Twitter competition, both as substantive social apps and as effective marketing platforms. What do you think? Will they lose momentum halfway through or will they succeed in sustaining the hype?

Social Media Marketing In The World Of Online Gaming

I am not a gamer, not even a casual one. To state I find it difficult to identify with those people who practically have controllers growing out of their hands would be almost redundant. I am not beguiled by Bejeweled nor have I felt an impulse to help Flo out with her Diner. Until a few months ago, gaming jargons that are now so popular on the Internet made little sense to me (now, they make a little sense because I looked them up in Wikipedia. Seriously, pwnd is not a word, it’s gibberish!). And for months now I have been stoically resisting various (separate) attempts by my friends to make a farmer out of me (No, I don’t want to be your neighbor, and I certainly don’t want to grow pumpkins!). But even I can’t deny that social games are the hottest trend on the web, and have gained enough impetus to change the social picture, and that marketers are practically chomping at the bits to capitalize on the massive marketing opportunity they present

Be it the wildly popular (and weird) games on Facebook or the social network-cum-location-based mobile gameFarmville
Foursquare, the interweb is finally alive to the as-yet-untapped promotional possibilities that social games offer. Evidently, games make social experiences ‘funner’; once accustomed to such a model, users will hardly be open to embracing a game-less one. (I can say this on authority, as I have had a similar experience with my 5-year-old niece and her broken Game Boy.) That and the fact that the social gaming market, in spite of being in its infancy, is worth a billion help me assume that this trend of social games will only grow bigger (but if that means more Farmville invitations, God help me!), and hence, I think fleshing out a marketing model based on it is, in fact, a great idea.

4squareClearly, more people are on to it. Foursquare must have foreseen this trend too, because four months ago, it launched its advertising platform, Foursquare for Businesses. And possibly taking note of the blitzkrieg growth-rate that it is enjoying, marketers are (already) lining up, hoping to cash in on it. Foursquare has already landed a deal with Bravo Media, the force behind Bravo TV – famous for its housewives and Padma Lakshmi. There are other early adopters, local businesses mostly, that are teaming up with Foursquare to promote their brand and fares. For example, when Foursquare player ‘checks-in’ at a local café that’s collaborating with Foursquare, he may end up landing some great discount deals, that are not available to the regular patrons. Read more

4 Indispensable Tips On Viral Marketing That Cannot Be Ignored

If your goal is to promote your business, whether it is online or offline, you cannot do better than to rely on viral marketing. Viral marketing, in case you were worried, doesn’t involve viruses; the term alludes to the super-fast rate at which viruses spread. Viral marketing involves relying on techniques that will help spread your (promotional) message through a ‘viral process’ and reach a web-wide audience within a short amount of time.

viralThe success of your viral marketing efforts depends on how expertly you play your social graph to use as a medium though with to push your message. However, if your message finds no takers, it can hardly go viral, which counts on people indulging in some furious sharing, and no one shares bad content. So, it would be a good idea to remember that a successful round of viral marketing needs both good content and some decent social networking skills.

Here are some handy dandy tips that you can fallback on in your hour of viral marketing need. (I love puns, can you tell?)

1. Giveaways. Everyone loves free things. Free makes everyone happy. I could delve into the exhaustive scientific studies that attest to these statements, but really, there is no need for it. The giveaway model always works, it works off the Internet, it works equally well on it too. You can offer ebooks or Internet tools, or even sample mp3s if your music is what you wish to promote, and set the ball rolling. Just ensure what you give away is not sub-standard junk that you won’t use yourself. If people like the stuff, they’ll share, talk about it and generate interest in your business. Read more