How Can Brands Leverage Social Networking In India? – Answered By Social Networks BigAdda, Minglebox & Fropper

Recently Tyroo media came out with a report (download report here) in which it stated that branding/virals/communities can be the way Social Networks can be leveraged by Advertisers and even social networks can make some money. Now for branding to happen its important that both brands and social networks come forward. This post attempts at putting forth the social networks point of view on “How Brands Can Leverage Social Networking in India”



We spoke to:


mingleboxKavita Iyer – Founder – An IIM Ahmedabad alumni and the Founder & CEO of Minglebox was the first standalone social network to be funded. It raised 7 Million $ from Sequoia Capital.




bigaddaSiddhartha Roy – COO – Before taking the mantle of COO at BigAdda Siddhartha was the Associate Director – Digital media at MTV Networks India. Bigadda is backed by the Reliance ADA group which has offlate roped in Mr.Amitabh Bachchan to host his blog on Bigadda



fropperNavin Mittal – Business Head – He conceptualised fropper way back in 2003. Fropper is a part of the People Interactive Group which has a flagship portal in People Interactive was funded by the then Westbridge Capital Partners for 8 million Dollars which was later acquired by Sequioa Capital.


We asked them:

1) A recent report (by tyroo media) states that social networks are better for Branding that ROI based advertising. Do you agree? and Why?
2) Given the above answers, What are the various branding/roi driven advertising opportunities available on your social network?
3) Compared to networks like orkut and facebook which are international but have a large indian userbase how is your network positioned for advertisers? What kind of brands advertisers should look at you?
4) By when do you see social networking as a business to become profitable?



 Here are their answers:

1) A recent report (by tyroo media) states that social networks are better for Branding that ROI based advertising. Do you agree? and Why?




Kavita (Minglebox) – Yes, so far it seems like this is more likely particularly for generic social networks which primarily revolve around communication between people. However given the time spent by users, the level of daily engagement and the need for self expression fulfilled by social networking sites, brands could fit in nicely and create subtle or more interactive touch points with users.




Siddhartha (BigAdda) - We agree that branding opportunities on a platform such as ours gives a greater leverage to brands. Creation of communities, branding of addas are effective in giving that extra mileage to a brand. For instance, a lifestyle brand may run a banner plus have a discussion forum on a branded adda… this doubles up as a brand building exercise for the product at large. Having said that, if advertising gets served in a far pro-active way, the ROI is eventually delivered. Also, with the availability of pre-rolls on video and photo advertising provides brands a much larger scope of being viewed by the end consumers.




Navin (Fropper) – Social networks are based on the Web 2.0 concept, which empowers the user to create, and access content that he/she is interested in; by the same virtue, social networks also provide a rich playing field for advertisers who want to target niche audiences. Ads displayed on social networks are woven around networking features, such as blogs, groups, scraps, photos & videos, which provide advertisers with perfect tools to experiment with viral marketing and brand led initiatives. There is a natural connect between the advertiser and the audience on such sites, which allows a greater user engagement and more personality led ad targeting. Compared to other sources of media, Internet is one of the best sources to advertise on today. The cost per contact here is lesser than any other medium, which makes it much more affordable for the advertiser.




2) Given the above answers, What are the various branding/roi driven advertising opportunities available on your social network?




Kavita (Minglebox) - We’re in the process of building this out based on feedback from brands and research with users. We’re focusing more on brand driven opportunities.




Siddhartha (BigAdda) – Among the opportunities available, brands can choose between Banners, Branded Addas, Branded Contests and pre-rolls on videos and photos.




Navin (Fropper) – At, we have designed an innovative marketing tool called Ad Zones, which is a completely customizable advertising tool for marketers without being intrusive for fropper users.


Ad zone comes packaged with entire set of fropper features for marketers, such as:


–‘Ad zone’ Groups –can be used to create community around brand and form discussion groups or arrange offline events.
–‘Ad zone’ Photos, Videos & Music– can be used to entertain users by displaying video ads and providing brand/product related wallpapers.
–‘Ad zone’ Blogs, Scraps, Messaging-can be used to initiate informal conversation with users, get their feedback and build brand credibility.
-‘Ad zone’ contests-around concept that connects with the brand and can be used to pull fropper users to the Ad Zone.


Each of the above is a strong advertising tool to engage and interact with more than 3.5mn fropper users.




3) Compared to networks like orkut and facebook which are international but have a large indian userbase how is your network positioned for advertisers? What kind of brands advertisers should look at you?




Kavita (Minglebox) – We’re attractive to advertisers targeting Indian youth in the 18-25 age group. Our unique proposition is campus communities, so brands with a positioning for this segment will find several interesting ways of building a relationship in the context of college communities. Every college has a unique space inside Minglebox which they use in their own way – so brands can individually target any of the 2000 active college communities with specific messages for that community. Employers and work places are also keen to reach out to students and young alumni through these communities.




Siddhartha (BigAdda) – BigAdda is a cultural requirement for the Indian Youth – and acknowledges the Indian youth’s asynchronous messaging and connectivity needs. It is becoming the centre of their social graph. And although we are in the very early stages of this phenomenon, it will take off with the evolution of broadband.


BigAdda has been created for the Indian youth, blending Indian sensibilities with emerging trends. It’s their Hang-In. It’s a youth culture – A youth channel in attitude tapping into a Global Youth Culture which is in a Generational shift.


o Evolve a youth community – inclusive and aspirational- without mashing cultures.
o Celebrate youth and set them free – Self-expression is a key need of their lives


In Essence has both individuals who form their nodes and network by taking their physical relations online and individuals connecting with each other on similar interests.


The basic difference between BigAdda and others is:


1. It’s Indian – there’s no mashing of cultures.
2. It has both social network and media (interest)
3. Media is to enable interest based network rather than being a platform by itself as incase of other Indian sites
4. Would focus at connecting the youth any time – any place and any device
5. Youth does not love technology itself but what it enables them to do – this would be our guiding thought going forward in connecting them.

For Detailed Statistics on BigAdda Users and Usage Patterns one can Click Here


Navin (Fropper)
- We are India’s oldest social networking site, having pioneered the concept in 2003. We understand the Indian audience and their sensibilities and hence our features and applications are all attune to what they want. Yes there have been many players who have entered the market in recent years, but’s USP would be that we have content and applications which are relevant and compelling to an average Indian youngster. Any brand which is looking to connect with an upwardly mobile, go-getting youth should look at advertising with us; we already have the likes of Airtel, Nokia, Colgate, Dell, Amity University, Pepsi, and Idea advertising with us.




4) By when do you see social networking as a business to become profitable?



Kavita (Minglebox) – In the next 2-3 years, this question will find a definitive answer.



Siddhartha (BigAdda) - Social networking in India is still in its nascent stage and the growth of the same is largely dependant on the penetration of broadband across all markets in the country. The trend is catching up and will soon grow bigger with the site going mobile. Its not possible to set a date to the establishment of a profit margin in the business, but yes the future is bright.



Navin (Fropper) – Social networking is a continuously evolving space, and a fairly nascent industry not only in India, but also across the world; innovations in revenue streams will happen simultaneously hence it would be too early to comment on sustainability/ profitability. Globally social networks are working with various permutations, combinations to arrive at a foolproof business model and in the years to come we will see a lot of fruitful changes in this sector.


WATBlog Analysis: Its interesting to see how all three social networks have a distinct way of looking at the market and approach as well.

Minglebox is targetting the college kids with college groups and building a connect with users through their alma mater.  What may go against them is not everyone is fond of their college in India. I mean lets say I am from a B grade college and all teh girls are in A grade then this model kind of outcasts me! But what they can do is connect College fests and events and have a more editorial approach and give each college its online journal. Maybe that could work if they have an offline publication for each college as well published by college students themselves. Tough to execute but very powerful if done well. Then your advertising and branding options increase immensely!


BigAdda on the other end is bullish on media and youth’s interest in media be it text (Bachchan’s Blog), audio or video. Given Reliance ADA’s backing and having an Inhouse film production company in Adlabs films content is the least of their concerns.  What their concern should be is ROI. Given that they have spent possibly more money than any other social network they would really need to look at building some solid engagement within their portal and find premium ways to monetize them. I see entertainment and media brands being big markets for Bigadda if its statistics of media consumption are anything to go by.


Fropper – Fropper had associated itself with a few social awareness driven activities. All said and done this is a great way to jump the line and create loyalty among the youth which is evolved today about all sorts of issues right from environment to AIDS to pollution to domestic violence to poverty etc. Infact the teach india campaign started by TOI group that could fit perfectly with fropper. Also Social Networking for Social Change can be quite a powerful niche as it will pull in the girls as well and gives a totally different dimension/reason to network and power to an ageing social network.


What do you this? How else can brands leverage social networks in India? Any Brand guru’s out there we would love to interview you and know your thoughts! 

6 Responses to “How Can Brands Leverage Social Networking In India? – Answered By Social Networks BigAdda, Minglebox & Fropper”

  1. July 16, 2008 at 3:32 pm #

    the other thing you should possibly consider in this analysis are examples of platforms which allow brands to create their own networks.. (eg. youtopia) do you think it will work?
    also will there be a clear demarcation (as far as brands go) between social networking and social media in general (a you tube, for example)
    and these, i guess would happen in part 2…
    brands like fastrack which use orkut, facebook, twitter etc extensively and well….
    and apps – eg. Inda dekha by Zoomtra

  2. July 16, 2008 at 4:21 pm #

    agreed. But brands leveraging existing social networks and brands creating their own social network are two different things and require different commitment from brands.

  3. startup
    July 17, 2008 at 1:01 am #

    Good to see that atleast now some blogger is recognizing the existence of India social networking portal.All the while every blogger has been talking about orkut ,my space and face book ignoring the fact that they are all more than 5 yrs old and comparing them with Indian social nets which are at the most 2 yrs old.

    one more important thing i wish to make it a point is that the blogger should stop talking about heard mentality in Indian start ups and start recongizing that each start up has its own flavor.

    pls note that even USA has numerous social nets

    and indian enterprenuers are no exception in looking out for some opportunities.So i hope no blogger will ever talk about Indian startups in such a way agin

  4. July 17, 2008 at 6:24 am #

    You forgot to include RockeTalk ( RockeTalk has created the bet social communicator platform, and is the only product that enables users to chat using their own voice, video, and photo.

  5. July 17, 2008 at 5:40 pm #

    No doubt that social networking sites would become an important business tool for brand awareness. In the Indian context it would have limited appeal, in the near future, since the target audience is restricted by age and buying power. But the same audience would constitute a large market place in the medium to long term perspective. We would like to link this article as a resource for our readers at

  6. Well I don’t claim to be a brand guru but I think there are couple more ways by which brands can leverage social networking.

    1) For brand buzz: What has been covered in the post is leveraging social networks to position the brands and target the customers effectively. Besides these, networks could also be used to create brand buzz by intersection of social networks and viral marketing.

    2) Co-creation of Value: Brands could actually go a step ahead and engage customers to co-create the value bye leveraging social media. For example, many US companies are using Twitter to do the same. FastTrack company is also using it. Co-creation of value gives brand strong pillars to stand.

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