With Over 17 Million Users, Is Rocketalk India’s Answer to Facebook on Mobile?
In Association with Digital Empowerment Foundation's Manthan Award
Shafiq Khan wanted to be an RJ but couldn’t become one. He also loves poetry so he started a group on Rocketalk combining his love for poetry and RJing. Being a voice based mobile social network, Rocketalk allows members in this group to recite poetry to other members in different parts of the world. Now, Shafiq covers poetry summits from his end of the world and shares them as videos for others to see while others do the same from their end of the world.
Karan Pawa is an automobile dealer in Delhi and a member of Rocketalk. Karistani with Karan is another group by Karan that helps people find information about insurance, advice etc on automobile. Just like groups started by Shafiq and Karan, 1,50,000 groups in all have been started on Rocketalk. Each group is like a radio station in itself and every member of the group is an RJ.
While Facebook is still struggling to find its way to its users through mobile phones, Rocketalk has already added over 17million registered users (9 million active users) and claims to be India’s largest mobile social network. It initially started as a peer to peer voice messaging system. “People realized that the application converted the phone into a walkie-talkie. They wanted to search for other people then they wanted a profile where they could add pictures and videos and finally be able to add friends. So we then created the media gallery, not just for you to share stuff with friends, but also with the outside world as well,” shares Sameer Agarwal, Founder, RocketalkOnce you download the app, you can use Rocketalk to communicate with and tag friends, family, use it as a shopping advisor etc just like any other social network. You can also press a button and record your voice to connect with people. You know more about your peers this way because you hear their voices here.
Rocketalk’s biggest challenge has been in creating a service which is technology agnostic. Users should be able to send a voice message from one kind of phone to another without having compatibility issues.
What makes them different from Facebook?
The voice presence gives no room for fake profiles and a man cannot really pose as a woman. Woman will be women and men will be men, assures Sameer. Apart from their voice presence, it is their brand engagement and marketing model that really differentiates them from Facebook.“We have started generating revenue only this year from premiere ad agencies for big brands like Nokia, Samsung, Google, Youtube etc. We are mastering new way of monetizing mobile inventory through brand engagement. Typically all mobile players work with lot of ad networks for banner ads. But we do deep engagement programs, not banner ads,” explains Sameer.
This year, Nokia in association with Rocketalk launched a Nokia Mobile Antakshari, first ever reality show on mobile phones. More than 3,50,000 people played antakshari against each other in real time from different parts of the country.
Every user profile has an audio profile called Profile Ring Back Tone (PRBT). Users take brand jingles and make them their audio profile. People who visit their profile will also hear the brand jingle making it a social recommendation. Their mobile advertising campaign that began only in January this year have already won them 4 International Awards from Mobile Marketing Association for their deep engagement with users.
“We believe we are an Indian company teaching the world on how mobile should be monetized in the right manner. We are doing it far ahead of others. We keep tracking user interest and based on that we show you engagement content. That’s why our audience is receptive to it. We are taking the ad and making it as content to the user,” says Sameer sharing the secret of their success so far.
In the next two years, Rocketalk is looking to have at least 50 million users apart changing the way people see mobile advertising and social network on mobile. They are soon to launch officially in other countries as well. It will indeed be a proud moment for India if Rocketalk becomes what it claims to be – the answer to social network on mobile.
Digital Empowerment Foundation is Social Inclusion Partner of YourStory.in. Manthan Award is instituted by DEF and 2012 is its 9th year. You can access thousands of digital innovations and their stories at http://manthanaward.org