Indian Social Media Agencies in Early 2008
Last year, I had created the first list of social media agencies in India, which included –
- Digital Advertising Agencies like Webchutney, Quasar Media/ Quasar Talk and Phonethics offering social media marketing services with a focus on virals, social network apps, social media campaigns etc.
- Public Relations Practitioners like Rajesh Lalwani’s Blogworks offering social media services with a focus on online reputation monitoring and social media outreach etc.
Indian Social Media Agencies in Mid 2009
A year later, I can see at least six type of companies offering social media services in India –
1. Independent Social Media Agencies offer social media monitoring, social media outreach, and community manager services. Blogworks and WATConsult are the most visible example, but other examples include Windchimes, Social Wavelength, Bloggers’ Mind, Sulmoz, Zapylacz, Mercury Communication, Ripple Links and Electrosocial.
2. Advertising Agencies Offering Social Media Services run social media campaigns, using viral videos and Facebook/ OpenSocial applications, to supplement display and search advertising campaigns, typically to promote brand microsites. Webchutney/ Drizzlin, Quasar Media/ Quasar Talk, Pinstorm, BCWebwise, Interactive Avenues, Ignitee, Media2Win, and Phonethics are good examples of this category. Other examples include Infovedics, Blueliner, ID8Labs, New Media Guru, Foxymoron, Smursh, iConcept, Experience Commerce, D’zine Garage and iStrat. Apart from these digital advertising agencies, almost all traditional advertising agencies typically create micro-sites or run ads on social networking websites, as part of an integrated advertising campaign.
3. Public Relations Agencies Offering Social Media Services typically offer online reputation management and word of mouth marketing services, to complement their offline offerings. Leaders 20:20 Media, Fleishman Hillard, Genesis Burson-Marsteller (via Puretech Internet), Hanmer MSL, Ogilvy PR, Text100 and Weber Shandwick and even smaller players like Renaissance PR now offer well-developed social media offerings. I am surprised that Edelman isn’t promoting its social media services in India yet.
4. Social Media Research and Analytics Companies focus on monitoring social media conversations using human and machine analysis. These companies include Informm, LogicBowl, Fractal Analytics, Empower Research and Germinait. I don’t think that Nielsen Buzzmetrics, TNS Cymfony or JD Power Web Intelligence are offering their social media analytics services in India yet.
5. Bloggers-Turned-Consultants typically offer corporate blogging and social media consulting services, and conduct social media workshops. Kiruba Shankar and Dina Mehta are the most prominent examples in this category, but other include Moksh Juneja and Vijay Rayapati.
6. Search Engine Optimization Companies are beginning to offer social media optimization services. Examples of such companies include Search Engine Factors, Development India, Empowered SEO, Innovate, iSMO, BrainPulse, IT Chimes, BrainWork, WildNet Technologies, Mosaic ITES Services, SEO Outsourcing India, Kneoteric, Semaphore, Magnon Solutions and dozens of others, each indistinguishable from the others.
I said last year that “it seems that, by the end of 2008, we’ll have 25-30 serious social media players in the Indian market.” Like a lot of my social media predictions, this one has also come true, even if we exclude the SEO/ SEM/ SMM companies.
A Call for Collaboration
I think that this space will continue to attract both new startups and established advertising and public relations companies. By the end of 2009, I expect the number of categories to go up from 6 to 8-10 and the number of players to go up from 35 to 50-60.
Some of my friends who run these agencies are worried that the social media space in India has already become too cluttered. As the co-founder of a new specialized social media company, I see this frantic activity as an opportunity.
On one hand, most traditional advertising and public relations agencies won’t be able to build serious competencies in the social media space, unless they start independent social media agencies. The people in these companies who understand social media will be tempted to strike out on their own and start specialized social media agencies.
On the other hand, many specialized social media agencies won’t survive the year. Most companies that survive won’t be able to scale beyond the small founding team working out of a home office. Some of us, hopefully, will both survive, and scale, and profitably.
The entrepreneurial activity in this space is extremely encouraging because the same people who will fail at running their small companies will build strong personal brands in the process and succeed at senior roles at the companies that emerge as leaders in this space.
So, there’s value in our seeing each other as potential collaborators, instead of competitors, and working together to evangelize social media to Indian brands. The market opportunity here is huge and we haven’t even scraped the surface yet.