When Twitter conversations shape opinion, and customers engage with brands on Facebook to complain, you know social media has come of age. Co-founders of month-old start-up Social Samosa(.com) Ankita Gaba and Aditya Gupta and evangelist Srinivas Kulkarni, tell Sowmya Rajaram where the industry is headed this year. Here's why you should be interested: social media is expected to touch 45 million Indians this year

What was the thought behind Social Samosa?
The social media space is blazing hot right now. While consumers realised  very early that they could do a lot with it, now brands are realising this. There was a lot of good work happening by social media agencies, consultants and brands and those records were being put up on individual sites and blogs. However, not all users had easy access to it and not all brands and businesses were able to show their good work to a larger audience. With the increase in social media usage, a lot of people wanted to build careers in it. Business owners too wanted to use social media for their businesses. But most didn't know where to start.
We saw this gap and decided to bridge it. Since both the founders are from the social media industry and have been involved with a variety of social media projects, this seemed like the next logical step.

Co founders Ankita Gaba.  Pic/ Mahesh Chafe

Where does Social Samosa see itself vis-a-vis the likes of Superchooha (which Gaba founded) and Social Wavelength?

Social Wavelength and the likes have a different set of offerings. They help brands with their social media strategies and also provide execution services. Social Samosa, on the other hand, hopes to become a knowledge repository for the Indian Social Media space. We encourage all social media agencies to share their knowledge and case studies with us. The main objective of Social Samosa is to be able to provide in-depth information about the Indian Social Media space. We want to be at the forefront of this rapidly growing industry and have a hand in moulding and forming the direction.

Aditya Gupta

What will the focus of the site be?

We wish to become the 'go to' place for anything and everything to do with the Indian social media industry. We definitely publish articles on how brands are using social media and to support this, share examples of existing brands using it. The differentiating lines between digital and social media are blurring. Since we wish to cover everything related to the Indian social media industry, sharing predictions from an Industry veteran made a lot of sense. We also plan to list Indian social media jobs and events in the near future. Our focus would be to collate knowledge under one roof, enable people to hire and get hired or network with people from the same industry.

How are your contributors chosen?
Almost all of our contributors are from the social media industry. They have either worked or are working as social media strategists or consultants. We also have avid bloggers, who have been blogging long before the Aamir-Amitabh blogs became a rage in India, writing for us. They have seen the Indian social media space grow. We also have domain experts. We personally know almost all of the contributors and have seen their work before. It's a small industry and both the founders have been in this industry long enough to build a strong network. All articles, whether from pre-approved contributors or otherwise, go through an editorial approval process. Anyone can sign up and submit an article, but the editorial team has the final say.

How do you choose which brands to feature?
The brands are chosen by the contributors based on the topic of the post. If a topic is say--'5 good brands on Twitter' then brands that are really active on Twitter and doing it right are selected. And if the topic says '5 worst Facebook pages', the contributor will select accordingly. It also depends on what domain the topic is on and the contributor has the liberty to pick a topic as well.

What is the social and digital media outlook for Indian brands for 2012?
I love answering this question now. A couple of years ago my answer used to be, "Brands don't know yet what they are doing on social media. They are yet to come out of the traditional media mould." Also, back then, Facebook was the beginning and end of social media. Now I can safely say there are a lot of brands who are willing to experiment. This is the only medium so far that allows a two-way communication. Brands were not used to two-way communication that has the potential to go viral. Now many adopt a proactive approach. They are realising that marketing is not the only takeaway. Social media can also support other business functions like customer support, market research, lead generation, senior management brand building, even hiring. In 2012 many more brands will go the social media way and this time, they will also do it right.

Number crunching
> 30 million Indians who are online are on social networking sites
> 20 million of these spend time on social networking sites daily
> Nearly 40 million Indians are using online reviews to inform purchase decisions.
> 67% of Indians who use the web use online reviews to make purchases.
> Over the next six months, 45,000 online Indians intend to join social networking sites everyday
> 25% of online Indians were able to recall brands using social media.
> 60% of Indian social media users are open to being approached by brands
> Social media in India is likely to touch 45 million users in 2012.

What social media tools did brands use in 2011?
> Facebook: 92%
> Twitter: 84%
> LinkedIn: 71%
> Blogs: 68%
> Video marketing is on the rise. 77% of marketers plan to use YouTube and video marketing.
> 70% of marketers want to learn more about Facebook and 69% about blogging.

(Figures shared by The Neilsen  Company with the help of Absolutdata, and SocialMediaExaminer.com)