PagalGuy.com, among India’s oldest MBA education guidance portals, is relaunching its website incorporating social networking features to its platform. Apurv Pandit, Editor of PagalGuy, elaborated on the next generation version of the website in his recent blog post. He stated that it was not just a redesign and the new iteration would re-imagine the online community, altogether.  According to the numbers shared by Pandit, the Pagalguy forum has 589,599 registered users who have made 3,521,484 posts (till 29th June 2012).

Borrowing from other social networks: Interestingly PagalGuy has borrowed some features from both Twitter and Facebook to make the site more social. It would now allow users to ‘follow’ other users in addition to discussion threads, and a Live Feed featuring updates and responses to threads or new postings by users that the individual follows. It will also feature status updates that can be ‘pinged’ to followers, who can ‘like’, share or ‘comment’ on them. Similar to other social destinations, the users’s home page will now display the live feed and a notification panel.

‘Groans’ and ‘Thanks’, which were used to criticize or acknowledge a posting or user has been replaced by ‘likes’. Users can also ‘mention’ other users by using the @ symbol before their user name in a post, and the user is also notified about the mention via e-mail. While the site offers MBA forums, news and B-school rankings in a tabbed interface, the forums have also been revamped, making the first post sticky across all thread discussion pages. Users have profile pages complete with an ‘about me’ bio and signature, followed by their activity feed, allowing other users to keep track of the discussion threads, articles and fellow user Pings the particular user is commenting in. It would even offer ‘Recommended to follow’ suggestions to users. Pandit mentioned that the site would offer sharing at all levels including news articles, individual posts, pings and even comments.


     

Getting coaching centres & B-schools on board: Drifting from its existing guidelines, the site will also allow test prep companies, and coaching institutions to create official user accounts and ping information and link to study material. Users can unfollow the particular account if they feel that it’s spamming. The site will also allow B-Schools to create accounts and ping updates about admission schedules, application deadlines, interesting activities on their campus or festivals and events. While this will benefit B-school aspirants from the awareness perspective, we feel that it also offers some scope for monetization. Just like Facebook, the site could introduce ads connected with premium accounts offered to institutes.

Our Take: We feel that if incorporating features offered by other social networks, enhances usability and encourages interaction, and adds more value to the community, it’s not a bad thing. Since PagalGuy has a dedicated user base, and focuses on a niche community of B-school aspirants, it could turn out to be a social network with a targeted user base instead of being a clone. This is also one reason why we feel that although sites like Facebook have similar communities/groups, the site is still relevant.  However, we do feel that it might lead to the addition of an element of distraction. The new version has not been extended to all members, yet.