Indian Social Network SMS GupShup Wants To Help Small Businesses Reach Mobile Users

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SMS GupShup, a Twitter-like service in India that is primarily accessed via SMS, is launching a new service today for small businesses, BizShup. The new product allows small businesses to create mobile campaigns and send messages to the network’s 45 million members on the fly.

Launched in April 2007, SMS GupShup (spawned from Webaroo), seen traction from advertisers and brands looking to connect with Indian consumers. Businesses can target users based on location and community. Advertisers on the platform include Pepsi, eBay, ICICI Lombard, Microsoft, Cadbury, Vodafone, Nokia, Ford, Puma, Maybelline, Dell, Kingfisher, Sun Microsystems and ING Financial.

Bizshup is aimed at small businesses who hope to advertise to the network’s users. The business tool provides a group messaging platform for businesses that allows them to form groups, send messages, create ads, and track analytics. And businesses can create an SMS campaign, at scale, on the fly, from a mobile device.

For example, business owners can use a ‘Keywords’ feature to attract new customers; the first step is to define a keyword and associate a phone code to it – for example, “To get cool discounts SMS PIZZA to 9220092200.” Users who send PIZZA to 9220092200 will automatically be added to this business’ customer list. Business owners can distribute coupons that can be redeemed at the point-of-sale location. Previously in beta, BizShup has already run hundreds of campaigns to test the service.

As we’ve written in the past, it’s unclear SMS GupShup will fare as Facebook and Twitter continue to grow in the country. As more consumers have access to the internet (in addition to mobile phones), they will certainly flock to these networks. But SMS GupShup certainly has done a fairly good job of implementing advertising in the SMS-based social network, and thanks to these revenues, revenue grew by over 400% in 2010.