Social media in emerging countries like India
India is expected to share a dais with US and China being the third largest internet user base by 2013 – Forrester Research said in a report. There are approximately 81 million internet users in India (as of November2008 which is 7 to 7.5% of Indian population). According to Facebook global report, India is ranked 20th in terms of number of Facebook users which are growing at the phenomenal rate of 200 to 300% year on year.
Apart from the global players like Facebook, Orkut and LinkedIn there are plenty on local Indian players like BharatStudents, Bigadda, Chikka, Corners, Frooper, Khichdee, kyakare, OLX, Picsquare, SlideShare, Tezaa, weRead, Zapak, ZoomIn are trying to create their niche in the online market.
Some of the typical profile types on social networking sites are –
- Beginners – New entrants who create their profile on social media sites
- Observers – profile maintenance and explorers of social networking websites.
- Readers – Information like daily news, entertainment, education, job opportunities using Feed/syndication
- Evaluators (critics) – Active users of social media websites, who not only contributes but also spread the word / buzz about happenings on the space of social media.
- Writers (blogs, websites, Twitter)
In most of the emerging countries, the main usage of social media sites are Entertainment, Education, Networking, Job opportunities, Gaming and freely expressing yourself. Good news is that Shopping has entered into this list as one of the use of social media sites recently. Users are inviting opinions from peers and professions for their buying decisions.
I know a friend of mine who expressed wish to buy an ‘ABC’ make and company hatchback car on Facebook. When I asked her why she is interested in that particular make/company car, she had no specific reason apart from that she loved the way it looks. Someone from her friend’s network sent her link from critic’s website, information on how to buy your first car? Etc. Well needless to say she bought a car from different make/company of completely different looks, and by the way she had strong opinion on why this is the best car for her! Isn’t it impressive to see that social media has began to play important role in influencing such high value decisions.
One of the biggest concern people have about social networking sites is ‘Privacy’. My personal information (email and date of birth) along with entire listing of friend/social network get displayed on public domain. The problem is most users (Beginners and Observers) registers on the websites and disappear may be after few visits. Apart from basic password protection, no social media sites protect to guarantee any information shared on the sites. Just like you have ‘buyer beware’ in consumer marketplace, in social media space you have ‘user beware’, aware of what personal information you are sharing and with whom, till the time you have ‘privacy’ guidelines and regulations getting in place.