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Incentivize social networking

Ashish Goel
Monday, January 5, 2009
Ashish Goel
I am often consumed by the thought as to how online social networks in emerging economies like India can be optimized. I believe that in order to do so, one must consider various socio-economic aspects. Social networks trying to get more users on board must provide them with incentives to behave in a manner that it wants. I call this the human-network interaction as opposed to human-machine interaction. I believe that the algorithm on top of a system will decide how people use a social network.

If we take the case of India, inter-generational interaction is much more than in the U.S. In accordance, social networks seeking to make headway here must account for that aspect and factor it in their strategy.

Unfortunately, little research has been done in India on various societal and consumer behaviors that drive internet usage. This has to do with the fact that credit card usage and e-commerce using credit cards is still very small in the country. I assume that once this rises and there is money to be made, research in the area will also increase.

Indian companies must focus on not just enabling broadband connectivity, but building social network technology. It's no use having pipes to your home when there is nothing to drive usage through them.

Going ahead, it will be interesting to see hoe SMS-based social networking turns out in India. It is still at a very early stage, and could be drastically different from online social networks.
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