Social Networking Project: Indian Style
Not surprisingly, a lot of the most popular social networking sites in India are similar to those that we use in the United States; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, among others. However, the way that we use these websites versus the way that they are used in other nations shows obvious and interesting differences. Though we often use YouTube to view funny videos or watch our favorite YouTuber’s latest shenanigans, people across the world may use it for a whole different purpose.
Though it wasn’t complicated to use, Hearty Friends wasn’t incredibly inviting visually. Websites like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter tend to be extremely user-friendly and appeal to people’s need for organization, aesthetics, and easy access to website features. For example, Facebook has an expanded menu to the left of the screen when you get on the homepage. It includes your profile, shortcuts, and a section called “explore,” which allows you to easily access events, groups, pages, and more. Though it is comparable to Facebook, Hearty Friends is different in several ways. It has one master menu, which includes your inbox, sent items, trash, drafts, profile, and a couple of links called “buzz” and “my inner heart.” If you click on “buzz,” it redirects you to a page with a drop-down menu that lets you send a generic message to anyone you choose, a feature used to initiate conversation. The “My inner heart” tab lets you see your sent messages, received messages, buzz sent, and buzz received. It also allows users to link their Facebook pages. An interesting connection one could make between all social networking sites is the term “social capital.” According to Jeff Cummings and Alan R. Dennis in MIS Quarterly, social capital is “defined as those resources derived through an individual’s network of relationships (Cummings and Dennis, 2018).” This concept not only describes websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but it describes Hearty Friends as well. The more messages, friends, likes, and connections you have, the more social capital you have.
Crokes.com is a popular social networking site used in India that promotes connection with authors and allows users to keep up with each other through reading and writing. When you get to the homepage, it shows you the website’s features, including status updates, media sharing, profile updates, and messaging. A website comparable to this and more widely used in America is goodreads.com. Goodreads allows you to add books to your “wish-list” and then check them off when you’ve finished and give them reviews. You can connect with other readers, as well as post in discussions and participate in reading challenges. Though this social media site focuses on a particular demographic (readers and writers), it is in the top 25 most used sites in India according to a ranking site that allows users to upvote or downvote what they think is popular or less popular.
One social networking site that is very popular in India and the United States is Twitter. Twitter was started by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Noah Glass, and Evan Williams in 2006 and quickly became popular all around the world. By 2012, Twitter’s numbers had grown exponentially, and users were sending out more tweets than ever. Twitter is a great social media platform to view political news, pop culture updates, and other forms of entertainment. A few of its affiliates are popular too, including Vine, Periscope, and MoPub. India is in the top 10 countries active on Twitter, with 7.83 million users. Though it is mostly used for entertainment purposes, Twitter can also be utilized as a surveillance system. According to a paper published in Procedia Computer Science by Vinay Kumar Jain and Shishir Kumar, “data is collected from Twitter of 60 days started from February 1st, 2015 to March 31st, 2015. From this data we monitor the important terms use for “H1N1” or “swine flu” over time. Various outcomes are presented using content analysis of tweets along with examining the most affected states where flu spreading rapidly. Presented technique validate Twitter as a real-time content, sentiment, and public attention trend-tracking tool (Jain, Kumar, 2015).” Like most social media sites, Twitter falls into the “unsynchronized encounters” category, since users can private message each other without the recipient actually being on Twitter at the same time. Twitter’s footprint in India is obviously not just entertainment based, but also providing a way to save people’s lives.
Last but certainly not least, YouTube is a huge platform in India, with 245 million monthly users. YouTube allows users to upload videos, as well as watch videos shared by users all around the world. As mentioned in the text, the reasons we use social media usually fall into six different categories: education, habitual, romance/companionship, relaxation, escapism, and entertainment. In this case, YouTube could fit into all of these categories, and would most likely be considered unsynchronized encounters, since users can post a video on a Monday, viewers could watch it on Tuesday, comment on Wednesday, and the original poster might not see the comments until Thursday. According to YourStory.com, “YouTube India’s sharp growth has been led by highly affordable mobile internet plans, courtesy telecom disruptor Reliance Jio.” Reliance Jio is the largest 4G network in India. According to Robert Kyncl, the Chief Business Officer at YouTube, India has more than 300 channels and over a million subscribers (“YouTube monthly user base touches 225 million in India, reaches 80 pc of internet population,” 2018). An Indian YouTube channel called “T-Series” that features Indian music videos and has about 64.2 million subscribers is about to pass PewDiePie, who has 66.6 million. Unlike the majority of Western markets, India’s smartphone adoption continues to grow, and in turn allows users to access YouTube more readily (“PewDiePie will lose his crown as YouTube’s biggest star next week, thanks to India’s obsession with Bollywood,” 2018).