January 23, 2012

Indians bored of social networking? Also of blogging??

ASSOCHAM has come out with a social media survey [link remove by Assocham later on]. One main inference of the survey, as given on their website, is that, “Youngsters have started finding social media boring, confusing, frustrating and time-consuming and they surf these sites less frequently.”

They claim to have interacted with 2,000 young people in the age group of 12 to 25 years in major Indian cities. Over half of the respondents said, they had “consciously reduced the time spent on social media websites…” A third had deactivated or deleted their accounts and profiles from these websites and “it is no longer a craze among them”.  Rest said, they had started maintaining a low profile on social networks. Three-fourths of respondents had “opened their profiles on almost each of these websites which was a fad among them when these websites were just launched. But… they barely use them anymore and prefer sticking to a singular site.”

About a fifth of the respondents hardly logged on to the social networking sites and preferred staying in touch with their folks via other means.

Let’s assume that ASSOCHAM’s data collection and analysis was flawless. But we beg to differ on the inference.

One. What the responses have shown only validates the findings of many international and localized surveys: that people keep experimenting with new platforms as they develop; that people tend to get bored of their experimentation with a particular web engagement; that new platforms get huge initial following. The Indian Top Blogs survey of blogging habits based on factual examination of blogs also proves that. What we found in the case of blogs relating to slowing interest over time will, sure, apply more to the social network sites because of many factors. 

Two. Take a boy of the age 15. He [or she] experiments with various platforms – the social networking sites, blogging, mobile chat and phone calls, web-chat, forums, and so on – to be in touch with his community and to expand it. As he cannot cope with all, his interest in many of these platforms goes down but he retains the ones that he finds the most interesting and useful. This has been happening for ages and will continue to happen. Does that mean that the youth are getting frustrated with social networking sites?

Three. Take the entire youth population. While a boy of 18 goes to college and his community habits undergo a huge shift, another one takes his place. The new boy is even more experimental than his predecessor. So, in this dynamic situation, new boys and girls carry the activities that have been partially left by their seniors. That’s why, with every passing year, the number of people embracing social media is only growing.

Four. New platforms for web and mobile based interaction keep getting evolved, some incremental and some revolutionary. At one time, Indian youth was a fan of Orkut, and suddenly it lapped up Facebook much more than Orkut. Twitter and Google+ came with different promises, so people [mostly youth] started experimenting with them. When a new platform comes tomorrow, people will throng to it. This flux will only grow as technology turnover gets faster.

Five. People use web for different purposes. The social media universe does not only include social networking sites, it also has Flickr and Picasaweb, Youtube, social bookmarkers such as StumbleUpon, Digg and Pinterest, and so on. There are also social networking sites such as Linkedin  and close forums that help in professional networking. In addition, there is this stable and serious platform of blogs. And they all are getting more and more integrated. So, if people shun some networking for experimentation sake, they would use new more of it for getting entertainment and information.

What ASSOCHAM’s study finds is just the obvious but makes a juicy, misleading, inference out of it. Just to be in the news?