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Social media goes 'lite' in emerging markets

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LinkedIn Lite would do well in South Africa where unemployment is rife.
LinkedIn Lite would do well in South Africa where unemployment is rife.

Social media companies that are looking to scale should consider releasing a less data-intensive version of their platform for emerging markets.

The latest network to do so is LinkedIn, which released a 'lite' app in India this week. The professional social platform's release follows similar moves by Facebook and Twitter.

The company says the version was aimed at helping users browse its Web site faster on their smartphones in areas with slow or poor Internet connectivity.

Reuters reported LinkedIn has more than 37 million users in India, making the country its second biggest market.

World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck says: "The cost of data and the quality of access remains big obstacles to an effective digital embrace in emerging markets.

"This makes lite versions of the most popular apps not only a good idea but essential if they want to grow their numbers and increase usage."

Goldstuck says LinkedIn specifically is already heavily used in markets such as India, Nigeria and South Africa. "It is almost more useful in emerging markets, than western markets, because of the lack of formal structures for networking for professionals."

He said it would be a good idea if LinkedIn Lite came to South Africa because the same benefits would apply.

"There is a massive emerging market that faces the same issues with regards to cost and quality of data in SA.

"Moreover, we have a huge joblessness issue and among other things that LinkedIn does, is assist in job-seeking and recruitment."

He says this trend may continue with other major apps releasing lite versions, but only companies that intend to scale, otherwise there would be no point.

Microsoft agreed to buy LinkedIn in June for $26.2 billion.

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