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8/4/2009 2:44:00 PM
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Make Money On Social Networks In China

China's Alibaba Group has started mixing social-networking functions into its leading e-commerce platforms, a move it hopes will convince users to spend more time and money on Alibaba Web sites. Alibaba is crafting social-networking platforms specifically to complement two of its core operations. The beta version of a Web site with Facebook-style applications and a Twitter-style feed is being grafted onto Taobao.com
 
E-commerce, already huge, is ascending rapidly in China. Online shopping transactions were worth 46.7 billion yuan (US$6.8 billion) in China in the first quarter, nearly twice as much as a year earlier, according to iResearch, a Chinese Internet consultancy. Over three-quarters of that transaction value occurred among consumers on Taobao, according to the iResearch statistics.
 
Taobao's dominance gives its social-networking platform a sizable user base to draw on. All Taobao users can also access the platform, which has some user activity but that Taobao says it has not begun promoting yet. Taobao reported 120 million registered users at the end of the first quarter, more than one-third of China's total number of people online. Nearly two-thirds of China's Internet users are under 30 years old, according to the country's domain registry agency. Future additions to Taobao's social-networking platform could include ads in applications and links to suggested items in merchant stores, said Mi of Taobao. The site could also aim to attract new users from outside Taobao by offering unrelated services, such as online reservations for movie tickets or karaoke sessions, Mi said. Those users might then migrate to Taobao itself, he said.