Why you should care

Because hours spent on social networking sites shouldn’t be time wasted.

Today’s social media giants bombard you with ads, sell your personal data and manipulate your mood. But what if you could get in on the action and take a cut? Some new sites, which have already begun offering alternatives to those jumping ship from Facebook, Twitter and Weibo, are banking on the fact that since you’re online already, you’ll want to pocket some extra cash while you’re at it.

Gaption, which is kind of like a love child of Amazon and Facebook, is a new, Malaysian-based mobile app that rewards you for sharing the next hottest commodity within your network. For example, say there’s a cute new shoe you like and you share it on your feed. If one of your followers sees the shoe and buys it, Gaption pays you 3 to 5 percent of the sale, which can then be withdrawn as cash or spent as credit on the app’s online marketplace. A built-in payment platform on its news feed accepts Stripe, PayPal or the old-fashioned credit card.

The idea is that the more users post on Gaption, the more their potential earnings increase — reaching an average of $100 to $200 every two weeks, claims Kenneth Ho, Gaption’s founder and lead product developer. The app itself is free, and Gaption take a cut of around 2 percent from each transaction. And users can still do anything that traditional social networking sites allow: upload pictures, update statuses and follow friends. A feature called “Availability” allows people to find friends who are free to hang out by pinging their location to them.

Up next: plans to expand to Australia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Of course, you’re not going to make a six-figure salary using Gaption. Mellissa Lee, an e-commerce guru and online entrepreneur in Malaysia, has tried her hand at selling merchandise through various mobile shopping apps. Her profits so far? Zilch, she says. But Lee has her doubts about Gaption as well. The secondhand market in Malaysia tends to be chock-full of low-priced items, she explains, so “incentives may not be strong there.” Which means the possibility of raking in a lot of money from hand-me-down headphones or bargain-basement handbags for 10 ringgit ($2.60) could be slim to none.

To date, Gaption has raised $150,000 from Malaysia’s pro e-commerce government and is prepping for its second round of seed funding. Up next: plans to expand to Australia, Singapore and the Philippines. Since its release in May, 22,000 users have joined, with 100 new users signing up each week. Which isn’t much compared with Facebook’s 1.4 billion users and Twitter’s 302 million. But these days, time is money. Gaption is perfecting the formula for turning those “counterproductive” hours online into cold, hard cash, notes Ho. “Ultimately, we just want people to have a good time doing what they love and be able to sustain themselves in doing it,” he adds.

But even so, if there’s a better way to spend your time online than poking your crush, Gaption just might fill the productivity gap in Malaysia and beyond.

Comment

OZYGood Sh*t

If you’d want to drink it, eat it, wear it, ride it, drive it; if it’d be cool to see, listen to or do, we’re writing about it.