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28 Dec 2007, 11:59PM PT
4 Dec 2007, 12:00AM PT
Closed: 28 Dec 2007, 11:59PM PT
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What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by Steve Litchfield
Saturday, December 8th, 2007 @ 7:37AM
The biggest restrictions in getting involved with social networking on a mobile are (in order, and looking at what you can do):
1) text input speed - you can't do much about this as a development team, apart from to ensure that cookies are handled properly so that the user never has to enter the same login form details on any given device twice (unless they manually log out).
2) screen size - design for QVGA (anything smaller is an anachronism and anything larger is out of the ordinary) and be very aware of download and image rendering speeds - see also 3) below.
3) bandwidth and cost
ii) on the upload side, for similar reasons, do what you can to speed up user image and video uploloads. For example, resample all images to VGA or smaller, as far too many new users start out into Web 2.0 and get frustrated when their very first image upload from their Nokia N95 takes forever. If you do resample images, videos or sound samples, then make this a setting that advanced users can override, if necessary!
The single biggest obstacle to any new network is its own size - if it's too small then it won't gain traction in any reasonable timeframe. Like IM chat clients which have evolved to support multiple standards, you'll have infinitely more success if you build a useable and sensibly-implemented mobile client around multiple APIs into existing networks. The likes of Facebook, Bebo, etc. are too huge to ignore. Best to work with them, do the 'mobile bit' better than they can and then get the word out!
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by Devin Moore
Tuesday, December 11th, 2007 @ 8:12AM
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by Ryan Lanham
Thursday, December 13th, 2007 @ 7:30AM
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by Robert May
Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 @ 5:53AM
Adoption of any social network stems from one of two things: personal usefulness or personal expression. Adoption of any new technology also stems from two things: ease of use, low barrier to growing the network. Taking these four issues into account can help you design the right system. Here are the questions you need to ask...
First let us look at the personal expression model. Myspace and Facebook have been successful because they have allowed users to personalize their "space." How can a mobile social network either allow people to personalize their phone or personalize their physical space? The geotargeting capabilities mean that users could interact with their environment in unique ways, through their phone. For instance, allowing users to tag places or leave messages for themselves or their friends, similar to what www.socialight.com does, could be useful. Using the service to express things about themselves to others nearby will also be attractive. Users can show their likes, interests, relationship status, etc. and other users can connect automatically if there is an interesting match.
The other model to consider is the personal usefulness model of del.icio.us. The site has value to me as a personal bookmarking site even if no one else ever uses it. If others do use it and share their bookmarks, the value of the network of users increases. A mobile social network must provide value even if there is only one user, and then provide more value if there are more users. If all the value is only present once the network reaches some critical mass, then you may struggle to reach that mass.
With respect to the ease of adoption of the mobile social network, it has to be intuitive. If people are required to go online and download software, it won't work. It has to be preprogrammed on their phones, or available via download over the cellphone networks. It must require minimum user input to customize, and should probably function much like a text messaging system, since users are familiar with that. Will users log on to a website to customize it? Perhaps, as that is a model they are familiar with too. But that could break the immediacy connection that could encourage them to use the service because they need it now.
Now to the biggest questions you have to answer. Why will the network grow? Why will I invite my friends? What is in it for me? How do I benefit in a tangible way? I don't want points or something cheesy like that. I want to invite my friends because it makes my use of the service better. How difficult is it to invite friends? Can I just enter their phone numbers? If I join the social network, can I interact in some capacity with people who aren't in the network? Providing an open level of service plus an advanced level of service will encourage people to sign up as members to embrace the more advanced functionality.
The primary use I see in a mobile social network is the serendipitous value of discovering either:
a) new places that my friends have been - for instance, I drive by a coffee shop and am told that Bob recommends it
b) new people that share my interests - for instance, I'm at a conference, the mall, a basketball game, etc and my phone tells me that someone else there is looking to hire an accountant, while I am looking for an accounting job. Do we want to connect? Or alternatively, someone is single and interested in Yoga, and I am in the same situation.
To summarize, if I were designing a mobile social network, I would prioritize things like this: serendipitous discovery of non-network dependent stuff (things that don't depend on the size of the network - this is the personal value) , ease of use, discovery of network dependent stuff, ease of spreading/growing/inviting others to the network, personal expression.
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by Zack Miller
Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 @ 3:17PM
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by meow
Wednesday, December 26th, 2007 @ 7:25PM
Please find below, in extreme brevity, a few points I would like to emphasize.
I hope this will help your endeavours.
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by Johan Hjelm
Thursday, December 27th, 2007 @ 5:22AM
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by Eric Leebow
Friday, December 28th, 2007 @ 7:38AM
Focus on FreezeCrowd! That's the secret. If you're interested in contacting me, please let me know. We'll be known for connecting people in crowds, any sort of crowd, and mobile is where we're headed. Imagine getting a crowd of people together and connecting in the crowd by simply putting a FreezeCrowd button on your mobile, as soon as you press it, everyone in the crowd gets identified, you "freeze" everyone in the crowd at that moment, and you reconnect with the people you met in a real life crowd online. Why spend time building on top of an existing network, when by the time you build on top of these networks, the next best site will be launched and people will be connecting in crowds? Please email me, contact me, and we can save you a lot of time and headaches. Plus, we have protected ourselves on this concept. We have working prototypes, and are open hearing more.
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by Tom Gordon
Friday, December 28th, 2007 @ 3:39PM
Having recently developed a mobile social networking service (www.pitch.mobi/my.pitch.mobi), I have some opinions on what I think makes a good mobile social network, or rather the approach to creating a good mobile social network. The one key factor I think is that the whole underlying design - from database design to infrastructure to site structure to per-page design - needs to be approached with the mobile device in mind, and should not be driven by what features or technologies can be developed for use on the web, or using a particular application framework.
Also, since mobile networks are typically very slow at data delivery, this awareness of designing for the mobile platform should underly everything that you do. With all you can eat data packages still being the exception in most of the world, anything that is image-heavy (i.e. data-heavy) will cost potential users (in raw monetary terms) more than something that is data-light (such as a text-only site), so an image-heavy site runs the risk of alienating potential customers purely from a cost perspective.
The service I designed and built (note: I stopped working for them about 9 months ago) has pretty much everything you could ask for in a social network, except anything location-based (for economic reasons - location based services in the UK are frighteningly expensive, although we did include searches of the user population that took into account postcodes, so we had semi-location-based search.) It has the usual suspects: generic text chat (works out 6 times cheaper than SMS for the same number of messages), group chat, private messaging (to 1 person or all your friends), image upload (including animated GIFs), image galleries, image comments, mobblogging, 'text walls', friends, groups, personal avatars, personalisation (WAP site personalisation, including "skins"), video upload/download (mobile to web and web to mobile, all formats except WMV - licensing issues and all that) and works across any GPRS connection and on any WAP1.0 compatible device.
Which leads on to another point: I am entirely against java-application-only-based social networking services. As soon as you start basing your service design on what you can do with a java application you start to lose potential customers (thos with handsets you don't support), and you make the user acquisition process more difficult and the initial user experience much worse, as the first thing you have to do is convince someone to download your application, with all the concommitant problems that brings.
(In my view, once you base your design on a java application, you start running into issues with data transfer speeds, data charges, security settings on the phone and everything else that comes with a java application. To qualify my earlier anti statement a little, I don't see a reason not to have a java access application for your mobile social network, I think the problem is if this is the *only* way of accessing the service. At that point, it's not really a mobile social network, it's a java-application based social network. And on that note, once you have the underlying structures of your mobile social network in place, how customers access it becomes irrelevant - in fact, you want them to access it in asmany ways as possible, and have an appropriate experience depending on the device they use - mobile, PDA, Web browser, whatever)
So I think the secret to building a mobile social network is to treat the mobile device for what it is - a mobile device. Design your service and the functions within it with the mobile device and it's limitations in mind. Think about how people use their phones, and think how you can deliver a mobile experience that is very simple and accessible for the majority of mobile users, and then add bells and whistles later.
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by David Mould
Friday, December 28th, 2007 @ 4:24PM
What makes mobile social networking different from static, PC based social networking?
One aspect is the typical screen size for devices used for access, this is the same challenge faced by WAP browsers so can be overcome. Using the new service by Andrew Grey that translates standard URL into a numeric URL would be an interesting feature to have as an option to make browsing more efficient.
The key difference is the mobility of the user which opens up new dimensions to the user experience.
The opportunity to spin the view from the network based on your current location opposed to mobile access to your normal profile would be a great differentiator.
Users in your groups in the vicinity
You already belong to some large groups (interest groups, alumni etc) based on your current location the platform should highlight those known members nearby (to a user specified sensitivity). The physical location does not need to be too accurate, within the current cell should suffice (we don't want to encourage stalking).
Local information generated by the community
Reviews, tips, places to visit that the community recommends within the locale. Along the lines of the content available in niche social networking platform Tipped.
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by todd lyden
Friday, December 28th, 2007 @ 5:54PM
There are several keys points to consider moving forward:
1. which platform do you want to be married to? Android/Open Social seems to be the de facto winner of the overall future of where mobile apps will go. However, this does not preclude others in the market. At this point, it is probably too early to predict where to go platform-wise, but this could also be a viable option- something that pre-exists but crosses over.
Obviously, a pre-existing network like Facebook might be optimal. This moves to the next point to consider...
2. even with a platform, what do people want to do with a mobile social network?
I'd concur with Gary Hall(http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2007/12/28/social-networking-in-2008-friend-o r-failure/)- user generated content is probably necessary to constantly draw people back. Also, large-scale networks are destined to fail. As much as it might be cool to have the top number of friends or contacts, most people find little relevance for it. Things that consumer driven by the local market seem to be the guide that Hall might recommend. Identifying the local niche groups that will afford the most for advertising seems the logical choice. While the youth market is seemingly built-in, the boomer population and aging factor can not be ignored. (http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/newstex/IBD-0001-21902986.htm) "Research firm eMarketer says 37% of U.S. adults and 70% of teens use social networking sites. It projects that will rise to 50% of adults by 2011. "
It seems with a rise with more and more social networks, and each prepared to go mobile, it begs the question how can something "comprehensive" address the local?
It might make sense to develop more "portal" mechanisms that make it easier for "self-publication" of localized niche networks. Most are centered around interests, business, or locality. If something was generated with pre-existing formats (ie all facebook or myspace users from an area, etc), it would probably have appeal.
Once you get past the the who, the what is obviously important. Many apps already exist. What niche has yet to be filled?
More and more, primary internet accessibity is going to be the key notion. Probably exlplains the popularity of any Google-based solutions. How those functionalities can best be used, why use the phone instead of the computer is the question to be asked. Not just because it is mobile, but because it allows for the easier access to needed on-the-go information.
"Best place to X," "Where to find X," or doing the standard internet activities (blogging etc) though most of those seemed to have been addressed.
The scope of where to take this question is huge. Perhaps with some further consideration, you can find what has been missed.
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by Joseph Hunkins
Friday, December 28th, 2007 @ 11:56PM
One of the many challenges that social applications face is that simply building a great application won't get people to use it. Dodgeball is arguably amuch better mobile application than Twitter, yet as this simple alexa comparison graph indicates Twitter is very handily winning the battle for the hearts and minds of social networkers, even after Dodgeball's aquisition by Google: (Alexa is not a good stats metric but it will do for this comparison): http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeduck/2145170679/
Given the popularity of Twitter I think you may want to shoot for improvements and innovations on the basic and simple Twitter model, realizing that users appear to prefer usability, simplicity, and an existing heavily used network to more robust platforms.
I would suggest that the key mobile social challenge is maximizing interaction while minimizing typing.
Luckily a focus point that does both of these things is creating photo-based community via picture sharing. Typing remains a major downside to mobile socializing due to the difficulty of typing on phones. This challenge is likely to continue for some time even with new smartphone innovations, so it may be beneficial for you to build the socializing around photo sharing applications, making it easy to caption, send, and share pictures with friends. Pictures with only a few words of caption convey a lot of information very effectively, and there are currently no large photo sharing communities that are rooted in mobile communication, though Flickr's community features and mobile uploading are exceptional and may evolve into this. Working with Flickr and Flickr APIs to make a mobile photo sharing community might be the fastest path to this approach, though as you've suggested in the initial question you'll want to be compatible with Facebook and the new Open Social. In fact this cross platform compatibility would be a good "pitch" as you enter the market. Be the "one stop" mobile application that allows users to communicate across platforms as seamlessly as possible. Twitterfeed has become popular in this fashion, by allowing Twitter users to automatically have new blog posts appear as Tweets via an RSS feed. This type of enabling application is *very appealing* to users, especially the early adopters you'll need on your side to gain quick traction for your mobile application.
Also consider partnership with any mobile providers. Many major players remain "behind the curve" on social networking, so tailoring your application to a specific device or wireless carrier might get initial traction, though the politics may make this prohibitive. Also consider conference co-promotion of your application. Twitter's rapid rise appears to have originated mostly from heavy use during the big Southwest blogging conference last year, and some would argue this made the company.
Super early adopters like Robert Scoble and Chris Pirillo have been working a lot with video. Scoble recently with mobile video. I do NOT think mobile video applications like Seesmic or mobile YouTube applications are a good focus in social networking at this time although they may eventually become mainstream. For mass adoption I believe photo sharing is the strong social networking tool that is currently underutilized but will become very popular.
Encouraging mobile virality of your application is a key challenge. This may require very active participation by your company in existing social networks, encouraging and showing social onliners the "path" to your superior mobile application. Enlist early adopters in beta testing and be willing to accept harsh feedback, noting that early adopters may demand more features and UI pizazz than normal people.
Also along these lines you must make it *very easy* for new users to sign up and utilize services. Best is a simple or no login for the first tries so the user can focus on the application and not the drudgery of a sign up. If they like the application they'll sign up eventually, so at most ask for email address/phone during initial signup. Simple or non-signups may prove to be the holy grail of those who benefit the most from Open Social applications.
Twitter v. Dodgeball:
What's The Secret To Mobile Social Networking? by David Cassel
Friday, December 28th, 2007 @ 11:59PM
But your "mobile" advantage could come from the application's presence at outdoor locations (preferably one crowded with people). And that's when it gets really exciting...
Imagine using this at a class reunion - digitizing the high school yearbook photos along with the "now" photos (and allowing other members of the mobile application's group to leave comments below the photos.)
I can see an application like this being popular at big college parties or Spring Break-style events.
Arrangements could even be made to publish videos from a mobile social network on a web page. Ultimately this could even lead to a new genre — the viral mobile video. Imagine how intriguing New Yorkers would be by a social network offering the best New York City cellphone videos — this week, this year, all-time...