While I’m not thrilled with the introduction of “yet another social network”, I do see social networking and mobile social networking continuing to grow. Just in different ways.
First, there is a growing number of companies providing single application access to multiple existing social networks such as Flickr, Facebook, AIM, and so forth. To a degree, Yahoo is doing this. Several startups, some of whom we have helped, are working to compete in this direction.
Expect the majority of them to fail, but some will get the user experience right. Success in this arena lies in connecting to enough relevant social networks, allowing cross-network movement of data and sharing, ease of use, and user-targeted advertising.
Second, mobile social networks are proliferating. I tried out MocoSpace pretty early on, meaning that I got a simple user name. About once a week now I get password reminders, suggesting that people are trying to use the application. Sorry, Barbara, whoever you are.
If you are building one of these applications, you’ll really need to think about your target market. I imagine in places with long train/bus commutes, you’ll do well. Otherwise, when are people going to spend time on social networking on the phone? In class? In meetings? In short, be sure you understand why you have a mobile focus and then design features accordingly. Do not copy MySpace or Facebook.
Third, there is the “everything is a community” applications. Have a movie site? Add ratings and commentary at a minimum; incorporate group chat and group coordination for people to go see the movie together. More advanced: track when a user is at a movie theater. When leaving the movie theater, detect other users leaving the same theater. Invite them to meet outside the theater to go talk about the movie with other movie goers.
I think that the “everything is a community” applications are where mobile gets really useful, either as mobile components of multiple-target applications or as exclusively mobile applications. Increasing interaction with your brand and your content is a good thing.
We’ve been “adding community” to appropriate mobile applications for a few years now. The nice thing these days is that our clients are more receptive to it.
Call it Mobile 2.0 if you insist, though I don’t recommend it.