Many companies from platform providers to mobile network operators and handsets manufacturers are now involved in the race for the hottest users generated content.
According to a recent survey conducted in summer 2010, 20% of mobile users and 30% of smart phone users are now accessing social networking sites via their phone. And the expectation is that both mobile application and mobile browser usage will continue to develop very fast to facilitate the rapid growth of social networking via mobile phone.
What services are included in Mobile Social Networking?
It includes a diverse set of technologies and services ranging from simple chat room services where people can meet others and join their groups with only texting tools, to multimedia-rich environments and user generated content communities which persist after the user logs off.
There’s also tremendous confusion about what this new area of Social Networking covers, who is participating, who should be responsible for what and how to take advantage of the opportunities.
In addition to that, native mobile social networks have been created like Foursquare and Gowalla. Initially, there were two basic types of such networks. The first is companies that partner with wireless phone carriers to distribute their communities via the default start pages on mobile phone browsers, an example is JuiceCaster. The second type of companies is so called “off deck” companies that rely on other methods to attract users.
While mobile web evolved from proprietary mobile technologies and networks to full mobile access to the internet, the distinction has changed to the following two types: the first is web based social networks being extended for mobile access through mobile browsers and smartphone apps, the second type is native mobile social networks with dedicated focus on mobile use like mobile communication, location based services, augmented reality requiring mobile devices and technology.
When it comes to specific social networks, Twitter and Facebook both had increases in mobile browser usage in the triple digits. Both Facebook and Twitter have profited from implementing strong mobile strategies. Twitter’s mobile strategy and integration with SMS messages has made it a natural mobile player since its inception,while Facebook has a great presence on mobile platforms and many people are continuing to use it from a mobile browser. It shows that its mobile strategy is working. This cannot be said for MySpace which did not show the lack of mobile strategy and general decline in users numbers.
What does it all mean for you – as an owner of a niche social network or an online business community?
Well, it means a new revenue channel for your online community by porting your social network to the mobile platform and sharing revenues with the mobile carriers. This new stream alone will be very valuable monetization channel in the future and you better start thinking how to ride on this trend NOW. This revenue channel will grow over time as membership grows.
You might know that Facebook is the largest social network with over 600 million users. But Facebook is still small compared to the largest network in the world: the cell phone network. There are currently over 5 billion cell phone users world wide!
Despite the huge potential of mobile marketing there are a few people who tap into this channel to drive growth and sales for their business. I recommend you to check this very cool video explaining how you can use mobile to easily get paid for helping business owners attract new customers.