Social networking became the big thing with in last 5 years in internet. Many social networks came up with many different ideas to take human social experience online. Some of them were focused on dating, but many were having the objective of extend the friends network to many continents, to total strangers who may never get a chance to meet in real world. Hi5 offers cool features to interact with online friends like hi5s and wall while MySpace and Friendster gave folks the opportunity to have contact with total new friends replacing the concept ‘Pen pal’ with ‘Online pal’. Then Facebook came with the idea of ‘Exclusivity’ which allows surfers to have contact with the people they know in real world and it rocked the web and stood tall among others. Then Twitter came up with concept ‘Micro blogging’ which allow the people to express themselves easily in a simple text format.
What is the next step of evolution of social networking? As it seems it’s going to be ‘Mobile Social Networking’ or maybe it already is. There are strong signals out there to support this trend with the increased usage of wireless devices including smart phones and tablets. Most of the popular social networks also have taken steps to support this trend from their side using various technological advancements.
According to my research Twitter is the most active social network in mobile world. It gave facility for its users to update tweets using SMS which is very convenient. Folks don’t have to connect to internet, but just have to send a SMS to given number which is very user friendly way to express them and it could be used by anyone with any technical competency. Most of the countries allow the Twitter to use a toll free number which is a serious contributing factor for this trend. With the improvement of wireless mobile devices twitter was having increasing number of mobile internet users as well. Hence they came up with simplified mobile interface which could be easily rendered in small resolution mobile displays. The simple functionality of twitter helped this trend to continue exponentially. Additionally twitter introduced a mobile client which could gather more information from the device automatically including location details and attach them to tweet easily. This mobile client is very popular among iPhone and Android phone users. The result was nearly half of the tweets updated came from mobile devices in past year and twitter leads the trend.
It should be somewhat difficult for Facebook to go mobile due to complex functionality and rich media transferring. However they have done a great job with the simplified mobile version of Facebook which is m.facebook.com. It provides only the most wanted functionalities like status update, photo sharing, commenting and profiles. It is light weight and optimized to use bandwidth efficiently. However it couldn’t rock the market like twitter did till the Facebook mobile client comes to the picture. It gained increasing popularity with the iPhone and Android boom. The application could be installed in the smart phone or tablet locally and it is using Facebook API calls to fetch data and populate the interface. With this now Facebook also in the big picture with twitter side by side. Additionally they introduced SMS status update and notification like features as well. It contributed to current success of mobile version of Facebook.
As everyone knows Linkedin is special kind of social network which took the concept of ‘Exclusivity’ to its next step. It allows you take your professional social experience online. You can add your real life professional contact in there to your friend list. This highly exclusive social network is also going mobile with its mobile friendly version which is m.LinkedIn.com same as Facebook. It also provides most wanted features in a special web interface which is optimized for mobile devices. Further, same as Facebook LinkedIn also have mobile client, yet according to my experience it’s not popular as Facebook or Twitter. The reason may be LinkedIn is a professional exclusive social network and folks just won’t come to hang around in there. As the final result LinkedIn also successfully moving on with mobile social networking trend and having increasing number of mobile users in past few years.
MySpace is one of the oldest social networks out there in internet. Before the time of Facebook and Twitter it was rocking the show. However, with the success of Facebook and twitter its popularity seems reducing. It tried to introduce new set of game with Zynga having the objective of attract more users. However, so far none gave good result. When it comes to mobile social networking they also have introduced mobile version of web interface and mobile client as well same as Facebook and Twitter. But according to statistical data same as in standard internet, even in mobile world its popularity is going down. It having continuously dropping number of users and seems losing the competition.
Google latitude is very special kind of social network which is specially designed to work with mobile devices which are having GPS receiver. It has provided mobile client and it could update your location data online. So your friends will be able to see where you are now. Further, out of your friend’s network you will be able to identify gatherings and meet ups using their location data. This could be very appealing paradigm in social networking. Previously latitude was having a online interface to update location manually and so many people were doing it. But with the improvement of hardware in mobile devices they extend the concept to automate the location data updating which helped them to step ahead in mobile social networking trend.
Why Social Network Goes Mobile?
Increased Internet Speed for Mobile Devices
The main contributing factor for this exponential trend of mobile social networking is increased speed of wireless internet. Sometimes back the speed of mobile internet was 28.8 Kbps which was no good enough speed to do anything other than check mails in text format. But with the generation of mobile evolution keep increasing the connection speed. Today there are mobile internet connections having speeded more than 10 Mbps which is sometimes faster than fixed line broadband internet connection. Hence, mobile devices also could access internet same as PC. This helped people to use social networking sites on the go.
In addition to connection speed, the hardware of mobile devices also was upgraded significantly. Sometimes ago processing power of mobile devices were less than 50 Mhz. But today it’s exceeding 1GHz and that processing power is good enough to use high speed internet connections and render advanced graphics. When it comes to touch screen displays, their response time is significantly improved and they became more usable, especially for internet browsing. These improvements also contributed to the ‘Mobile social networking’ trend.
Mobile Optimization of Social Networks
As you could see in above paragraphs, most of the popular social networking sites have came up with light weight mobile web interfaces having the objective of make it easier to render in a mobile screen and optimize bandwidth usage. For that they have designed basically text based light weight versions with very lesser images. Further, they have optimized the screen width to fit to any mobile device. Most of the advanced features are been removed and frequently used features are organized in the interface in a very streamlined manner. So many mobile internet users are attracted to use social networks in mobile internet browser using wireless connectivity.
Additionally, you could see that most of the social networks are came up with mobile clients for popular mobile device platforms having the objective of improve the performance and optimize the bandwidth usage further. They are using provided web services to communicate with core application functions using very light weight protocols including JSON and SOAP. I could see that most of the iPhone users and Android users are attracted to Facebook and Twitter client give a signal of success of above effort. These technological advancement and development effort of social networks also have contributed to growth of ‘Mobile social networking’ trend.
The social impact of mobile social networking is in front of our eyes today. If you take a look at Facebook status update and tweets, there are so many updates you can tell that they came from mobile devices. They would sound like ‘At Lecture’ or ‘On the way to big apple’. And if you take a look at Facebook photo upload stream, there are so many mobile uploads. These showing that people have become more open to social networks when they are with a mobile device rather than with a PC. And most importantly they have updated location data, sometimes as text or may be automatically with Geo tagging techniques. And when you update a status, the response time of your friends have became very short since most of them are connected to social networks with their smart phones and tables. These are living proof that mobile social networking has taken the real human social experience online way better than previous PC based access. However, I have noted sometimes people don’t care about their privacy when they update status and photos online which might lead to serious problems. Finally, its user’s responsibility to update details wisely.
The main reason for the popularity of mobile social networking is very fast access and response time since you have your wireless mobile device most of the time with you. With the future technological development the mobile social network will extend beyond wireless mobile devices. Instead of mobile device, there can be a device you can wear all the time or may be permanently implanted to your body. It could update you biological data to social network. So your friends or relations could see them online as long as they are in your network you also would be able to do the same. So future status update might looks like this.
‘My blood pressure is 100-140’
After seen this, a friend might comment.
‘Dude, why is your blood pressure so high. Are you OK?’
Possibilities are limitless in this kind of social network and real life social experience will be totally represented online and may be more. The above mentioned kind of social network could be used by a hospital to track the patient’s data more effectively and attend to issues in a timely manner.
As long as people are so open in social networks due to mobile trend, leaders could use that as a tool to identify people’s mentality. Once an employee updates a status, it could be a valuable piece of information for a manager or employer. This kind of data might be used to take strategic decision in human resource management. If you think further, collection large amount of social network update could be used to Government strategic decision making procedures. If you could enter those data in to appropriate machine learning algorithm, the government would be able to predict the mental state of civilians with a statistical probability and that will be valuable information to decide the momentum of country’s future growth.
Tags: #Facebook #Mobile #Social Networks #Twitter