2009: The Year of Mobile Social Media.

Mobile and Social.

As far as predictions go this one is fairly obvious: 2009 should be a breakout year for Mobile Social Networks: Always-on, Context-aware devices + microblogging behaviour comes together to create possibilities far exceeding those of PC-based media.

This feels so wrong and uncool, but I have a confession to make: I prefer microblogging my status on mobile Facebook than on mobile Twitter.

In fact, I’m hooked and check status regularly on Facebook mobile (m.facebook.com). No special app, just the mobile site. First thing I see is a list of statuses (stati?). Most of my Nokia colleagues are on Facebook, and are doing the same. Even though Facebook was clearly not set up as a mobile network, it is working just fine for us.

I spoke to Christine Perey about this when she visited us at Nokia HQ. She somewhat patronizingly said it must be that Nokia Employees do not know about the “better” mobile social networks and the technical enablers that are available. That is rubbish of course, partly because we’re building some interesting ones.

What this actually proves is the power of the network. Metcalfe’s Law. The value of a telecommunications network proportional to the square of the number of people in the network.

One distinction is that whereas telecommunications networks are, apart from the people in them, basically otherwise identical, virtual social networks do have differences in terms of User Experience and features etc. Perhaps we can add in the quality of the user experience into the equation, since this does impact the value too.

Value of a Social Network to an individual =Uex(N)2

Where Uex = the quality of the User Experience and features to the individual, and N = the number of people in the network… or at least the number of people the individual cares about.

Since more people I care about are spending their time on Facebook than on Twitter, it appeals to me much more, even if it is not designed with microblogging in mind. (Although the fact that you can comment on a status seems much better than having to put @someone, which seems a very clumsy way to communication to me: wastes valuable characters and means you can’t easily see a conversation stream).

I mentioned once to Jyri Engeström (founder of Jaiku, former Nokian and all around nice fella) in Helsinki that the barrier to entry for microblogging has been going down as people realise that it is after all just like updating your Facebook status. People don’t think they are microblogging, but they are regularly updating their status (especially if they check Facebook from their mobile device). Now Jyri is hoping to move the industry forward by achieving an interoperable microblogging network, which would get over this need for people to be using the same service as each other. Then the value can truly be in the Uex, and we can get back to building remarkable social services, without the size of the network being the determining factor in people’s decisions.

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6 thoughts on “2009: The Year of Mobile Social Media.

  1. anssi says:

    I think there are 2 very different audiences if you compare fb & microblogging platforms. I would bet that most of the audience in FB are somehow related to you or more or less your friends. Microblogging is very different in my opinion.

    The way messages are indexed in microblogging platforms are more organized so the usability is much more about having a conversation around a topic where in Facebook your status updates are just a fun thing to do in my opinion. Not saying that status updates are competing with micro messaging but the purpose varies.

    When looking at you friends on Facebook & Microblogging platform it also varies. When on Facebook 95% of the people you know but on Microblogging you don’t necessary know (came up with that percentage). You can “add” as many people on microblogging to be able to follow them (sometimes approval is needed from user) but then you will receive their micro messages.

    I think the way we communicate to each other will change rapidly in the following days/years

  2. dagood says:

    Good point Anssi. One is used for “real friends”, one is used more for “virtual friends”… or something 🙂

  3. Jussi-Pekka says:

    Here’s an interesting article about how we interact with our friends in different social networking sites. The article gives a nice picture about scarcity of attention and hidden networks of connections underlying the “declared” set of friends and followers in different services. http://tinyurl.com/89tr6y

  4. Ms. Jen says:

    Hmmm… I would have to disagree with Anssi here, as I think that which social media sites that one spends time on and posts either personal or public stati in depends on which sets of one’s social group can be found where. I have noticed that in the last year there is not a monolithic space where everyone plugs in, but that many people now have 2-3 social media spaces that are tailored to which group of friends/family/colleagues are on which space.

    For me it is as follows:

    MySpace: Legacy music friends & music industry colleagues dating back to my music days – all met

    Facebook: ugh. Started as web design friends who I know in person from conferences, then people from college & high school found me, now I avoid it like the plague. There is a reason I don’t go to reunions. Seriously considering deactivating my account again…

    Twitter: Almost everyone I follow I have met at least once and consider a friend, most I see in person at least once a year. This is my most personal space as I am updating status for friends. Only recently have I started to follow folks I know from mailing lists or other forum (forii?) that I have not met in person but have been interacting with online for sometime.

    Jaiku: A few I have met but most are folks who made interesting comments and now I like and follow for their brains, wit, or fascinating sorted stories. The funny part is that I enjoy the conversations at jaiku the most.

    This upcoming weekend at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas, I will go around and do a bit of a survey to see if folks have completely migrated from MySpace to Facebook or if they have several divergent streams.

    ;o)

  5. dagood says:

    Would be interested to hear the results of that survey, Ms Jen 🙂

    I must admit that I don’t quite understand the behaviour of following thousands of people on twitter if I don’t know them. I just don’t want to know what they ate for lunch, but then I am missing out on links and other snippets of useful info.

    I’m also thinking of de-friending some people (maybe I could get a few free whoppers!) Once my curiousity has been sated and I’ve found out what they look like now etc, I could care less what their minute-to-minute status is. Very few of them are using the mobile version of Facebook though, so at least status updates are rare from them.

  6. I would have to say I’m agreement with you Dan on this.
    Long have I been at odds with the naming conventions that mislead users with products on a day to day basis.

    I had a big thing last year where I would ask friends and friends of friends if they had the internet on their mobile phone…

    “No.” would often be the response.. but ask them again if they had facebook? “Yes.” Would be the reply.

    Updating my status is another way of microblogging.
    Microblogging is a short form version of blogging.
    Blogging is an online diary.

    Do you write a diary? Yes.
    Do you write a blog? No.

    Radio vs Podcasts, TV vs Online Video, it goes on and on and on…

    I often get asked if my job falls under the remit of PR. Again, No is always the response.
    People have a negative view of the traditional PR world and anytime you attach those two letters to a job, role, idea… hackles are raised.

    Of couerse what I do is PR, but i’d never tell anyone 😉

    Anyway, I’m moving away from the point… You and your friends are the network, what you use to communicate are just tools. Different tools for different jobs.. but tools all the same.

    You know this already… 😉

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