Written by journalist and advertising strategist Matthew Bryan Beck, the piece looked at how digital users are moving away from bloated social networks like Facebook and Google+ and spending more time on networks that offer more intimate and personal experiences. Beck specifically pointed to the increase in smartphone usage and ubiquity of mobile when it comes to content and networking.
Beck called this movement “mobile tribes.” He noted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s goal of “unbundling the big blue app” and offering multiple versions of Facebook and other Facebook-owned apps (Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.) so people can choose what to use based on their preferences.
If mobile tribes are leading social media’s future, then the following three platforms may not only affect the state of social media, but your business, as well:
1. Nextt: Merge online and offline private networks
Since social media’s inception, people have criticized social networks for the way they encourage anti-social behavior by encouraging usage that “rewards” frequency online with the perception of being someone important.
Facebook has been cited as a reason for one-third of failed marriages in which unreasonable behavior was a factor. Spouses have discovered flirty messages, photos of their partners with someone they weren’t supposed to be with, or photos of their partners attending events they never told their spouse about.
Now Nextt, which mixes online friendships with offline socializing, enters this hazardous arena. Initially launched as an iPhone app but also available on Android, Nextt describes itself as “a private network for close friends to connect online so they can do more together offline.”
Primarily built to counter the fear of missing out (FOMO), Nextt allows friends to use calendar templates and tools to arrange private get-togethers without worrying about multiple email chains, lost messages, mistaken dates and more.
Nextt distinguishes itself from similar networks by keeping activities between small groups of people who are already friends, unlike Meetup which suggest get-togethers with online connections. Nextt allows for privacy while making it easier to arrange date nights or city getaways. And once you iron out all the details, Nextt sends a notification to all parties and updates their calendars.
Nextt offers an opportunity to put the social back in social media.
2. Spayce: Make better use of the space you’re in
Spayce is similar to Facebook. Both started as student projects at Harvard, connect people and see mobile as the future of social networking. Unlike Facebook, however, Spayce takes a different approach to connecting people.
While Facebook wants to connect the world, Spayce wants to connect like-minded people who are within 100 meters of each other.
These small spaces can range from classrooms to business meetings to local bars and more. The idea is simple: Users create a profile that’s separated into personal and professional personas, and then use the appropriate persona for whatever social situation they’re in-personal for a bar and professional for a business meeting, for instance.
A personal profile shares pictures of the user, friends and three adjectives describing the user’s interests. A professional profile includes a user’s occupation and industries related to that user.
Spayce then uses facial recognition and hyper-location tools to highlight users within a certain vicinity, allowing people to connect with others who enjoy similar interests, tastes, discussions and more. Once connected, Spayce users can save events and participants for future get-togethers or meetings.
Spayce has already enjoyed a successful trial run at Harvard. One senior praised its ability to enable non-awkward meetings with people who haven’t previously met.
3. Pheed: Optimize your feeds
It seems like only yesterday that all the buzz was about Vine, the popular video app Twitter bought for $30 million in 2012. That buzz, however, has died down. Pheed is sparking the latest chatter.
Essentially a mish-mash of Twitter, Vine, Tumblr and SoundCloud’s best features, Pheed allows users to share text, images, videos, voice notes, audio tracks and live events. These features form a user’s channel. Other Pheed users can subscribe to these channels and connect with their owners.
Pheed’s monetization option is interesting. When users upload content, they can watermark their creations to tie the copyright back to them. Users can then charge people to access or use that content—anywhere from $1.99 to $34.99—on a per-view or per-month basis. Pheed takes a cut, and the user keeps the rest.
It’s a clever mix of premium and freemium. Pheed has exploded in popularity over the past six to 12 months; the Apple app consistently ranks high in the iTunes store.
Where does your business fit in?
Much like Instagram and Vine (and now WhatsApp and SnapChat), mobile-led social networks are notorious for not being business friendly. Part of the attraction of these networks is users’ ability to have friendships and network without interruptions from marketers.
To find more organic ways to connect with these services, however, businesses should consider how they can offer solutions and benefits for users, and not just think of ways to take advantage of the networks.
For example, could a restaurant or bar sponsor a Nextt meet up? Could a theater offer a VIP screening for movie-loving friends on Nextt? Could Airbnb partner with Spayce to offer collaborative work areas for like-minded users in the same vicinity? Could Pheed help creative studios provide power users with access to high-end creative tools to create licensed products?
These are just a few simple ideas. Depending on the networks’ goals and users, the ideas may or may not come to fruition. But one thing remains clear: The social media landscape is becoming a mobile-led arena, and businesses must think ahead to keep pace.
Danny Brown is co-author of “Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing.” He blogs at DannyBrown.me, where a version of this article originally appeared.
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