For many, the term “social media” immediately brings Facebook and Twitter to mind. Some may recall the heyday of Friendster and MySpace, but in recent years, the social landscape has evolved to include Pinterest, Tumblr, Foursquare and many others. The history of social media is a storied one, even chronicled in movies and books.
Many social networks were conceived and built for the Internet and later developed apps. Facebook provided a platform for companies like Flipster to develop alternate Facebook experiences on smartphones, while Twitter waited to launch an official app.
Other social networks, however, created an experience for the mobile platform from the start. For instance, Foursquare was developed to track the location of a user’s device when he or she ”checks in” at a favorite place. Incorporating gaming and incentives helped catapult Foursquare to the 25 million users it reports today.
Instagram also recognized the potential of mobile, launching as a social network designed for mobile users to edit and share photos on their platform as well as Facebook. The result was a billion-dollar purchase by Facebook this year.
No matter where a social network originated, mobile is and will continue to be an essential business objective for all social networks. Providing a satisfying user experience is a priority, particularly as smartphones and tablets become more powerful and run on 4G LTE networks.
Apps like Color and Instagram add complexity to the social network experience on mobile devices beyond status updates and tweets. They point to a future that embraces multimedia and a blurring line between the online and mobile experience.