Social Networking Apps: There is a progression that has hit social networks after the touch screens invaded the market. Now, do not think that the progression has led to something like Facebook which undeniably remained the holy grail of social networks for since long.
In fact, the desperation of Facebook to acquire WhatsApp gave us hints that there is something interesting happening in the social space driven by mobile devices with apps.
What this progression has done is to segregate the social space and provide users with social networks with a streamlined purpose. Today, each social app is exclusive and provides something unique to a particular segment of users. From our observation and development experience, we see that the social space has now segregated into three basic categories which are –
Types of Social Networking Apps
- Messaging apps (relies on spontaneity)
- Location apps (relies on unique data)
- Apps based on occupation and interests (relies on unique user-generated content)
Let us deal with each of them and see their basic aspects. We would also try and understand the differentiators to help you get a grasp of the trends in social apps. If you have an app idea for a social app, see where does it fall among the given categories.
1. Messaging Apps
Messaging apps can be classified as applications that allow you to instantly message people in your contact lists or e-mails. Some messaging apps can themselves create unique IDs (BBM) for people to add and send instant messages. These apps are mostly centered around conversations and are accompanied by other features as an add-on.
Remember, messaging apps dealing with instant communications do not spring out of any particular hobby or interest. They are just based on the spontaneous exchange of messages while other integrated multimedia features boost them as differentiators.
The unique selling point of these apps is the ease and spontaneity of communication. Consider Whatsapp, Line or We Chat; all three of them are centered around a direct conversation with the most important contacts.
While Facebook Messenger was also supposed to do that, it could not score in the spontaneity factor. Whoever has simultaneously used WhatsApp and FB messenger would understand that WhatsApp requires lesser efforts as compared to FB Messenger to get the job done.
Differentiation in messaging apps has occurred mostly in selected features. Some of these features include stickers, privacy, providing calling features over wifi, etc. In fact, the forthcoming social apps in this category we are seeing, are coming with similar types of differentiators.
Some messaging apps also evolved from specialized and unique communication patterns. For example, Avocado is based entirely on one-to-one conversations based on romantic relationships. The app backs it up with a drawing board, hug and kiss feature as differentiators to give a good experience.
Another example of differentiation can be Emu. Emu is similar to WhatsApp but differentiates on organization functions and brings in a calendar too.
2. Social Networking Applications Based on Location Sharing
Social networking can derive enormously from locations. After all, locations are directly relevant to people and businesses alike. Hence, location-based social apps are extremely important and drive local-scale networking.
The unique selling point of location-based social apps lies in engaging people to plan events, inform about traffic, give alerts, point out fast food/restaurants, checking public transport, etc. The USP here is about the information, unlike the ease and spontaneity of communication. In fact, the frequency of communication is less and passive in location apps.
Within location sharing applications there is not much differentiation on the basis or the way communication or networking is done. Almost all of them feature virtual rewards for users for pointing out locations. These locations can be businesses such as restaurants, cafes, movie theaters, shops, or navigation details.
Some popular location-sharing apps are –
- Foursquare- helps your friends to find what’s nearby and get the best deals
- Shopkick– rewards users to check-in into stores and collect rewards and bonuses
- Loopt– allows users to share real-time location and provides a mini description of locations
- OpenTable– allows users to read restaurant reviews and earn points for free meals
- Fandango- allows users to find the movies playing in nearby theaters
Location-based social apps have lately become investor’s favorite as they provide substantial ways for monetization.
3 Social Networking Apps Based on Occupation and Hobbies/Interests:
Apps based on Occupation:
Let us deal with occupation or business apps first. Aptly known as Socio-business apps, these applications help users grow their business by letting them engage with relevant people within their business domains.
Based mostly upon sharing business seminars, business ideas, trade shows, finding a business match for a venture, etc.
Differentiation within social apps is seen with respect to the various purpose of the application. While many apps might orient themselves with respect to the business areas you are interested in, others would allow you to find connections and network spontaneously.
Some Examples of Social Networking Apps developed by OpenXcell
Herematch: Herematch is a socio-business application that is developed by Openxcell. This application differentiates on the USP of finding forthcoming seminars, trade shows and connect to people who might be attending it or share similar business interests. The application was also accompanied by a web version to increase engagement.
Cultured: Cultured is a socio-business app created by Openxcell that allows users to network with other professionals within their business areas of interest. The application also brings in other elements apart from professional connections alone, making it more interesting for networking.
Apps based on hobbies and interests:
Social applications that deals with hobbies and interest are the most important lot. These apps are based on activities that users commonly share with each other. Oftentimes, it is mostly seen that the nature and exclusivity of the activity relate directly to the volume and engagement of the app.
The unique selling point of these applications lies in creating unique content. As a derivative of the activity or the hobby; unique content should be generated. This is the only mantra to make an app store hit when it comes to social apps based on hobbies and interests.
Differentiation can be intuitive and can be based entirely on the execution of the app. Other than that, the UI/UX and the approach of the designer can make a huge difference in the application. Also, the app idea itself can be an advanced version of an existing application.
Note: There are various mobile applications that are categorized under photo or video applications but draw their masses through sharing and networking between users. These can also be categorized as one type of networking apps.
- Instagram: Creates unique pictures with filters
- Vine: Creates stop animation videos with ease
- Soundcloud: Categorized under Music and Audio but draws hugely from social sharing within the app and Facebook Integration
Openxcell has worked on a video-creating application that is similar to Vine. However, clip me can take more than 2 users to create a video. Hence, the basic driving factor behind the application is networking.
Find more information on the app here. https://openxcell.com/work/clip-me.html
The segmented market of social apps is vast and applicable to a plethora of applications belonging to other categories as well. However, based on the engagement patterns, networking patterns, and content we could arrive at the 3 categories mentioned above.
So, what do you think about your social networking app? Where does it belong? Are you still apprehensive about its USP and differentiators?