When you think of social networks, you likely think of popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter or even the reminescents of MySpace of LiveHournal (the latter two of which we think are likely on the verge of making a comeback.) However, with the rise in use of mobile devices, many developers are creating social networks designed only for mobile users with little (or no) web-based component.
Many of these mobile social networks are only available for certain types of mobile operating systems, and are thereby limited in use to those who use these types of devices – such as Android or iOS. However, these limitations don’t seem to seem to limit the popularity of mobile social networks, as you’ll see in this list of the top 5 mobile social networks.
One of the most popular social networks restricted to not only mobile users, but just iPhone users, is Instagram. With over 14 million users, Instagram has become a must-have app for iPhone users, offering the ability to transform mundane and poorly-taken pictures into stunning photograhy that captures the essence of the moment.
Instagram is a free download for iPhone users and now offers over 15 filters, blur effects, and the ability to share your photos with your more traditional social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, users can geotag photos and integrate another mobile social network, FourSquare, to add context about the photo when sharing it.
Speaking of FourSquare, this mobile social network is also one of the other most popular social networks of mobile users – but luckily, its availble for a variety of mobile platforms beyond just the iPhone, including Andorid, BlackBerry, and the Windows phone.
FourSquare is a simple concept at first glance; simply use the app whenever you visit a a place – whether it’s a store, park, your office or any other destinatino – and “check in” to either share your location with FourSquare friends and/or with friends on Facebook and/or Twitter. (The option to share your FourSquare activity with traditional social networks is completely optional each time you check in.) The bonus to using FourSquare is both bragging rights, as you can accumulate points on a weekly basis for checking into the most places (and the most times to a single place or types of place) and by becoming “Mayor” of a place.
This Mayorship can bring benefits at certain locations, such as a coffeeshop which might offer the Mayor a discount on their lattee as long as they retain their status. FourSquare is free for all available platforms.
Tired of your massive, cluttered traditional social networks like Facebook or Twitter, leaving you unable to keep up on the latest news about even your best friends?
Path is a new social network for only Android and iPhone users that restricts your network to only 50 friends. While Path has been on the receiving end of criticism lately for making some errors related to users’ privacy, they have since apologized in a blog post, saying “We believe you should have control when it comes to sharing your personal information.”
A recent (and notably not scientific) poll of LockerGnome community members showed that many say Path is their favorite mobile social network. If you haven’t tried it out for yourself, Path is available for free for iPhone and Android users.
There are dozens of recommendations services on the web – you may already be familiar with one of the most popular, Yelp. Stamped is a new social network that creates a social experience out of recommendations by allowing its users to put a “stamp” of recommendation on just about anything, whether its a restaurant, a bar, a type of beer, a club, a band, or a TV show.
Like Instagram, this is only available for iPhone users and those who join can only see stamps of approvals from friends, so users must connect their Facebook and/or Twitter to gain benefit from using the app.
While we were slightly harsh on the app when we first reviewed it in November 2011 — mostly because it was only being used by early adopters in the NYC or the San Francisco Bay Area, it is slowly picking up steam. Stamped is free in the iTunes App Store.
If you can’t get enough recommendations from your friends using a mobile social networks like Stamped, consider joining Oink – a new mobile social network developed by Kevin Rose, allows you to not just review places, but things at those places – such as a specific type of beer at a bar or an item on a menu at restaurant.
Again, this app is just for iPhone users (sorry, Android fan boys and girls) but it is a great concept for those who know where to go – but not exactly what to do or get once they are there. Users can connect with friends and also follow other users to see what they recommend, or just see what’s most popular at the destination of your choice – or find the most popular types of things nearby.
Of course, as FourSquare has demonstrated, no mobile social network is great without a layer of gamification, and Oink has integrated ways for users to gain points to land on leaderboards and unlock more features. Oink is free in the iTunes app app store.
These are just 5 of the top mobile social networks. Have you joined other mobile social networks? If so, what are your favorites? Let us know your favorites in the comments.