It's obvious that mobile has taken on a life beyond simple communication with a friend or family via voice or text. The combination of mobile and social sharing has put a powerful broadcasting tool in the hands of teens. It's a world in which the on- and offline worlds are constantly bridged. This is a game-changer for the teenage mindset. Teens, who, as Frank O'Brien articulated here back in October, are primarily concerned with crafting and maintaining their image among social circles, now have the ability (if not also the social pressure) to constantly broadcast the defining elements of their lifestyle and image to their social networks.
Marinate on that while sprinkling in some data from the likes of Pew, Neilsen, and other 2010 studies that have told us one of the top uses of mobile devices among teens is the taking and sharing of photos. There's no simpler way to offer up a rich slice of your life than by sharing a photo on your social networks for all to see, like, comment on or retweet -- or even by sending a mass MMS to your inner circle. Every photo shared is an opportunity build ego and define one's self in the eyes of one's friends.
So this social scrapbooking trend has a lot of potential, that much is clear, but can we point to any tangible results or specific instances of how these habits are being capitalized on? Here are four solid examples to learn from:
Instagram Photo Sharing App Explodes on iOS
This dead-simple photo sharing application for iOS makes your photos look super-cool and blasts them out to every major social network for you with only a few taps of the finger. It launched in October 2010 and surpassed 1 million users in a matter of weeks. Keep in mind, Foursquare took about a year to reach 1 million users and make that two years for Twitter. Its immediate popularity, simplicity, and unparalleled integration with major social networks offer hard proof that photo, mobile, and social are a hot combination for 2011.
Facebook Reaches 100 Million Mobile Users
Known as the world's premier social network, it's no surprise that Facebook also holds the title of World's Most Popular Photo Sharing Platform as well. With the announcement that it has surpassed 100 million monthly mobile users, it might also be the most popular platform on mobile. Via its mobile app, Facebook has made it dead simple to shoot, upload, caption, and tag friends in photos. There's no longer an "offline experience" for teens -- everything is sharable, and they look forward to the responses and perceptions it sparks.
Foursquare Is The New Scrapbooking
The top location-based social network now offers users the ability to upload a photo with every check-in. This functionality also extends to the aforementioned Instagram, which, in partnership with Foursquare, offers users the ability to check in with a photo on Foursquare in addition to blasting that photo out to their other preferred social networks. It's a clean, utilitarian infusion of social scrapbooking into location-based social. Let's keep an eye on how this takes off. Oh wait, don't forget Path:
Photo-based Social Network "Path" Boils Down the Social Graph
In the spirit of Instagram, Path has distilled highlights of Facebook into a mobile app that allows users to document their daily lives via photos, which are, of course, broadcast out to up to 50 followers. Wait, what's that you say? Only 50 followers? Yes, Path is all about quality over quantity. By limiting users to 50 connections, it hopes each photo shared will be shared an intimate group of engaged friends. One-trick apps and social scrapbooking functionality like this are showing a lot of potential for 2011.
I can't imagine social scrapbooking growing more strongly with any other segment than teens in 2011. It feeds into their need states and, from a technographic standpoint, they're poised to voraciously adopt advanced mobile platforms and broadcast mechanisms like the examples detailed above. I'm excited to continue this exploration of the mobile space for teens, and would love to get your thoughts as well. What are you seeing out there in the mobile space for 2011?