links for 2007-07-31

Mobile social media and micromedia

iStock_000003099714XSmall.jpgI've been evangelizing the power of mobile technology for about six years now. From the early days of the original Palm Pilot and brutally slow early cell phone browsers the potential for making an impact is massive and is equally untapped. According to M:Metrics 55%+ of Americans now own a cell phone and that number is growing every day. On top of that, data access speeds are getting faster and phone functionality is becoming more robust.

Take these numbers from M:Metrics on consumption:
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You can see that SMS (text messaging) is leading the way followed by photo messaging and content browsing. Given this information and looking at the types of MicroMedia that we're dealing with today, the potential uses of mobile for engagement is huge. MicroMedia is a term (coined?) created by Jermiah Owyang at Web Strategist. He saw the need for a missing term that really encompasses "micro-blogging" and "micro-messaging". You can read his definition at his post, here is my altered version leveraging his original:

Text, audio or video messages published to a trusted social community. Content is created and consumed using synchronized, mixed platforms including mobile, web-based and installed software applications, and often distributed using other social media tools.

The traditional web is comprised of high-bandwidth, large/wide format content. The problem is that it's not suitable for the small screen and the clunky (at best) data entry techniques on today's phone. What these new micromedia formats accomplish is creating value through quick, low-bandwidth, low-complexity content creation.

Here are some examples:

  • Presence apps (Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Facebook): These presence applications allow for quick updates to be published using multiple platforms and distributed using the same platforms to a trusted network of peers.
  • Social friend networks (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc.): This is more robust, high-bandwidth content, but mobile hooks are still there including publishing from phones, uploading audio/video/photos.
  • Photo/video networks (Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, etc.): Expanding on this point, more and more phones have photo/video cameras and are connected to the mobile network. Shooting a video or a photo and instantly uploading them to the web is a reality. The process is easy (send the file to a unique address) and near real-time.

All of this mobile, MicroMedia content adds value to the creator as well as the community of people that they're connected to. Social networks are great at serving as aggregators for small, frequent content much more so than traditional content management systems. For a couple examples, take a look at my Facebook profile and homepage and my Jaiku feed (which I just use to aggregate other MicroMedia into one centralized feed).

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So, when you're looking at your social media endeavors, keep mobile in mind. Grab a phone and start playing with it. Take some photos and send them to friends. Take a video and send them too. Join Twitter and text message in some updates. Above all, keep an open mind, but don't let this pass you by.

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