Monday 8 December 2008

MomoLondon: Mobile Social Networking

Not the most thrilling of momolondon’s tonight. The panel format worked well and the chairs asked reasonably interesting questions, but I think it was the subject matter that just felt a bit samey to me. Even the twitter backchannel seemed a little subdued. Maybe it was just my cold…

The best bits for me were Steve Lawson talking about his experiences of trying to use his mobile for social media (where by media, he meant actual music and video production).

Priya Prakash of Flirtomatic also had some interesting things to say, but I felt that she didn’t really get into her stride. She said she was in the middle of a user experience analysis of her site and wanted to involve the audience in some research, but this never really happened. Perhaps an idea for a future Mobile Monday…?

Anyway, here’s my notes — as always, please add comments if there’s something that you want to know more about.

First Panel: Why are people going to be using mobile social media?


  • Chair: Josie Fraser
  • Steve Lawson - Musician/Consultant
  • Luke Brynley-Jones - Trutap
  • Paul May - Bluehoo
  • Brian Fuchs - Internet Centre, Imperial College
  • Graham Brown - MobileYouth


  • broadcast model of connecting to audience is dying
  • entry level of broadcasting has dropped
  • how am I using it: with a great deal of frustration…
  • currently using mobile to post data as things happen
  • not using other people’s mobiles
  • where is it going? for most people, it’s not the gadget that’s important
    • don’t want my audience to have to become mobile geeks in order to access
    • e.g. twitter
  • I take the bus rather than the tube as I can be online during the journey


  • had to focus on where users actually were
  • a lot of users in asia — india, indonesia
  • did 120 interviews with users and ex-users
  • had been focussing on facebook, but 0% of users in Mumbai have facebook accounts
  • further details:
    • typically 20-30 year olds
    • slight male bias, but not much
    • wanted to chat with their friends
    • wanted to flirt and meet others
    • location was important — e.g. there are transport problems in Mumbai
    • sitting there 2-3 hours a day chatting with their friends


  • wrote a book in 2001 called Mobile Commerce — did very well in China…
  • nowadays meetings never happen when they’re organised — instead people send you messages by every which way and you’re supposed to pick them all up and not be surprised
  • in a proper mobile world, everybody here in the room would be communicating with each other, rather than just panel broadcasting out with no feedback
    • that was kind of happening with the twitter backchannel, but it wasn’t reaching the panel very well
    • Josie said she would have liked the twitter stream on the projector


  • have to develop peer-to-peer architectures and decentralised payment solutions
  • otherwise 3 billion devices will overwhelm the services


  • “only two industries in the world that call their customers ‘users’… the mobile industry and crack dealers!”
  • mobile social media is not relevant for youth - just want to look good and get laid :-)
  • driven by:
    1. need to belong
    2. need to be significant
  • go and see what red bull is doing with red bull music academy


What about people over 35?

  • Steve: most of my audience are over 30
  • Graham: youth are future customers
    • mobile social media is not the sales channel
    • it’s about building the relationship in order to increase the sales opportunities
    • so youth are the future market (like banks)
  • Simon Rockman: only successful phone aimed at older people was Emporio(?) in Austria
  • Steve: “proposed twitter to my Mum — terminology was the barrier”
    • “as soon as I explained that it was like texting me and my brother at the same time, she wanted me to sign her up straight away”
    • “now if I tweet and text at the same time, she returns the tweet first”

What about privacy?

  • Paul: we seem to have all agreed to become performers
  • Josie involved with schools looking at use of mobile
    • looking at addressing behavioural issues such as happy slapping
    • rights and responsibilities

Terence Eden: is it a danger that there’ll be too much focus on iPhone when everybody use RAZRs?

  • Steve: ok to target 10% if they can distribute to others — make content “tearable”

2nd Panel: Industry Perspectives


  • Chair: Dan Appelquist — Vodafone/Mobile Monday
  • Andrew Scott — Founder of Rummble
  • Sean Kane — Head of Mobile for Bebo
  • Priya Prakash — Flirtomatic
  • Jennifer Grenz — Shozu
  • Christophe Hocquet — Moblr/BuddyMob
    • have seen average session times of 3 hours!

What impact is flat rate having?

  • Priya: one user came along to user testing with 6 different SIM cards and was swapping in and out as needed and for best rate…
    • as long as they can access the service, they will do what it takes
  • Jen: big change for Shozu is roaming to wifi
  • Sean: lot of bebo users are under 24, but are spending a lot
    • 30% of traffic on a lot of operators is going to mobile social networking

How many of your users are roaming? Is that impacting?

  • Andrew: mobile by definition is something you travel with
  • Sean: see a lot of users switching to roam-able services like text messaging

On deck/off deck

  • Sean: need to be both off and on deck
    • starting today, wouldn’t bother with on deck
    • “all the friction is on deck” — you have to work with lots of awkward operator people
  • Priya: if you could get rid of all those noisy banners operators should be able to make a fantastic personalised experience…
  • Jen: non-operator driven discoverability is on the rise, compared to operator-driven
  • Sean: haven’t figured out how to make mobile experiences viral — how do you share?
  • Dan: Obama iPhone app — download and it examines your address book and tells you to call people in swing states
  • Priya: need to have a contextual “share with a friend” — share a social object. It’s a challenge to find something suitable to send
  • Jen: “this service is more exciting to me if you join”
  • Andrew: released iPhone app, not Java, since 99% sure that it will be a good experience
  • Priya: how many people in audience have sent something to a friend via a mobile internet site? answer: about 30-40%
  • Sean: SMSs are not a long term strategy, but are good as a one off to bring people in to the network

How do you inform users of potential costs?

  • Dan: maybe there’s a place for a mobile social network as a support group for those suffering from bill shock :-)

Privacy settings for location-based services?

  • Andrew: you need to provide it, but you’ll probably find that no one uses that feature
    • What’s the minimum age? We copied what facebook do: 13
    • But it depends on the context of the network
  • Priya: have to provide a social fuzzy location — otherwise it seems too freaky
  • Jen: in terms of photos, people want to upload exact location but keep it private
  • facebook privacy settings are quite granular, but possibly too detailed for anyone to understand
    • Josie: facebook ran into problems with data protection as it wasn’t clear that young people could understand the various settings — still an ongoing case
  • if you support fireeagle, you have to support specific levels of granularity of location — cannot release data that is too detailed

Metrics — what’s the most important thing that you’re measuring that shows the health of your business

  • Andrew: engagement, rummbling a place, rating a POI
    • iPhone app is 3-4 times higher than online
  • Sean: how many more people using this week?
    • figuring out ways to use virality
  • Priya: number of flirtograms
    • all about getting people from first use through to first paid item
  • Jen: churn, defined by active use and returning users, month on month, year on year
  • Christophe: click through rate, love

Setting up a working group to share location amongst mobile social networks

  • Andrew: not sure what the name is yet, but have been talking to 5 or 6 other network — about 20 million users in total

Combining social networks with serious applications

  • Andrew: 37% on a social network in US; Korea has 87% — waiting for critical mass
  • Priya: working with BBC mobile
  • Sean: causes, e.g tsunami-related, etc.
    • not quite at the phase on mobile where you can start to open platform — still fighting over getting users
  • Met Office have just launched a Mobile TV channel, ad-funded

Summing up

  • Jen: choice
  • Priya: friends are overrated :-)

Next event

  • next event probably second Monday in January
  • also opportunities to sponsor the podcast…

1 comment:


Nice write up. Tom Hume also did the honours. I wasn't overly impressed by the format - and I was in it! Momo needs stronger focus on specific issues. Most of the audience know the core facts, trends, ideas etc. It needs better prepped moderators, more interaction, clearer focus and an element of 'summing up'.