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Social Communities Evolve to Meet New Challenges

Mobile net users are more social than ever before but are still primed to use their handheld devices to fulfill ancient urges, a panel of mobile gaming and social networking apps said during a fireside chat at the 2013 GMIC Beijing.

The chat was moderated by Benjamin Joffee, CEO of Plus Eight Star, and included Joff Redfern of Linked in, Danny Oei Wirianto of Mindtalk, Andy Tian of Zynga, and Yong Wang of deNA China.

Redfern and Wirianto’s businesses are geared towards linking-up like minded individuals and professionals (in Linkedin’s case), while Tian and Wang are involved in the gaming industry, but each panelist said that the evolving notion of social networks plays a crucial role in their company’s business plan.

Mindtalk, based in Indonesia, is perhaps the most clear cut example.  It’s an app that hooks up individuals with similar hobbies and interests and allows them to chat in a common channel. It’s an especially useful tool given the geography of Indonesia, an archipelago made up of nearly 7,000 islands, Wirianto said.

“When people share interests and meet new people, they create a strong bond,” Wirianto said. “They’re literally hugging each other. They start talking about a topic, and they end up best friends. People are bonding around an interest.”

For Linkedin, the world’s largest social network geared towards professionals, the goal is to allow employers and employees to showcase their strongpoints and engage in useful exchanges, Redfern said. He used an anecdote to demonstrate the spread of Linked in:

“Our data shows there are 45 Linkedin users in Antarctica,” he said, adding that they were all researchers positioned there for various lengths of time. Linkedin became a valuable tool for them, he said.

The representatives from mobile gaming firms said that social networks played no less a role in their mediums.

Andy Tian likened the emergence of mobile gaming to an old-fashioned game of monopoly.

“ (it’s) Like the old days when we played board games together,” Tian said, “But, now we’re using mobile.”

He gave an example of a group of friends lounging around, all engaging in a shared game on their mobiles. It’s an increasingly common phenomenon, he said.

The panel ended on a discussion of the best ways to incentivize users to embrace mobile apps instead of browser-accessed versions.

Redfern said Linkedin has had the most success through emailing members and advertising its app on its website, but acknowledged the strategy is only appropriate for big players like Linkedin.

Wirianto added an assessment of the current status quo.

“The (user’s) attention span on mobile is short.” Developers must adapt or die, he said. For social communities, that means real time communication capability and  a graceful user interface.

Missing out on attending GMIC Beijing? Register now a Free Expo Pass for GMIC SV (full price: $100). Moscone Center, San Francisco. October 21-23, 2013.

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