The trend has been there for several months – my close friends and I almost stopped posting personal updates on Facebook or Renren (Chinese version). Instead, we share them through “Moments” function in a mobile app called “Wechat”. It happened spontaneously and I’ve been wondered why. Here are my two cents after some examinations.
The fundamental difference between Facebook and Wechat is the mechanism of communication. Though Facebook has message function, which allows people to talk and share privately, it is a platform essentially. Wechat, on the other hand, is a SMS (short message service) at its core, similar to the idea of Whatsapp and Kik. In order to talk to each other, people have to find each other through mobile phone number or other account information, and mutually become friends. On top of sending messages, it allows group chat and has a space called “Moments” where people can share updates with their contacts. Thus, Facebook is a platform SNS with a channel function, while Wechat is a channel service with a platform capacity. How does these natures change our behavior? Why my friends and I chose more carefully what to show on Facebook comparing to those on Wechat “Moments”? Because with a more controlled and closer circle, Wechat is like “the home” social media, while Facebook could be “the city”. People feel safer and more relax to share personal ups and downs at home, and get used to pretend strong and beautiful among strangers. That’s just the nature of human being.
This leads me to think about all the other mobile-only social media applications, such as Path, Snapchat, the original Instegram, and Foursquare. Comparing to PC, mobile usage has the advantages of offering rich contextual information and real-time interactions. SNS big figures such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have all made their aggressive inroads into mobile social media market. However, these mobile-only applications have been able to take up a share through leveraging their special niches that match well with the advantages of mobile usage.
What are the mobile-only social media applications that you are using daily? Why you prefer them over Facebook app? Is SoLoMo really the future of social media? Share your thoughts:)
Note: Some of these applications cannot fit with the definition of SNS as defined by boyd and Ellison (2007), so I used the term “social media” application rather than SNS.