The key to social media platforms, of any variety, is the user base. Phase one of any social platform launch is "how do we encourage users to join, and how do we keep those users interacting enough to stay, and encourage more users to join". It's the social media circle that marketing agencies add by default into pretty much every web project produced since 2000.
The problem with social media, from a company point of view, is that you have to maintain the user base. With traditional software models people typically pay a license to use your product. Making changes to it is risky, but you essentially know how to shape your product roadmap, and how your buying customers are going to react. With social media every change of functionality is a test of your customer base.
They joined your site / use your application / manage their profile all because it's social. There is a social investment created. Profiles mature, people record their interactions, their scores, their achievements. Any change to your platform HAS to be backwards compatible; otherwise you are throwing away all the credit that has accrued from your users actually using your system.
Online games almost always feature a competitive friend ranking system, with platforms like Facebook now allowing aggregation functionality for non-Facebook based gaming (look at Candy Crush as an example) it is incredibly easy for applications to pull your friend list and create a points comparison scale, or an achievement ladder. The users buy into this social aspect. Developers and marketing have changed their mindset to make this a goal in playing the game. You can't mess with it. As EA recently found out.
EA learns to hard way
EA Games recently took control of the Scrabble game from Mattel. Their first move was to refresh the game with new functionality that erased the history of the players. This caused outrage in the customer base as people had been encouraged to invest time and money in this game, improving their scores, and generally creating a richer account, with depth of statistics. This was EA saying 'we don't care about your data'. Why build a rich profile with a history you are proud of, if a company can just erase it with a software update?
They also changed the functionality of the game, but not everyone is going to like all your feature changes, that is just part of the product lifecycle.
The worst thing about this? EA could have probably written an ETL process to migrate the account information into the new database format for the new revision of the game. They just didn't think it was important enough.
You can read more about the EA story on the BBC website:
A recent report from Arieso shows the changing trends in mobile device usage. Interestingly Smartphone users now consume more data traffic than Tablet users. This is based on a top ten list of devices, order by data usage volume.
The report digs into detail around mobile usage for devices by brand and device type. It also looks at regional fluctuations on usage which give some interesting insight into global data consumption trends.
What's quite interesting from my point of view is the trending of device consumption.
Users of the iPhone 5 demand four times as much data as iPhone 3G users and 50% more than iPhone 4S users (the most demanding in the 2012 study). However, Samsung Galaxy S III users generate (upload rather than download – photos, videos etc.) nearly four times the amount of data than iPhone 3G users, beating iPhone 5 users into third place on uplink data usage behind the Samsung Galaxy Note II. And in the rapidly growing tablet market, Samsung Tab 2 10.1 users have asserted their dominance - demanding 20% more data than iPad users.
This information is all based on the user operating the device, but in my experience there are considerable differences in data usage based on mobile OS (and specific version of the OS) and mobile hardware. Saying that an iPhone 5 user is a heavier user than an iPhone 4 user based on the handset is inaccurate. What else is the iPhone 5 doing in the background over the iPhone 4. A considerable amount of network traffic is not generated by the user, or is specifically user initiated.
Think about what happens when you turn on Google location services, or the Apple Facetime service polling monitor. Both of these services are continually polling against the network and location based data systems.
This is not user demand, but device and service demand. I haven't been able to work out from the report yet if this is addressed.
Also if this trend continues, does this spell the demise of the Tablet market, as users become more comfortable with mobile handset browsing?
A full article is here, along with the report: http://www.arieso.com/news-article.html?id=138
This is a recent example of how a UK retailer, HMV, experienced issues, either of a pricing, technical or communications nature then managed to completely mis-manage the situation and rather than fixing it actually damaged their brand more than the initial error did.
The other day I got a comment on a Blog article from a reader. The reader asked "What should I study in college to get started with ColdFusion?".
On one hand this is a massively open question, on the other I'd quite like to expand it even further.