Social Networking App Developers: Go Niche, or Go Home

August 16, 2016 - 2 minutes read
Apps like Music.ly give a glimpse at the future of mobile social networks.

Apps like Music.ly give a glimpse at the future of mobile social networks.

Instagram for photos. Snapchat for goofing off. Facebook for letting Mom know you’re still alive. Social network startups have changed a lot since the days of MySpace, and the trend for app developers is clear: niche services win out over all-purpose networks.

The “social network-ization” of popular music video sharing apps like Thriller and Music.ly support this, and show how multiple social network startups can survive and thrive on mobile — without trying to be “the next Facebook” or “conquer the world.”

For Chicago iPhone app developers, the key isn’t emulating existing tech giants. Instead, startup founders should look to niche, underground communities for inspiration. Anywhere you can find a group of people with a shared interest, you can build a tool that helps those people connect and share the thing they enjoy. Yes, it’s easier said than done — but it’s far more realistic a goal than building the next unicorn.

Another trend worth watching is the race for fun, quirky services that appeal to generation Z. Snapchat is the gold standard for this type of mobile app, but there are plenty of other examples (Yic Yac, Music.ly) to watch for inspiration. All these startups have the same thing in common — doing one thing extremely well, and providing a place for groups to communicate without being “spied on” by parents or unwanted peers. Anonymity is increasingly very important to young users, as the glamor of oversharing has begun to wear off. For generation Z, niche networks that value fun and privacy above all else will be the big winners in the next year’s crop of mobile app startups.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,