- March
Posted By : Adrian Chan
Social logics of mobile social apps

It’s been a very long time — going on six months — since I’ve had the time and presence of mind to blog. My apologies to anyone who gave up long ago on my coverage of social interaction design topics. I have been busy at a startup and when I’m busy, I tend to become single-minded about it. Plus the commute 😉

I’d like to see if I can get back into an irregular but not lackadaisical rhythm — let’s call it sloblogging — of posting on social tools, their design, and social uses.

So, without further ceremony, I’ll start with a few thoughts on the social logics of social apps. I’m new to these, so please pitch in.


The logics of social interaction around mobile anchor on the individual, extend presence to friend-social and peer-social, and may be articulated by means of social actions (gestures, sentiment), communication, structured chronologically (simple) or by rules (eg games).

  • Personal
  • Social with friends
  • Social with social circles
  • Communication
  • Social action
  • Live feed
  • Game

Modes of interaction

Mobile apps, like social web experiences, are designed to capture participation and to facilitate use. Let’s call those production and consumption.

  • A mode of production
    • Capturing user activity and actions
  • A mode of consumption
    • Enabling user browse, search, view

Outcomes and value

The “value” produced, as in social web, is not only “utility” but also social (perception, relations, belonging, identity and all that good social stuff).

  • Outcomes of personal are utility and ease of use, as in personal utilities and other tools designed to make life easier (cough)
  • Outcomes of social with friends are recommendations and friend encounters, social coordination with friends
  • Outcome of social with social circles are peer and affinity grouping around shared interests, eg related to places and happenings
  • Outcome of communication is actual content using the naturally compelling features of talk and expression, which result in activity
  • Outcome of social action is simplified communication that often says all that needs to be said but using gestures that are the same for everyone, so easily aggregated and tracked (words cannot be tracked)
  • Outcome of live feed is higher degree of attentiveness for those who live in feeds, and a better interaction model for real time or near-real time events
  • Outcome of games is magnetic attraction among some kinds of users, and if done right a compelling pitch to venues and vendors, who recognize the success of mobile social games and apps even if they don’t use them


Implications of these value propositions, then, would point to the common features of mobile social apps.

  • Saving, favoriting, adding
  • Simple sharing (out to other services such as email, twitter, facebook)
  • Check ins
  • Feeds
  • Gestures
  • Sentiment expressions
  • Commenting and messaging
  • Games, badges, achievements, leaderboards
  • Aggregated views of activity: local, friends, social, community, players, public

These seem to capture the basic logics of mobile social use cases. For design purposes then, mobile apps should execute well around a chosen logic. User behaviors can then coalesce quickly into social patterns and practices.

Have I missed any?



  • Thanks so much for this post. There is very good and helpful information in this post. Keep up the good work.
    Also go to the link below to know new mobile application for iPhone and iPad, named ‘GlobalSosurcer’.
    Outsourcing Value Assurance

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