This week I did something monumental. I started using two social platforms that previously were completely foreign to me. Well, I knew what they were – I was aware they existed, but I had never touched them, seen the mobile app or really dug in much to what they were all about. One was a matter of barrier to entry. I have an Android mobile phone and tablet, so I physically couldn’t use Instagram until today. The other, Path, I was basically avoiding simply to avoid.
I typically don’t dive into new social networks (for me) unless I plan on actually using them, and trying them out to the fullest extent without blowing my brains out. I’ve tried certain networks and removed myself from them in the same week, and others I’ve stuck with because I either see value or I just enjoy them. Yesterday and today I tried a new social channel, and both just might meet both criteria. The two mobile apps are useful and also easy to use, and both have the entertainment factor.
So, why the hell would I want to extend myself into yet another social network? Well, why not?
Instagram has been wildly popular for a while now, the king of photo sharing networks. But, it has only been available on Apple products. Now that I, along with all other Android users, can join the party, I expect this to grow exponentially (that sounded wrong – no, I don’t think it will grow exponentially because I am now on it). Android users like myself have been making fun of it to no end, only because it was something we couldn’t have. If you can’t beat em… make fun em. I still think it’s silly that by clicking a button, people portray their photos as some masterful piece of art due to some color variances and a border, but nonetheless, that’s part of why it got so popular, right? Everyone’s images just look better than anywhere else. There’s your cool factor.
On to number two: Path really impressed me with how darn clean it is. The look, feel, and use-ability is so smooth. There is no nonsense. This helps a newbie to Path like myself learn how to use the app in about 2.5 minutes. There really isn’t much to it. I really like how you can use it as your social sharing hub. Post a Facebook status update, check-in on Foursquare, share a photo on Twitter… or, you can do all of those things at one time. And, along with sharing it on the other networks, your post is also shared as part of your ‘path,’ which is literally a vertical map of where you go and what you do in life. And if you don’t want to broadcast something all over the socialsphere, you can choose to only share it on Path. There is a privacy factor I like – your path isn’t as publicly accessed as other networks, and you can pick and choose your friends on path that see your progression.
Another great thing about Path and the social sharing function- it’s a one-way street. You share out your posts to selected social networks, and then it posts on those respective networks. But, you don’t get bombarded with the feed from those networks of other people on your path. Once again, very clean. If you want to stay up on your Facebook newsfeed, go to Facebook. But if you want to just add something to Facebook and not deal with it later, share it from Path.
These two networks have something distinctive in common. They are both pretty much completely mobile. Yes, they have websites, but the network itself does not sit on the world wide web as does many other social platforms. There is very minimal functionality to the actual website of both channels – mainly just for updating your profiles. Posts themselves from Instagram do get urls for sharing, but you can’t navigate anywhere else from the post.
I like them. I think I’ll stick around and try both out for a while. Instagram does have some value for businesses to set up accounts and share beautifully one-click-edited photos, but at this point I don’t think Path has any real benefit for a business. Maybe more to come on that one. At least that’s what I’ve discovered thus far.
Like any social networks, it’s a wait and see game. Instagram has already proven itself to the world, but Path has not. Now I hope they can prove themselves to me.
We’ll see if I’m still using these in 6 months. My guess…probably. There is just too much cool factor.