Here’s a fun Friday thought: Mobile social networks that are private, targeted to niche groups and location-based.
Shout’Em is a young company that makes such a solution. By bringing together several of the features we know and love about social networking, plus the added yumminess of user-controlled access and look and feel, Shout'Em is kind of like a mobile version of Ning (remember those guys?).
Users don't need to be tech-savvy to create networks. Shout'Em provides a set of templates for skinning and customization. An editor can be used to change colors, implement custom headers or logos, and there's a custom CSS option if you'd like to "completely turn it upside down."
The recent re-release of Shout'Em's product adds a handful of social networking tools (such as camera function, file uploads), as well as the optimization for mobile and location-based communications.
Here are some of the company's examples of things you might want to consider:
Local communities: Build a network for your City, College, Local area or Country. (This can come in handy when it's time to promote your business or organization.)
Niche networks: Start a network for anything you want. Sailing, fishing, wine, belly button lint--you name it. Add members, keep them updated, keep the ongoing conversation in your pocket.
Microblogging: As it was their original shtick, microblogging is, the company says, in their bones. Users can utilize this feature to make their network the bare bones of whatever niche they're representing.
Do You Crave Privacy?
Shout'Em's argument is that too many people are on popular networks like Facebook and Twitter. Shout'Em takes a different approach to all the noise by giving users the tools they need to create their own, relatively quiet social networks, quickly and easily.
Skeptical? Rightfully so, we'd say. It's a far cry from what's been owning the headlines these days, but don't let that stop you if you're in the mood for some very personal networking. Besides, mobile is a hot topic these days, and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere. In fact, Google's own Eric Schmidt says desktops will be obsolete in three years time, thanks to mobile.
Shout'Em's solution is totally free, includes mobile apps for iPhone, Blackberry (Android is pending) and you can get started here.