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Now you can create a social network using your phone

The next evolution of social networks involves customisable, targeted communities that share specific interests, as opposed to the one-size-fits all mega-networks that exist today. And these new networks need to be flexible enough to take advantage of the massive growth spurt reported that is happening on the mobile web.

These two trends have played perfectly into the hands of South African internet veterans, Nic Haralamobous and Vincent Maher who have just created and launched a startup called Motribe, which is “a platform that enables users, brands, agencies and publishers across the world to build and manage their own mobile social networks”.

In its first 24 hours, Motribe served just over 60 000 pageviews, 90% of which were on mobile. They served 1.7Gb of HTML and around 3Gb of images. The majority of the uptake has been in South East Asia, with a 55% male bias, while 80% of users are between the ages of 16 and 28.

Motribe was persuaded by the surge in mobile web use to create a network that is customised especially for the mobile phone, and which will work equally well on smart phones or feature phones. The developers kept the platform as simple as possible to enable anyone, the man on the street all the way through to the most sophisticated advertising agency, to build, manage and generate income from their very own mobile social networks.

The company has its eyes firmly set on groups such as sports teams, social clubs, church groups and even marketing campaigns. “People want to take their social networks with them wherever they go and stay engaged all the time”, says Maher. With Motribe, users can customise their networks to include features like chatrooms, photo sharing, private messaging and blogs, all created and accessed via the mobile phone.

The analytics function is impressive as well, using reports on data such as signups, photo uploads, blog posts and messages to create a well-rounded portrait of who your audience is and what kind of activities they are undertaking.

Motribe has a flexible pricing structure designed to cater for all levels of engagement, with basic packages starting at US$9.95 and Pro Packages at US$49.95.

Maher reports that “in terms of customer acquisition we have been overwhelmed by interest from brands and agencies, and while our primary target market is not South Africa we’re feeling confident that we’re going to have a lot of customers here. Obviously these things take time and we’re taking a long-term view”