On his blog, Tristan Louis wrote 5 reasons why social networks can succeed. But what Tristan has described is much more than 5 reasons to succeed – he described the true essence of social networks software:

  1. Viral Nature
  2. Provides an Online Identity
  3. Enhances Knowledge
  4. Satisfies humans basic need to share
  5. Satisfies humans basic need to connect and communicate

A very good summary of what social networks are all about.

Tristan also wrote 5 reasons why social networks fail:

  1. Privacy concerns
  2. No real reward or penalty system
  3. Not granular enough
  4. Not integrated with other apps
  5. Walled Gardens

But I will add that there are 5 other reasons why social networks fail – all we have to do is negate the 5 reasons they succeed:

  1. If not viral in nature
  2. If it doesn't provide online identity
  3. If it doesn't enhance knowledge
  4. If it not good at allowing humans to share
  5. If it not good at connecting people and letting them communicate effectively

I really like how Tristan has defined the above elements of social networks and software. All of these principles are applicable as-is to mobile-based social networks/software as well.