Are there app stores for social media? If yes, what is their role and why is it unique?
Yes, there are app stores for Social Media.
App stores are marketplaces for applications and services available for use with different social networking ecosystems. These app stores offer a trusted place to identify and buy applications to be used as a part of the organization’s social media strategy. These app stores have applications and services listed around categories with information about the product, the developer behind the application or service, ratings and reviews by the users, etc. Such a categorization and rating system allows users to select the tools appropriate for their social media strategy.
To understand the role of Social Media app stores, a comparison to mobile app stores will help. In the mobile market, we have seen app stores for iPhone, Android phones, Windows Mobile, Nokia phones, etc. Some of these app stores are completely controlled by the company behind the phone or operating systems or mobile networks. Some of these companies, like Apple with the iPhone, exert complete control over the applications that are allowed in their stores and their financial models. This centralized model, though undemocratic, allows the company to ensure the quality of the applications that can be used in the phones. On the other hand, other companies like Google adopt an open model, allowing developers to list their products without any restrictions and lets the users rate/review them to help other users, using a concept called crowdsourcing.
Comparatively, Social Media app store trends are still emerging. They are unique in the sense that these app stores, along with crowdsourcing, allows us to tap into our social graph (set of friends we have in our networks) to get trusted recommendations. Like in the case of mobile app stores, we see both a centralized model and an open model. In our experience, app stores implementing an open process are more trustworthy and can help businesses maximize their ROI.