Globalization has been the headline for years as it’s changed the face of communication, finance, business and society. But it’s not a stand-alone phenomenon; it’s totally dependent upon mobility. Constant movement from place to place has made the last few decades frenetic. In fact, we live in an era of supermobility.
Today I was in a meeting with a number of consultants to a very large technology company. Their job: market research, essentially. They called to ask me my thoughts on the media and technology world, in particular as it might play out in the next five or so years. They were responsible for helping the Fortune 50 company navigate an increasingly complicated world. I love these kind of free association tasks, because while it's not easy to be right, it's also pretty easy to not be wrong if the questions are smart. I've been a student of technology cycles for a couple of decades, and often times what's directly in front of you is, in fact, the next big thing. So when I got this question: "What's the next big thing after social?" I didn't lose a beat in answering: "Location."
Facebook has just announced Places, the long-awaited feature that brings location-based functionality to the most popular social network in the world. Whether you’re a developer with a great app idea, a business with an interesting location marketing plan or just a regular Facebook user who wants to get involved with Places, there are a few details to note before you start using Places. The feature is fascinating, but it still has its limitations. And our guide isn’t without caveats, especially for users. If you’re ready to start playing, here’s what you’ll need to know about Places.
PepsiCo is making a strong push to reach out to consumers on their turf. In the next two months, the Purchase, N.Y., beverage and snack food company plans to roll out a partnership with location-based social networking company Foursquare and to launch its own geo-targeting mobile application, Pepsi Loot. Both programs, when activated by consumers, will let the app's users know when they get close to Pepsi-selling restaurants and fast food chains, such as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Arby's. When they stop by to pick up a drink, Pepsi will reward them with points that can be redeemed for a free music download from artists such as Neon Trees and Katharine McPhee.
PEPSICO wants to sell its customers sodas whether they are near a grocery store, a restaurant or a gas station. With a new partnership that weaves its loyalty program into the location-based network Foursquare, PepsiCo gets a live notification when its customers are close to those sites, and can present offers that get them into the stores.
For all the talk about Foursquare, one of the coolest features that gets very little buzz is the Tips area. Here, you’ll find suggestions about venues from other users of the service. And if you’re friends with a user who has left a tip, you’ll get a notification with the tip on your iPhone when you check-in somewhere close by. The History Channel has decided to make use of this feature in an interesting way.
With its game mechanics and spunky badges, Foursquare could easily be mistaken for a frivolous mobile application with little to no value for businesses. As the startup races to the million member milestone, however, nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve already written about Foursquare’s savvy relationships with major media and entertainment brands and even talked about how it’s changing the world as we know it. In this post, we’ll delve deeper into the big brands and businesses that are experimenting with the platform and finding success with location-sharing.
“Check-in” companies that were all but unheard of a year ago are making noise due to the simple game mechanics and competitive element they added to their start-ups, which took social networking into a new, location-based direction. Now, the youthful founders of this new breed of start-ups say that checking in – created as a solution to “social networking fatigue” – could in turn lead “check-in fatigue” if people do not find novel things to do with this location data.
I didn’t write about the big location war at SXSW (between location-based apps like Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Brightkite, Whrrl, and others). Why not? Because, well, MG Siegler at Techcrunch has been. But I did participate, and took notes and now I’m looking at what’s next.
Last Monday night in Austin, about 200 people were milling around the bar at the Driskill Hotel, an unofficial headquarters for the name-badge-infested horde attending the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference. And just after midnight, about 70 people in different parts of the gorgeous relic of a bar stood up and began moving quickly toward the exit. Where were we all going? To the CollegeHumor party around the corner. How did we know it was time to go there? Because our smartphones told us so.
Beginning Thursday, latte addicts who visit Starbucks outlets can get more than just a caffeine fix. They will also be rewarded on Foursquare with a barista badge. Location-based mobile services like Foursquare are at the cutting edge of a transformation in the way offline businesses and their customers interact, by breaking down the barriers between the physical and the virtual.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that everybody makes predictions at the end of a year about ‘the big thing for next year’. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. And sometimes you only really start to notice trends and change when you are in them. In social media it is becoming clearer and clearer that the big thing for 2010 is location-based tools.
By now many marketers have probably played around Foursquare or Gowalla or know someone who has. For the uninitiated, these are location-based mobile applications that allow people to "check in" from stadiums, bars and bookstores and compete for "mayorship," collect badges and share tips. They are practical, addicting and lots of fun. Users of these services number in the hundreds of thousands today. That's small by national advertiser standards, but it's significant for many local advertisers, which are offering discounts to frequent visitors and offers to people who are physically nearby. This is a trend in local marketing worth noting because it promises to give national advertisers the opportunity to conjure up or attach to an emotion among smaller niche groups.
There’s an absolute eruption of activity around location-based services right now. Companies are getting funded left and right, new ones are popping up daily, and certain ones are seemingly starting to take off. But for a number of them, there’s a very big wall looming. And the more popular they get, the quicker they’ll reach it. A few weeks ago, our own Jason Kincaid wrote a post about how Facebook is poised to take over the geolocation space. In it, he makes a number of good points, but there’s one that’s particularly interesting to me. “At most, there are probably a few dozen people who you’d like to share your location with,” he writes. Overall, that’s likely true to a varying degree depending on who you are, but it points to a larger problem I’m starting to notice with these location services: The more people you follow on them, the less useful the service is. This is location’s social paradox.
We are witnessing a profound change in the media and advertising industries due to the emergence of social media. Companies that did not exist ten years ago, like Facebook and Twitter, have captured significant share of the attention economy from traditional publishers. Underscoring this trend is the fact that at the same time that Businessweek was selling for less than $5 million (plus assumption of debts) to Bloomberg, Foursquare’s pretty cousin Gowalla drove up Sand Hill road and collected $8.4 million for a minority stake. Amidst this disruption, media companies are chasing after “their” audience in order to continue to broker the attention of that audience to marketers. But just at the moment that media has mastered the art of blogging, search engine optimization and CPM yield management, they are now faced with a new set of consumer behaviors that elude their programming faculties: mobile devices, location-based services and the social graph.
When we first wrote about Foursquare back in March it had just hit the web scene at SXSW and was taking the social media community by storm. We instantly saw the potential of a location-based service based on your Twitter network with an added layer of social gameplay.