I’ve talked a couple of times about the small insight I’ve had into the whole “social media thing”, really as an outsider getting peak behind the curtain.
Part of tonight’s dinner discussion turned into the use of location services. It seems only about a quarter of smart phone regularly use a location based application (Yelp, Google, Vegas Mate and so on) to get recommendations based on their location. I found that number surprisingly low, it’s one of the things I find most useful about my iPhone.
The next logical step is to turn it into more of a push rather than pull system. Enter check-in apps such as Foursquare. At the moment only a tiny fraction of smartphone users, something like 3-4%, use check-in apps to broadcast their location.
While I don’t use Foursquare or any of the similar services, I’m just not that interesting, but location broadcasts regularly show up in my twitter feed. And lets not forget, I’m in geek central today and this group is not a particularly representative it comes to these things.
So, what does a push location application like Foursquare give you? It connects you people you know in the same general area and gives you a chance to connect.
Tonight a couple of people who joined us found out about what was happening at Mesa when someone they follow checked in on Foursquare. This led to a Tweet and they changed their plans to join us. There is a lot of enthusiasm for that sort of location-based app and finding out more about them is on my CES to do list.
Within the social media community the use of location checking in is fairly high, and I think this brings us to one of the issues, people who consider themselves “Social Media Insiders” forget that not everyone does it their way.
It’s this navel gazing I talked about here.
There are significant differences between how people inside and outside SM (and as I said, I consider myself outside, being allowed to peek behind the curtain) use the tools that are available.
Facebook is primarily a network of your friends, people come to it with different interests. I don’t do Facebook much, but I’m getting that puts me in a minority. The reasons I don’t really do Facebook are almost all around intellectual property ownership.
Twitter on the other hand is something I do use and find very useful. It fills a slightly different role. It’s more about sharing subjects with people that interest us, rather than Facebook where the same level of news amalgamation does not happen.
The third thing is blogs, clearly I blog, and I blog in more than one place. I subscribe to both Social Media and non-SM blogs, and the way people outside SM use blogs is different. The best way I can put it is less information sharing and more story telling. A close friend used his blog to record his year long cycle adventure across the US and North Africa.
It’s about how people use the Internet, the differences between people using it to connect and people who are trying to make an impact or perhaps even a living out of it. Inside the Social Media world people get wrapped up in how it’s used by the industry (navel gazing), rather than how the real world uses it.
And the real world is where the majority of people, and therefore a majority of the customers are.
I’ve been thinking about this, and have some thoughts that are not fully formed yet. Tonight helped put some of them into some order, but I’ve along way to go until they are really coherent.
The real answer lies in asking other people. My first step in this was setting up a meeting with the head of social media at work next week, it promises to be interesting. I’m intrigued as to how return on the Social Media investment is being measured and the effectiveness of certain campaigns.
There has been a lot of talk of brand loyalty being reinforced through social media, but what does that mean in the real world?
Does my local Thai restaurant look at their Yelp ratings? (I just did they are pretty good, and I agree). I’ve no idea if the local coffee hut has a Facebook page, but if they do has it been worth the effort? When I go to the vineyard to pick up my wine selection next month I’ll ask what value they get from their rather active twitter feed.
The bottom line from these incomplete thoughts is Social Media has to have an off-line real world impact if it’s to provide any value to real world customers.
With out adding this value it really is a bunch of people telling each other how awesome this all is. No added value for the customer means they don’t need it and that makes it really difficult to monetize anything. Maybe I’m just too cynical in the cold light of day.
- Foursquare – we know where you are (russellimrie.wordpress.com)
- Wondering about Social Media? (relylocalnewbritainberlinct.wordpress.com)
- Watch Out for Social Media Potholes (socialmediatoday.com)