Can you believe we are getting close to February? This year is flying by but I think by years end, we will advance so far and some of it is already starting to bloom. Just the other week, we got a preview from some of the latest technology at CES, and also learned where social media is going to be shifting. In one of my first blog posts for 2010, I talked about where social media will likely go within the next year and decade, and one of the key components that I talked about was location.
If you’re asking yourself how location can become a social media, and are confused by it, it’s alright. It can be a bit intimidating and scary because you are basically letting people know where you are. However, like any social media services there are privacy settings to take a hold of. And these localized social media networks are going to come in hand in the real world, for both consumers and producers.
Of course to participate you’ll need a phone, preferably a smart phone (iPhone, Blackberry, Android, etc…). For the past month or so, I’ve been testing out a few of the newest, fastest growing, and most popular locations based social media apps on my iPhone. While they pretty much all just do about the same thing, one clearly stands out. FourSquare, which if it continues to go in the direction it’s going in, could soon be the next Facebook.
For me as the consumer this is a great tool. The free application is not just a social network, but it’s also a competition. I compete with other people in my area to obtain the most points. You get points for checking into a location or venue, whether it be the grocery store, the bus station, the place where I get my haircut, and just about anywhere you can think of. Unfortunately, right now you are just playing for bragging rights, however rumors are swirling that everyone could soon play for actual physical prizes. You also compete to become the “mayor” of a venue. You become a mayor by becoming the person to check into that location in the most in the past two months. I’ll come back to how being the mayor can be beneficial in just a bit.
Like any social media network, you’re able to find and connect with your friends and see where they are. This can come in handy. Take for example, you go out Friday night to a local club. You check in and it’s packed. You’ll be alerted once you check in, that you’ve checked into the same place as one of your friend, so if you wanted, you could look for them and meet up. Also when you check in, you can leave a recommendation so others can see when they check in, or you can check out to see what others who have visited have said before.
Wondering how businesses get into the game? Businesses can register online, and offer exclusive deals for FourSquare users. Most deals are geared towards “mayors”, but can be geared towards all FourSquare users. One example is that a lot of restaurants/bars give anytime happy hours prices to anyone who checks into the venue and shows they are the mayor. That attracts more people to businesses for these discounts, even though they are competing for them.
FourSquare is really on top of it when it comes to localized social media apps. There are similar apps like GoWalla, Loopt, and about a half dozen others, but this is the one to keep your eyes on.