Location-based everything

LocationNot so long ago it was all about globalisation. Well it still is … sort of, but it is also about location-based everything, especially in the mobile social networking media.

This trend in apps for mobile devices has been building over the last 12-18 months but it is now near reaching critical mass. Will it prevail? Only time will tell, but it certainly has a good shot at being the next big thing in social networking in 2010.

The arrival of GPS enabled devices on the scene, especially the iPhone with its superb capabilities, and tech-heads getting their beautiful minds around the full scope of possibilities those devices can offer can take the credit for the birth of location-based social networking.

So what is location-based social networking? It is essentially applications available for mobile devices that identify your location and show if any of your friends are currently in that area and consequently enables you to contact them immediately and facilitates you catching up with them ‘real-world’ given your physical proximity.

Such current applications include Brightkite, Loopt and Foursquare (which at the end of last year added 50 new cities, including Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), just to mention a few.

Such applications can also show you businesses and places of interest in that area: restaurants, cafes, service providers, museums, beaches and other activities.

Such applications also enable your friends (and others) to leave digital ‘footprints’. If they have been in that area previously and visited any shops, restaurants or other venues or used any services and decided to enter a recommendation or comment about their experience, you are able to access that information directly on your mobile device.

So, what does this mean for businesses in a practical sense?! Businesses will be able to create advertisements/offers that can be delivered directly to the mobile devices of people entering their geographical area. Given the nature of the media businesses will be able to customise such advertisements/offers depending on the day or even time of day.

Of course, like in any social media, trust will play a significant component in the success of location-based social networking marketing. It is likely that people will respond best to recommendations made by friends and people from their closer group of acquaintances before the public at large or messages posted by the businesses themselves.

There is also greater danger than ever in negative feedback building up about a business’ or locale’s offerings over time on such localised social networks, in effect discouraging new potential customers from visiting, as such information now will be available ‘real-time’ on mobile devices.

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