Social Networks Marry Real World- BestMan? Mobile.
Welcome to 2010. The year when Social Networks get into early adulthood- and get married. To whom? The real world. FTW for sure. And sure enough- the best man will be the mobile device.
I don’t say this to promote Augmented reality. That I’ve already discounted. No- not given up (I think it is pretty cool) just time shifted- not for the next 6 months in 2010.
Why do I say so? Listen up:
- Facebook has more than 65 million members accessing it using mobile.
- 20 percent of Twitter streams originate from mobile devices
- In 2009, YouTube video watching through mobiles was up 52 percent- according to a study published in May by Nielsen.
These three social networks- pretty much rule the web world- and they are slowly but surely being mobility driven. Mobile is the BFF of Social Networking. But there’s one marriage that is long being awaited. That between the real and the virtual world. Tying the knot between real life interaction and virtual (mobile +web) presence.
In late 2007, while being on a panel at GSMA in Macau, one of the things I had felt and brought up was that location awareness could give a great boost to mobile marketing. Though many marketers did not have a great degree of success at the time (with limited bluetooth and SMS campaigns), I always had this hunch that the one obvious advantage of mobile over others is – ahem-mobility. And we finally see it happening now- with the convergence of Social and real life (location) and Mobile.
While Twitter plans to incorporate location based features soon; applications like Google Latitude and Loopt are already in this direction. The ability to connect with ‘friends’ based on location hyper targeting coupled with other triggers is a ‘no- brainer’ path that will be taken soon by many others.
Marketing dollars will aid the growth of such services- we the marketers are hungry for these things. Forever. Ah! The pain of dealing with yet another technology and yet another platform.
See again- I said ‘marketing’ and not just ‘advertising’. Though advertising is the obvious beneficiary as well.
Ad Networks like AdMob are already cashing in to the opportunity (and I don’t mean the Google way) by offering location based ads.
But speaking of marketing, services like Foursquare have been making waves (and I promise you the buzz around this service will almost be as much as Twitter had from 2007-2009 the next year onwards).
Of course you know Foursquare- don’t you? a location-aware app that lets users “check in” at venues in a number of cities. The opportunities for footfalls are immense. You could do coupons (opt-ins of course) to subscribers within a certain radius of a location (say restaurant or boutique); or you could run loyalty rewards for frequent patrons (called Mayors for some funny reason)
Foursquare is not alone. I struggle to find Asian examples (trust me they will pop up within a month or two of this post) but there are other popular ones like Rummble (an interesting story of already brewing competition here) and Gowalla.
Update on 7th feb 2010:
Just received a mail from Placepop about their offering too. In case you want to take them for a spin- you could try them free at the iTunes store
This is of course, not all. And there are at least a few solid Asian examples after all.
We saw Friendster acquisition by MoL, a company that will probably use the social network’s remaining audience base to promote m-commerce, micropayment led social gaming and what not.
All said and done- Mr Real World- it is time to say “I do” to Lady Social Network. The best man “Mr Mobile” will keep a close watch.