I was talking with my therapist the other day about relationships. It seems we have a love-hate relationship with relationships. The grass is always greener. Your girlfriend’s boyfriend is cuter. What’s happening somewhere else is imminently more interesting than what’s happening right here.
Am I right? The next time you’re in a public place take a look at what people are really doing. A lot of them aren’t really with the people they’re with. They’re on their “phones” but they’re not really talking to anybody. They’re tapping into their “phones” and telling lots of people who aren’t with them where they are and how they feel about it.
Why do we even call it a phone anymore? Nobody calls anybody.We email, text and tweet. And now we check in. We want to connect, but in a way that we can control, without the inconvenience of really talking to someone.
No matter how rude that is, it’s real.
Looky. There are 4 billion mobile phones in the world. Everyone likes to talk about themselves and we all want to think there are lots of people out there who care where we are and what we are doing. Location-based networks like FourSquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Yelp and Facebook Places feed the narcissism and voyeurism in all of us. They also help businesses with the type of promotion that has always been most effective - personal endorsement. If I’m at Whiskey Kitchen and I ‘check in’ on FourSquare or Facebook Places, everyone I’m connected to (and have given permission to) will know that I’m there. If I leave a comment that I love the seared tuna, or that Mimi is my favorite bartender, that registers with my friends as a personal recommendation and carries a little weight.
The location-based space is getting a little crowded and confusing which is what happens with all new technology and media formats. But don’t let that scare you. The basic premise is that you can easily tell people where you are and what you like - or dislike - about where you are. And you don’t have to commit to a series of phone calls in order to do it. On the flip side, you can also check to see where your friends are. So you walk into a crowded bar, pull up FourSquare and find out that guy you have a crush on is on the other side of the room. With another girl. Oh well. At least you know.
So here’s a question…how do you know which location-based networks are right for you and your business? Here’s what I think…
- Have a Facebook fan page with thousands of likes? Stick with Facebook Places. It lets you tell people where you are and who you’re with.
- Are you a restaurant? Don’t ignore Yelp. It has critical mass in the restaurant world.
- Are your clients interested in gaming and competition? Try Gowalla and FourSquare.You can earn badges or pins and become mayor!
Location-based social networks should only be a small part of your overall social strategy at this point. On the Social Media Hierarchy of Needs, it’s level 4 (and if you are an avid reader of this column you might notice that I went from level 1 last month to level 4 this month. Deal with it. It’s my column. I’ll get to level 2 next month.) If you want to get a little further down the road on a broader strategy, check out the Potluck Guide to Social Media which is free and open to the public for only a short while longer at southeasttourism.org.
So here’s the question…Does anybody care where you are? I do. And I’d like you to be right here with me, honey pie. If you’ll check in on FourSquare maybe we can find each other. I’ll buy the first round. Oh wait, there’s my ex over there. I’ll be right back.Share Article