Originally posted on January 17, 2011
Back in November I attended a conference held by one of our local Tech Incubator. The intent of this week long gathering was to promote entrepreneurship in the region and to celebrate and showcase the successes.
One of the things that stuck with me from this conference was the mantra of “Social, Local, Mobile“.
It really got me thinking about the massive technological shift of our times.
Plus, there will be a plethora of small/mid-scale start-ups that will drive their business being inherently dependent upon the Big social and local landscape. These start-up will find the niche services that the parent social/local giant fails to provide. This is already happening, with various start-ups ranging from analytics (Kissmetrics, Kontagent), trending and stats (various online trending/stats tools for twitter and other social networks). Then there is an entire eco-system of app developers for the social and mobile scene.
Venture Capitalist keep dumping insane amounts of money into social/local start-ups. I don’t necessarily believe that this is akin to the frenzy that we saw before the dot com crash. Meaning, well that a) the VC and investors are not stupid and b) whoever commands the impressions (tracking eyeballs) in the future controls the market share. And this is the reason why predominantly all social/local big names offer their services to the user for free. For now the user is paying with tiny bits of privacy, but that is a debate for another day.
Invariably the majority of these businesses will generate their revenue through ads, user generate ads at that. Google Adsense has been up and running for a while now. But now we are seeing the emergence of ads on the Facebook and LinkedIn networks as well. The mobile/local scene is going to follow suit. Plus there has been speculation in the industry that the big engines are going to start charging the customers at some point. This too has already started happening (LinkedIn Premium Account, Google Apps). However the bulk of the focus is towards gaining numbers and build a mass at this point
Bottom-line. If you are an enterprise or a recognized institution, then most definitely you already have a social media presence. (Unless you are Pentagon). Also odds are pretty good that you have a mobile version of your website and that you are looking to see how you can benefit from the localization phenomenon. Not to be confused with localization for languages.
If you are a medium to small business (also applies to big businesses), then you need to start paying attention towards these trends. Facebook has 500 million users and close to 200 million are on Twitter. Google is synonymous with search and Google adwords can target ads to your geographic locale. Honestly, hardly anyone in the age group of 18-42 advertises in the local newspaper anymore. That’s a fact. Smart-phone usage is becoming more commonplace and if you can pay a developer 400$ to create an app for you, which will make it easier for your customers to interact with your business. Then they will obviously love you for it. Also be on the lookout for how the whole “local” scene pans out. Advertising and discounts are a reality on Foursquare. Oh, and did you hear about Groupon and what it can do for your business?
On an individual front, well it’s highly unlikely for anyone to not have a Facebook account. But social media and interaction is much more than just Facebook. Use these platforms intelligently. Use, LinkedIn for networking and keeping abreast of what’s going on in your network. Twitter/Tumblr for microblogging and for keeping abreast of the topics of interest to you. Facebook to stay in touch with your friends and granma. Yes, she prefers Facebook over text messaging. Ditch your dumb Nokia phone for a smart phone and then incorporate all your social feeds on it! Catch the localization bandwagon to see what your friends are up-to or to pocket deep discounts. Also, use these engines to create your own brand. I see so many people mindlessly interacting on the social platforms with little or no thought given to their actions. Use these systems intelligently and efficiently. Inter-connect these systems by virtue of the API’s that are offered. So you do not have to update each and every one of the engines separately.
Finally, it’s the “Social, Local, Mobile” trend and it’s here to stay. You may choose to ride the wave or you may choose to ignore it and it will eventually hit you with a splash. More like a tsunami if you are a medium to large business. Just don’t say that no one warned ya.