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Now that we’ve all got used to Facebook and Twitter and businesses are starting to realise the potential of social networking and talking to new customers directly there’s a new social revolution just about to hit the mainstream: Geo-location social networking.
This new form of networking has been made possible with the increase in GPS enabled smart phones and faster mobile connection speeds. We can now pin point our position on earth to within a few metres with our phones and we can use that technology to find interesting events, shops, restaurants and places of interest nearby. The geo-location social networks aim to take that a stage further by connecting people who are in the same area and allowing friends to connect to each other via maps.
So, imagine you’re on a night out in London, you’re meeting a few friends but don’t really know the best places to go – simply log into your phone and check the map. You’ll see where you are, recommended restaurants and pubs and even how far away your friends are. If one of the local bars has a special offer on you’ll get an update so you can get a few cheap drinks… while you’re at the bar a message pops up that a restaurant round the corner is offering free starters if you get there in the next 30 minutes. All of this can be worked through your phone and local businesses can connect directly to potential customers.
There are four main location based networks vying to get users and businesses signed up at the moment: Foursquare, Brightkite, Gowalla and Loopt. They have all had a lot of funding and offer similar features but each one has a slightly different focus. And don’t forget that with this much potential revenue and traffic the big guns are also going to be competing in this arena soon enough – Facebook, Google and Twitter all have location based services starting, in the pipeline or already working.
“Foursquare is a mobile application that is a cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide, and a game that rewards you for doing interesting things. Foursquare lets you “check in” to a place when you’re there, tell friends where you are, and track the history of where you’ve been–and who you’ve been there with. Foursquare challenges you to explore your city in new and fun ways by earning points, winning mayorships, and unlocking badges and specials for trying new places and revisiting old favorites.”
“Gowalla.com is a web site and, more importantly, an iPhone application that allows you to check in with your social network from where ever you are. When you use your phone, Gowalla locates you through GPS, then allows you to check in at the location, share a message about where you are and why you’re there and pick up virtual items.”
“Brightkite is the simple way to keep up with friends and places. It lets you see where all your friends are, so you can spend more time with them. You can also discover places in your neighborhood and meet other locals along the way.”
“Loopt is a mobile social-mapping service that lets you use the location of your phone to discover the world around you.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can use social networking and geo-location social networks for your business please contact us.