Today, the darling of socia media, Twitter, announced it would be adding a geo-location feature to tweets. Currently, all the early adopters are fawning over Foursquare, before that it was BrightKite but Google Lattitude never really got on the map (no pun intended). There are also lots of other location based social networks and apps.
Geo-location based social networks are on the rise. Is this the next wave in social networking? Venture capitalist, Fred Wilson, sees a lot of value in location based social networking. Personally, I love using location based social networking apps for three reasons:
1. I like discovering new places in whichever city I’m in.
2. Location based social networks let me see which places my friends are going. I could meet up with them if I’m in the neighborhood or going back to #1, discover new places I probably wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
3. Location based social networks help me meet like minded people, say at a web conference or tech event.
However, everyone I know who isn’t an early adopter is not so in love with this idea. The mainstream think it’s scary, creepy, mundane or don’t see the value in it. Case in point: when I was in Austin for SXSW Interactive in 2008, I used Brightkite. My phone had never gone off so many times in my entire life. Brightkite was sending me notifications of other people in the tech industry were checking in to all the bars, hotels, cafes etc. I haven’t received a Brightkite notification since then.
It’s not to say that the mainstream won’t embrace location based social networks one day. I’m sure they will. Remember the days when it was unheard of to put your picture on the internet? And now it’s shifted to where it’s normal (almost expected) to use a real picture of yourself as an avatar, as well as post pictures of yourself and your friends. As social networking sites have lifespans, attitudes towards the web and web activity shift. From a marketing perspective, because the mainstream hasn’t embraced location based social networking means businesses should quickly jump at the opportunity to be on these networks. Why? It’s these early adopters who already on these networks that are more likely to talk about you, share tips about your business and pass the word along to their friends.