March 15, 2012
Social Discovery apps lead the way in 2012
Over in Texas they’ve been in the midst of this year’s SXSW (South By South West) festival – the place where all the coolest new digital platforms go to show what they’re up to and try and grab a bit of the zeitgeist.
Of all the wares on show this year by far the biggest buzz is around a slew of new ‘social discovery’ apps that aim to take the benefits of the big social networks and really harness the power of mobile technology to give them another layer.
The likes of Highlight and Glancee rest on discovering people and information in your vicinity using the GPS capabilities of your smartphone. By matching you with what the system knows is in your local area they aim to bring a more personal way to interact with your surrounding community than was ever possible with a desktop browser based platform.
This is nothing new of course, Foursquare was a the breakout platform of a few years ago and were the first ones to really put location sharing into the public conscience and highlighted the idea of ‘checking in’ at your favourite haunts.
All of these platforms take the opportunities offered by geolocation and aim to deliver a richer view of the world around you and are trailblazers for the move of social networking from being a desktop to a mobile experience. What brands an retailers have struggled with however is how to leverage these new networks to drive revenue streams.
On first glance location based networking should be the Holy Grail for retailers – being able to reach out to people within a few hundred metres of your store is a powerful tool, particularly for small business struggling to compete with the brand power of the large supermarkets.
The next phase of ‘social discovery’ will surely be a move towards mCommerce services that take the benefits of existing networking platforms and link them directly with brands and then close the loop with purchasing benefits via the customer’s handset. In that way a physical retailer can not only benefit from vicinity marketing but also receive the rich data on its customers that was previously only available through eCommerce channels or expensive CRM and loyalty card schemes.
NFC has been hailed as the key to unlocking the power of smartphones for commercial opportunities – but in actuality the focus on a technology that is still anything up to two years away from public prevalence could be hindering mCommerce developments. The technologies to deliver this form of social marketing platform already exist; it’s just a case of harnessing them in a creative way that works for both the retailer and the end user to deliver tangible benefits.
Getting ahead of the game with platforms that can embrace NFC as and when it arrives but don’t rely on it for launch is a key principle we’re looking at right now – so watch this space.BACK TO ALL POSTS