The concept of marketing to people based on where they are at any given time took a big leap forward as Facebook and Twitter recently announced the introduction of geolocation features to accompany user posting activity on their services. Combining their efforts with those of the already established players in the space such as Yelp, Foursquare, Latitude, and Gowalla, it seems that 2010 will be a year of great experimentation for this feature. Time will tell whether marketers and application developers can make this feature useful enough to consumers that they will want to enable it. However, it seems likely that we will soon see software platforms that allows us to monitor social media for people who are nearing our location and message to them thereby combining real-time search with real-time marketing.
We are only a baby step away from a day when a retail store can monitor the locations of it fans and followers and send them a little announcement of a special they are running today on that brand of running shorts you like to buy from them. Or perhaps your favorite restaurant by the sea can know that you are driving nearby and message you that the sunset looks great tonight and you have to come see it from their deck. Used well, this capability could be appreciated by consumers and could create additional reasons for users to want to fan and follow their favorite businesses.
However, it is not difficult to imagine this capability being over-exploited in intrusive ways such that users will flock to their account settings to turn it off. Not mention the fact that letting the world know where you are at any given point in time has its own drawbacks to our precious anonymity and privacy. I’m intrigued by these new capabilities and will be anxious to see how they impact our digital lives in 2010.
I’d be eager to know your thoughts on geolocation features in social media.