June 14, 2010
Social Media on a Sunday Afternoon: Only in the Bay AreaYesterday afternoon, I was having a smoothie with a friend from out of town near San Francisco's Delores Park. He is a technology entrepreneur who had an exit a few months ago and is now exploring ideas for his next gig. He said to me as I was checking into Foursquare: "I use it, I like it, I get it, but I use it as more of a social experiment. I already know where the friends I really care about are and don't need Foursquare or Gowalla for that." Or something to that effect.
He sees the real value which he feels is still untapped, is giving people a more targeted and relevant way to meet up with people you don't know, whether its for dating or new friendships. Foursquare doesn't solve that or at least I wouldn't want it to in its current form. That said, there are dozens of people who try to connect with me on Foursquare daily who don't know me, have never met me nor are likely to. It feels like stalking behavior and frankly, if they don't know me, I keep thinking - it's not Facebook, it's not Twitter, it's not MeetUp, it's not a dating service - get a life people.
While I don't entirely agree with my pal, the real value to me is when I'm at an event. Look at the tremendous benefit from geo-location services and sentiment at SXSW this year.....Twitter addicts used Twitter & Gowalla more during the week since it made more sense to and after they returned home, continued with their typical Twitter usage patterns. Sadly I did both.
For the most part, I don't find Foursquare as useful in my own city as I do when I'm traveling and often discover a friend is in town the same time I am, and in fact may be a few blocks away. Before he finished his sentence and within two minutes of my "check in", I received a text message from a friend of mine who was lounging in the park across the street from the cafe where we were sipping away at our smoothies. He was with a group of friends and would I like to stop by? And, oh btw, they were doing a social media experiment. Come participate.
Curiosity set in so off we went. Ten minutes later, we found them under an umbrella on a blanket with a massive wedding cake in the middle, covered with flowers. There was a large shopping bag sitting on the blanket with a sign that said "Want a piece of cake?" Their friends, who were honeymooning in Belize had a hashtag set up which they were tracking from....yes, Belize. As for the exercise, people stopped by, had a piece of cake and said kudos & congrats on Twitter using this particular hashtag. It was a fun and creative exercise using social media to send love and congrats through a "device" to people you never met sitting many miles away on a beach.
I had a piece of their wedding cake and said hello. How? Foursquare met text messaging which met a phone call which met Twitter using a hashtag which met a bunch of folks in Belize which then hit Facebook updates all in a matter of ten minutes. Only in the Bay Area my friend, only in the Bay Area.
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While I agree with your point, your friend makes an interesting case. During the course of a normal work week, most of us know where our friends are: at work. Tools such as foursquare and Gowalla, in my opinion, are really enticing platforms when it comes to the weekend, casual activities/events outside of the 9-to-5 day, etc. That's when monitoring foursquare for updates gets interesting, and friends will likely want to stay current with what others are doing in case they want to meet up (or whatever). Regardless, foursquare and Gowalla are uncovering the powerful potential of viral marketing and the online-usage-driving-offline-visits theory.
Posted by: Cory Grassell | Jun 16, 2010 6:34:21 AM
Yes and what will be really compelling is when there are services layered on top of Foursquare and Gowalla so you can get even more relevant information from a SMALL group of friends you trust about a venue. Yelp is not useful for people with discerning tastes for example nor can I trust that a recommendation for a romantic restaurant from a 20 year old will be the same one I would be interested in yet how would I know anything about their data on Yelp nor would I want to take the time to know.
When trusted sources and new apps come together on platforms like Twitter and geo-loco services, it will become extremely useful.
Posted by: Renee Blodgett | Jun 18, 2010 11:17:21 AM