First off apologies – I’ve committed the cardinal sin of blogging and blogged off for the summer…!
I’ve been intrigued over the last month or so by the amount of discussion and developments around “where are you” or the tweeting (or facebooking) your exact location.
Towards the end of August twitter blogged about its latest API making it an option for users to tweet ther longitude and latitude so that individuals know exactly where each other is tweeting from. Whilst, as the article notes, it could be interesting when you look at following response to a location specific event, or even following opinion in the neighbourhood it also would offer an amazing opportunity for brands to view regional insight that previously could have been difficult to track. The problem is how insightful would it ever really be? And is it yet more “social buzz / networing / word of mouth / reputation management” clutter that actually isn’t much use at all!
Take as an example a general election scenario. The government, using those posters willing to share their location could use real time tracking to see issues and glean insight to help them tailor conversation messages. Likewise brands can begin to compare keywords against regions to look at uplift by region (against geographic opinion or even test campaign beds) as opposed to across the nation in general – again giving digital that edge over offline buzz – its all so measurable!
That said when I look at my twitter account and the conversations I follow I dont know whether this could ever be valuable or what you could get. I sat in a meeting earlier today and pointed out to people that Twitter is a buzz word right now and not many brands are doing it well, simply jumping on the bandwagon (as they probably did with Facebook) because its the latest fad. Its perceived to be free therefore why shouldn’t they be “trying” to use it – regardless of the fact they have 10 followers and a mere 2 tweeters. I wondered how long it would take for agencies to start throwing in the importance of conversation tracking by region (despite the fact most haven’t worked out how to value track a total universe conversation in the first place).
The location thing seems inevitable for take off. The “youth” are self-obsessed with highlighting their every move and using networks to create their own PR campaigns for their “self”. Gypsii is also surely a tried and tested example of how powerful a location based network can be. Apparently compatible on 350 handset devices (a reach of approx 1 billion) users are able to search using mobile GPRS for things of interest, friends, and events local to them, at that point in time. Huge in Asia but not seeing mainstreamuptake in the UK (yet) the interesting point will be if Facebook and Twitter can get their location uptake substantial enough to make market entry difficult for Gypsii and its competitors (Brightkite, Plazes and Loopt).
It will be interesting to see how the location debate unfolds, how adoption spreads (and within which demographics) then, finally, what marketeers think they can do (or effect) with that data….