Does Local + Social = New Commerce?

by Jay Deragon on 11/05/2010

It has been said that the last mile of social media is local. While we are witnessing a global explosion of all things social the real “catch” will be local. I used the word “catch” to imply the next activities from the human network is when local social catches on.

There are many developments which will enable “local social” to be the tipping point of further changes to market dynamics and increased value for the human network.

While new technology will enable local to be the next explosive growth in all things social the real value will come from what people discover from use of the technology and how it adds value to productivity, both personal and professional. Improving productivity is the backbone of any economy. After all the global economy trickles up and down based on the behavior of local transactions.

Emerging Technologies are Pointing to Local

Applications such as Brightkite, Foursquare, Gowala and Yelp are examples of finding places of interest. Apps like  Checkin Mania allow you to see places of interest from all four services side-by-side.

Checkin Mania is based on Google Maps, their site (here); you can enter a location and then see places of interest offered by all the above mentioned services. What next? Google Maps for Social Media?

Mobile adds to such schemes and when you consider the convergence of all things on-line to all things mobile then the logical conclusion is that all things are more than likely about to change yet again. Google, Apple and Facebook are aggressively pursuing the convergence of all things social, mobile and funneling them into “local” relevancy.

A TechCruch article states: In an August TechCrunch guest post, Alex Rampell, describes how Online2Offline commerce is a potential trillion dollar opportunity. The gist of it is that we spend most of our disposable income offline, in local stores, restaurants, and shopping malls. But companies like Groupon, Gilt, and other group buying and private sale startups are changing the money flow. People buy online, and redeem offline. But this is just the beginning of a perfect storm brewing that will change the way we discover, shop, and pay for things. Let’s focus on the main function each of these different startups provide to understand how bringing them together will ultimately disrupt multiple trillion dollar industries:

  • Facebook: provides the Social Graph, which is fast becoming a utility. Through its open platform, and APIs, we share more about our lives and our interactions online and on mobile every day.
  • Foursquare and Gowalla: provide location services and check-ins, along with game mechanics that motivate users to unlock badges, earn mayorships, and get discounts at local stores in the process.
  • Yelp: provides crowdsourced reviews of local businesses. Now also provides check-ins, and offers.
  • Groupon: provides discounted offers against a promise to increase sales and bring in brand new customers to local businesses.

What Does All This Mean?

Consider what is happening around you locally. You work, play, shop and socialize. What if those activities were enhanced by being able to do such things more productively and in association with managing transactions efficiently?

Local is where most of the actions and transactions are exchanged. Not recognizing how the internet is shifting to local means you and your business will miss the action and transactions.

The Last Mile is Transactional Productivity

If you look at how people are using the previously mentioned application you will find a common result, improved productivity. Productivity in terms of finding the right people, products, processes and knowledge needed to find solutions for satisfying business and personal challenges in real-time.  Productivity improves when innovation is made available to solve common problems more productively.

What if Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and Groupon were not five different applications and interfaces but one? What if all of these were one application integrated into a “social media card”? What if that card was in your wallet, on your phone and accessible on-line? Would the human network be able to connect, save, collaborate and create more social currency? Would a social media card enable the conversion of local social currency to economic gains for buyers and suppliers with less friction?

Conversion of social, local and technology that serves buyers and sellers more efficiently is indeed the last mile of all things social. We are not far away from the last mile and at the end of the mile is new commerce.

{ 1 comment }

Gabriele Maidecchi November 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm

After all isn’t technology finally meant to enhance the overall quality of our everyday life?
Technology allowed for social media expansion which will allow, ultimately and as you mention, for a final improvement of our productivity and life quality.

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