4 Little Known Social Media Game-Changers

by Brett Pollard on January 6, 2010

Are these trends included in your social media strategy?

Greek philosopher , Heraclitus observed circa 500 B.C., “The only thing that is constant is change.”  While it appears this has been true over the last 2500 years, the speed at which change occurs is increasing dramatically.  Social media is no different so don’t blink or you may be left following the rest of the industry at every turn.  While many industry insiders may recognize the following social media “game-changers”, it’s important to understand the impact of each one as social media strategies continue to evolve (as they should).

1) Real-time

Mobile – Smartphone market share continues to surge.  This means more and more people are able to update their social status anytime and anywhere.  This includes pictures, video and geotagging (see below).  Good experiences and bad experiences can now be immediately documented.  Restaurant reviews can be posted while a customer is still sitting at the table.  That same customer could upload a picture of dirty bathroom conditions at your place of business.  Consumers can brag about the great time they are having at a nightclub while including audio, video and/or location.  It’s important to understand this shift to real-time mobile in order to capitalize on the opportunity.

Search – Much has been written and discussed regarding real-time search in the past few months.  With both Google and Bing striking deals with the major social networks, information disseminated through social media can appear in real-time within standard search results.  What kind of impact will this have on your business/brand?  Will you find ways to promote events as they are happening?  How will this change marketing and PR strategies – especially when there is breaking news or a new product/service launch.  In a previous article I demonstrate how easy it is to have your results show up instantaneously – Google’s New Real-Time Search is Too Easy.

Here is another example of real-time search from Google’s blog.

2) Geotagging/Location-Based Services (LBS)

Geotagging is merely the process of adding geographical information to  various types of data.  This allows for social media to include location-based services (LBS) to the user experience.  Not only have Facebook and Twitter recently added LBS to their standard features, but there is a whole new breed of LBS networks quickly emerging such as Foursqaure, Loopt and Brightkite.  This is a promising trend for small businesses trying to monetize their social media efforts.

What’s clear is that location is not about any singular service; rather, it’s a new layer of the Web.  Soon, our whereabouts may optionally be appended to every Tweet, blog comment, photo or video we post. – Pete Cashmore, Mashable

The increased use of smartphones has aided in the explosive growth of the LBS industry as well.  This enables friends to locate each other geographically, parents to locate their children and businesses to connect with interested local consumers in the moment.   According to Gartner Research, LBS was a $2 billion industry in 2009 and growing fast.  If you haven’t considered LBS solutions in your social media strategy, now is the time.

The following 2 articles do a nice job detailing the potential for small businesses leveraging LBS technology.

Foursquare Shows the Business Potential of Location-Based Services – Techcrunch

7 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Take a Look at Foursquare – DuctTapeMarketing

3) Augmented Reality

There is a growing amount of excitement in both technical and marketing circles regarding the potential of augmented reality.  Unfortunately, the concept is confusing and often misunderstood.  Gary Hayes of PersonalizeMedia.com does a nice job of clearing up the confusion.

Information, 3D models or live action blended with or overlaid onto the physical world around us, in real time. A camera & attached screen is used to view the combination of real world and metadata or rich media. Devices or systems commonly used for AR include:

  • Mobile devices with inbuilt cameras such as iPhone, DS Lite, PSP or Android
  • A head mounted display HMDs (eg: glasses or futuristic contact lenses) attached to a wearable networked computer
  • A PC or Mac with webcam
  • A games console with camera accessory
  • A large TV screen with advanced Set Top box and Web cam
  • Others in development

Gary Hayes – Personalizemedia

This video is a nice example of how Yelp uses AR for the iPhone 3Gs.  Not only does it recognize the surroundings, but you get reccomendations from the user generated review content within Yelp.

In the following AR example, I demonstrate a new application from Ray-Ban called Virtual Mirror (full-screen is available on the toolbar).

Wouldn’t it be a great way of seeing a clothing item on your body before you make an online purchase?  What if you could create a viral social media campaign by allowing fans of a professional sports team to post virtual photos of themselves wearing the new team jersey design?  How about creating videos of your kids in a scene with their favorite cartoon characters?  Couldn’t you try placing virtual furniture arrangements in an empty room and then have your friends vote on their favorite layouts on Facebook?

This particular trend is perhaps the most exciting because the options are endless.  Early adopters will probably struggle to find great success due to public confusion, but it is starting to become mainstream already.  Recently, Esquire Magazine published the first augmented reality magazine issue.  I encourage you to view the video and perhaps even test the technology.  It’s an early effort, but you get a pretty good idea where this technology be headed.

4) Reputation Management/Personal Branding

It’s safe to say that social media will continue to have rapid growth in 2010.  As more individuals and businesses adopt it, there will be an increased need for reputation management.  Real-time search (mentioned above), blogs, review sites, etc create an environment where nearly everyone has a voice.  Furthermore, what others say about you or your business is usually archived by the search engines.  What do people see when they Google your name or the name of your business?  Do you have control of the content for the top search results?

In the coming years it will be imperative for professionals, businesses and brands to have a reputation management strategy.  Social media provides some wonderful tools for helping you accomplish this.  By building a strong social presence, monitoring what is said and engaging your audience you can make a pretty strong impact on your own reputation.

There are currently several enterprise-level reputation management services available.  However, most individuals or small businesses are forced to piece together multiple services in order to provide an affordable solution.  Expect to see new, less expensive services emerging in 2010 that will aid in reputation management for that particular market.

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