Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday Three #3

Let's get rolling.

A big news item I saw on the National Association of Convenience Stores website was something I didn't expect to take this long: Facebook has launched a location-based media service.  Foursquare has been one of the biggest social media channels involving geographic locations, and Facebook needed to introduce a similar to keep up.  Facebook's new addition is called Deals and allows individuals to 'check-in' into stores and locations, and by doing so they make themselves available for rewards by the owners of these stores.

Reggie Bradford, the CEO of Vitrue, a social-media marketing firm, told the NACS website that Deals is “a massive validation of location-based marketing" and that it's “a huge sea change in terms of the way location-based services are going to hit critical mass fast".  Bradford cites that millions of Facebook users already use Facebook's Places tool, and with the widespread use of mobile devices for accessing Facebook, Deals could really take hold in the marketplace.

In terms of reaching consumers, this is a great platform.  Stores can reach their customers in a way they have never seen before, allowing for a connection to be made over the Internet even before the consumer enters the store.  With the growth of Places and of sites like Foursquare, many social media consumers are buying into the idea of sharing their location with friends and supporters: we've seen it used within friends, organizations and even politicians.  I think of a scene in the movie Minority Report.  Do you remember when Tom Cruise is walking through the Mall and all the stores scan his eyes, allowing the store to tailer their posters just for him?  I have no doubt that at some point, marketers will know who we are, what we've bought before and what we'd likely be interested in at some point in the future.  Deals is a step in that direction.  But will it work when consumers have to share it with companies?  I think it might, but it's hard to know.  Clearly, many social media users are not shy to sharing this kind of information but in an age of ever increasing skepticism, it's hard to know how comfortable individuals will be with giving this information to marketers.

It comes to an idea from Seth Godin: Deals is about permission marketing.  Users have to 'check-in' to stores through Deals, so the consumer is choosing to engage with the brand and allow the company to market to them.  As long as Deals remains permission based, I think it has great opportunity for success.

If you want to read the article yourself, you can find it here.

My friend Shaminda has some great thoughts on this very subject in his posting on this past Sunday.  He notes that the Deals platform is an important news item for Facebook, but equally important are their new partnerships "with companies like Loopt, Zynga, Groupon and Yelp, to offer mobile users a 'single-sign on'".  What do these partnerships mean?  To Shaminda, it means two things: if you can't beat them, join them.  And if you're the smaller guy, can you afford not to join with Facebook?

I think there is a lot of merit to both points.  The most interesting debate can be found with the second point: can you afford not to?  There is no arguing that Facebook is absolutely massive, and perhaps a bit more contentious to say they are the premier social networking site.  If the success if your company would be in intertwined with the success of your partner, you want to back the winning horse.  With Facebook being as strong as it is, and there is no major reason to think they will be dethroned soon, can you afford not to bunk up with them?  I don't think so.

Go ahead and read Shaminda's thoughts on this, it's a good read that makes you think.  I'm sure we'd both like to hear what you think.

On an aside, did you hear?  The Queen (and the Monarchy for that matter) are on Facebook now.  With a new group site, fans can now follow the Monarchy, events and news.  Want to be friends with the Queen?  Well, unfortunately you won't be able to be friends with Her Majesty, but this is an interesting example of how relationships and communications are changing with social media.  Read about the Queen and her presence on Facebook here.

The last year has seen the roll out of tens of 3-D TV technologies and models.  With the pile of movies coming out in theatres in 3-D, and the rising demand for 3-D technology at home, it's hardly surprising that manufacturers are looking for other avenues for this technology.  But have you ever looked at your phone and thought, 'yeah, I'd like my phone's screen to be 3-D'.  Well, neither have I but Sharp thinks otherwise.  It was announced this week on Mashable that Sharp will be launching 3-D phones late this year and early next year in Japan.

The phones look pretty pedestrian and from first glance, be easily confused with touch-screen and full-keyboard smart-phones.  However, the screens and technology are very different.  According to the article, the phones will feature 3-D screens that don't require glasses or anything, so you won't need to do anything different to use them then any other phone.  They will also feature top-of-the-line cameras and the platform for the next generation of mobiles games.

To me, this is a logical step for product development.  It might turn into other of those things we don't think we need, but it becomes a basic feature we expect from new products.  Don't think so?  Did you ever think you needed a colour-screen?  How about a built-in radio or MP3 capability?  Touch screen?  High quality camera (or any camera at all)?  Video conferencing?  But when you go to buy a phone now, these are features we look for and demand from our phones.  We've seen all these technological improvements, leaving limited avenues for product developers to go down.  3-D screens seems like the next step for the next generation of phones, but I am not entirely sold.  When I am trying to use my phone, the less glitz and confusion the better.  I don't know if this is a good idea, but it all depends on what the phone will be used for.  For personal use and entertainment, it might be a winner.  But in a business application, maybe not so helpful.  Then again, I never though putting MP3 technology or video conferencing would take off for main stream consumption.  3-D could be the next big thing.  To read the full article, find it here.

Finally, a product hit the news this past week that can protect you... from you.  We've all seen it before: someone has a good time on the town and gets a hold of their Facebook or Twitter account when they get home.  Not being of complete mind, these people usually end up saying things a) not in the words or order of letters they wanted b) they didn't want to really say to someone or c) that make them look and sound like an idiot.  My good friend Shaminda wrote that article not too long ago about being your own brand manager: that you are the gate keeper to creating and maintaining a strong personal brand with those around you.  This means you need to control how you communicate and interact with others, and this also means controlling your presence electronically.

Have no fear though.  If you need something to protect you from you, George Stroumboulopoulos found a product to help you out.  Webroot has created the Social Media Sobriety Test.  This program forces you to pass a sobriety test before allowing you to enter your social media application.  If you're of sound enough mind to pass the test, it will allow you into it to go about your business.  However, failing the test means you can't get into your Facebook and do something stupid.

A good product?  If you're someone who needs to be prevented from getting on Facebook when you've had a few, absolutely.  But maybe the better idea is not to go near social media when you've had a good time and save yourself a few bucks.  Must be said, if you need this, maybe buying a product to stop you from entering your site isn't the real solution.  A 'Breathalyzer' doesn't correct drunk driving, and neither will this.