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If you're spending all of your time focusing on how to take advantage of Facebook's new Timeline feature, or the latest change in Twitter's Sponsored Tweets or how to leverage Pintrest for brands, might I suggest you STOP?
Why you might ask?
Because, in my opinion, the future of social media for brands and brand management doesn't so much live in the platform as it does in the product and place.
Of late, I'm seeing more and more mobile apps that combine place, product and review and comment. These apps are taking the conversation off the platform and placing it squarely on the product or place/event via the use of bar codes and geoinformation.
For instance, this is Open Label. The app bills itself as "the super fast way for people and organizations to keep each other informed about products. "
The app creators meant this to be a tool for consumers to create the largest database of crowdsourced, up to the minute product information in the world.
Now think about that... if they're successful, their app, not Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus will become the "platform" for consumers to be motivated or demotivated to purchase.
And it's universal because it's based on bar codes -- those beloved black and white bar codes that we're all familiar with and that every product carries.
So if a brand's goal is to foster preference, love and purchase, apps like these and mobile smartphones in general - are going to make the effort far less about Facebook and more about true transparency in product quality, customer service and even things like geopolitical leanings.
Apps like this take the idea of the "Like" to an entirely different level.
But products will not be alone. Apps like Foursquare and Yelp, have already ushered in the idea of commenting on places and events and attaching those comments to a virtual bulletin board to be seen and used by those that will or may consider following behind us.
Apps like Wallit want to house all of the conversations sourrounding physical spaces. According to the site
Wallit is "the only way for you to “write on walls” at popular places and “start conversations” with the people who are "really" there.
This new breed of app is approaching the field of location based commenting slightly differently. First, only Wallit can create a Wall. That ensures that only official versions of a location wall exist.
Second, and really importantly I think, Wallit doesn't require the user to have an account or publicly identify themselves. So there is no personal information sharing going on here, which should encourage consumers to use/post.
It could also however, lead to haters just posting negative stuff because there are no consequences for the act... which brings about an entirely different host of challenges for brands.
Now unlike Open Label, Wallit does not seek to be an influencer app. There is no rating system or review encouragement like there is in Open Label. However, as the company seeks to monetize, one can only assume the enticement, curation and data mining of consumer comments will play a role.
Why Is This The Future Of Social Media For Brands?
I think this is the future because both apps, and the many others like them both available today and most certainly tomorrow, seek to provide utility. Utility is the reason a consumer generates directions to or calls a local business from a Yelp mobile app every second. And recent research suggests that consumers are using Foursquare as a memory device as much as a gaming platform.
Facebook, Twitter, etc., are the shiny objects of the day. And consumers are having fun with them at ever increasing rates. But like all new technologies, the bloom will come off the rose and what's left will be utility. And with application developers increasingly seeing the intersection of mobile smart phones and consumer purchase decisions -- we're going to see an increasing need for brands to understand how to listen to, engage in and influence these mobile oriented product and place based conversations.
Feel like you need help navigating these new, uncharted digital conversation waters? Contact me for help.
And if you liked this post, please feel free to share it with your crew or add to it by joining the conversation in the comments.