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It seems everyone is going social these days. Earlier this year, Google launched Google Buzz, a social networking and messaging tool integrated into Gmail. In fact, this year alone Google has acquired the social search engine Aardvark, the social networking startup Angstro, the mobile social calendaring tool Plannr, and the social gaming company SocialDeck. If Google acquisitions are any indication as to where our marketing world is headed, I think those 4 acquisitions send a strong message about our future on the Internet.
Also in 2010, Facebook launched Open Graph, a socially-driven search engine and platform that integrates your site with Facebook (BTW, this move has ushered in the ‘SEO for Facebook’ industry, and believe me, it will be important to rank in Facebook’s search engine…at least for the next few years). More recently, Facebook launched ‘Places’, a geo-location service. It’s almost like the search people wanted to go social, and the social people wanted to go search. Arguably the 2 biggest companies of the modern internet age are crossing streams. Is this a good idea? Are we headed for disaster? I don’t know. The whole thing makes me think of that quote from Ghostbusters when they are discussing the looming disaster: “Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes… The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!” Will there be mass hysteria? Probably not. But it certainly makes for a great reference in a blog post about social media!
With all this talk about social and mobile happenings in 2010, we must remember Foursquare. I’m an avid Foursquare user (15 mayorships and counting!), and like everyone else in the social realm, I figured Foursquare would be shaking in their mobile space boots when Facebook announced their Places service, as Facebook’s 500 million users dwarf Foursquare’s 4 million users (as of 10/25/2010). But this was not the case. In fact, now it seems that Foursquare wants to dominate what happens after the check-in. Personalized recommendations and customized tips based on your check-in history, are just a couple of new features expected in late 2010 and/or early 2011.
Well, Foursquare, I’m here to tell you that location domination could be difficult. Apparently, Facebook just launched Facebook Deals, an application within Facebook’s iPhone app. Here are the four types of deals, as described by Mashable:
Individual Deals (for discounts, free stuff or other rewards)
Friend Deals (where you and a pal claim something together)
Loyalty Deals (for the regulars)
Charity Deals (which allow you to donate to a cause)
How about that? You can now use Facebook Deals to find deals at local businesses – all through your smartphone! Currently, Facebook Deals are only available in the iPhone app and for Android users, but I’m thinking this is one of those things that will eventually spread to the majority of smartphone models.
In terms of who is already using Facebook Deals to market to their customers, look no further than Gap. According to Bloomberg: “Using Deals, Gap will give away jeans to the first 10,000 customers who visit one of its U.S. retail stores and “check in” using Facebook’s mobile application.” That’s some forward-thinking social marketing right there! It really goes to show you that Facebook Deals will give companies a new way to promote themselves and market their products to potential and existing customers who just happen to be in the vicinity. I can see it already: there you are just walking by a store, and the store knows you are passing by, and so the store’s server pushes an ad to your phone. It’s already happening that way, and now with 200 million Facebook users accessing Facebook through a mobile app, the incentives for creating mobile location marketing campaigns have significantly increased.
If anything is clear, it is that Foursquare and Facebook are on the leading edge of mobile social location services. It is the wave of the future – today! Regarding Foursquare vs. Facebook, the fight is not over. Even though I’ll be checking out Facebook Deals when I’m out and about, I’m not leaving Foursquare. I’m interested in their upcoming features, and I’m very interested to see how all of this plays out. Happy check-ins everybody!