For about the last 5 or 7 years we’ve been teased with the concept that “this” was the year of mobile. I heard it in 2005, heard it a lot in 2009 and couldn’t dodge it in 2011. I think it’s safe to say that in 2012 mobile is here.
With Social Media activities dominating people’s time online; these days it’s more than 20% of internet usage, we certainly would all agree that social media is here to stay and will continue to become bigger.
And, the emphasis on local is unquestioned. You need only look at the investments by companies like Google, Apple and AOL to know that local is more relevant now that it was even pre-internet. We want local news, deals and information about things to do. It’s not that we don’t care about the national scene, it’s that local has become increasingly relevant with the instantaneous nature of the web. Like, love, hate, question or shun Groupon, you can’t disagree with how smart their Groupon Now concept is. That’s local. That’s often mobile. And that’s relevant.
As marketers we love to create new buzz words or marketing “handles” that shape a conversation or drive toward a common vision. Last year, was the first time I remember hearing LoSoMo. It was heralded as the holy grail of marketing opportunity. You had local, social and mobile all theoretically intersecting to provide opportunity for marketers and value for customers. It’s the classic marketing win-win!
In 2009 I wrote two posts about the intersection of local and mobile. The first was titled, It’s Not Who You Are – It’s Where You Are. This post focused on the opportunity mobile and local provided. It eliminated, on some level, the concept of demographics, because you could market based on proximity instead of a traditional funnel model that started with a broad audience. If you will, this was LoMo. A few weeks later I wrote a post titled, It’s Now About Where You Are – It’s About Who You’re With. In that post, I wrote:
Where our friends are can impact where we work, where we eat lunch, the gym we belong to, and yes the social communities we join.
Think about it. Experiences are amplified when they’re shared. But, I don’t mean sharing in the way we’ve used sharing these days. The kind of sharing, where you saw something, so you “share” it on social networks. No, I mean eating dinner with your mom or attending a live concert with your best friend…hearing that one song and both of you geeking off of the energy. That’s the real sharing I’m talking about. That’s LoSo.
Take a second and think about the last time you had a truly Local, Social AND Mobile experience. Still scratching your head? Good. This is the problem with the LoSoMo concept. Platforms like foursquare, which I LOVE, were heralded as the perfect example of how to integrate Local, Social and Mobile. But, does foursquare and its brethren really do that? Think about a foursquare experience:
- Open up the app
- Choose check-in
- Find the location you’re already at
- Maybe see who’s already there, what deal is available, who’s been there, or what tips are available
- Earn a deal
- Redeem deal
- Share that you just scored a deal
On the surfact it looks like the perfect ven diagram of LoSoMo, but dig a little deeper. It’s actually, at best, a 2-stage process of LoMo and MoSo. Steps 1 – 3 and 5 – 7 are all LoMo. There’s nothing social about those activities. Step 8 is definitely MoSo; you’re sharing information with your “friends” via a mobile platform. It’s local to you, but not local to them. The only step, you could argue that fits the criteria for LoSoMo is step 4. But, step 4 only becomes LoSoMo IF your friends had been to the location before, had left a tip that impact your decision OR by chance they were already checked in which is why you chose the location. But, think about this for a second. How likely is that?
So sure, LoSoMo could happen, but it’s a small small small opportunity, because our natural behavior isn’t LoSoMo oriented. Our natural behavior is LoMo or MoSo. It’s just simply rare that you get all 3 to happen. Not because it isn’t possible, but because it doesn’t fit how we normally interact. As marketers, we’re desperate to innovate. We’re desperate to reinvent. We’re desperate to come up with a new model that fits the opportunity we believe exists. But, doesn’t that make us poor marketers? Shouldn’t we be looking for the opportunity instead of trying to force it to happen?
Just so you don’t think this is all conjecture, I want you to consider 3 things:
1. There are serious privacy concerns and questions being asked by the Government and Users. Facebook, the largest social network out there has re-dedicated themselves to privacy. That means this concept of “frictionless” sharing that Zuckerberg wants to see, becomes tougher to execute. But, you need a comfort level with privacy to realize the possibility of LoSoMo. Not just a comfort level from the end user, but a comfort level from the platform creators. If you’re a platform creator and erring to far on the side of “frictionless” sharing, you’ll draw the attention of the government.
2. Take on a little bit of Me-Search. How many LoSoMo interactions have you actually participated in, in the last 30 days. Be honest with yourself.
3. We’re seeing a major shift towards smaller, less open, more private social networks and concepts. Look at Google+, Path and Oink. The concept of open and everyone is dying. Users want control and they are taking control back with the help of platforms who understand this trend.
I see a world, in a few years, where LoSoMo becomes a real opportunity. But, it’s going to take better infrastructure (eg 4G, enhanced POS), greater comfort with privacy or lack there of, platforms that work at scale and continued adoption of social behavior. The hype of LoSoMo is simply not ready to be realized.