Kudos to Marjolein Hoekstra (@cleverclogs) for passing on the awesomesauce headline! If you love the things I tweet (@corvida), then she’s someone you need to be following.
After finding the joy in Brightkite, a location-based social network, I began to realize how important location-based services and mobile social networks are becoming. I absolutely love them. I’m staying tuned into the advancements they make, especially after reading how the iPhone is boosting demands for location-based services (I agree, Om!). Did you know that there are over 1900 location-based iPhone apps?! There’s a lot of opportunity for this space to grow into something that could transform the way we communicate and interact in real life!
This space isn’t without it’s pitfalls though. One of the worst things about mobile social networks and location-based services is that they constantly fall prey to what I refer to as the “empty room” effect. You can receive all the information in the world about where someone was at 2 hours ago with such services. That was 2 hours ago!
- Are they still there?
- Where are they on the way to?
- What do I do now?
Such questions aren’t being given answers. There are a ton of issues that need to be address. Here are my top 8 suggestions on how to better improve the use and adoption of mobile social networks and location-based services.
Check Out Option
This is the best resolution to the “empty room” problem. Where’s my checkout option? This can help my friends and potential connections know that though I’ve recently (with 1-5 hours) visited a specific place, I’m no longer there.
Where To Next?
Expanding on the check out option, I’d love the option to send an update out on where I’m heading to next, without necessarily checking into the place. Once I get to my destination, I should be able to come back to the option to check-in. I ask for this because sometimes I like to let my network know where I might be heading to next. Right now, this requires me to check-in to the destination before I get there. I could post a note about where I’m heading next it would be missing important location details, while remaining attached to my current destination (which I don’t want).
While I can see where people are and what they’re doing around me. I have no idea how to introduce myself to them. Should I just stop by and tell them how I found them? I don’t think so. Sounds kind of stalker-ish, doesn’t it? Should I send a message via the service? They may not get it before they leave to their next destination. See my dilemma?
I imagine a button that that allows me to personally introduce myself to someone at a particular location that I’m checked into,and/or a way to notify new people that check-in to a location whether I’m in the mood to meet and greet or if I’m “busy”.
What’s Around Me?
I can see where people are around me, but I’d like to know what’s also around me. How about competing stores similar to the one I checked into? What about finding more restaurants around me? Maybe the one I originally wanted to go had too long of a wait time. Any more restaurants around that serve pasta or pizza?
Sure I could use services like Yelp or UrbanSpoon to find these things, but I don’t want to hop from site to site. Aren’t we we’re discussing location-based services? All of this is location-based information!
Places To Go / People To See
I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying “I have places to go and people to see.” I think the first half of the saying is something location-based services should seriously considering diving into. I’m constantly finding out about new places to visit. However, I rarely remember where they are and whether or not I’m near them. I’d love the ability to bookmark those places and receive an alert whenever I check-in near any places that I bookmarked. That way I’ll remember to visit them even when I’ve long forgotten about them.
Meetups & Events
Tweetups, conferences, unconferences, meetups…location-based services are sorely lacking in features that cater to these events. What would you want to see from your mobile-social network in order to take advantage of the connections available right in front of you?
Grouping of Contacts Based on Location
Can someone please provide this option! I would’ve thought someone would’ve implemented it by now. Being able to see what’s going on with your friends based by location would be an awesome view. Imagine being able to follow what’s going on with your friends from your hometown, while also watching what’s going on with your friends where you currently live!
Avoid My Service Provider
Instead of filling up my inbox and forcing me to get a SMS plan, try providing the same services via YOUR network. Enough said.
I’d love to be able to see any events going on within a specific radius of where I’m at or events relating to certain interests that I’ve marked in my profile. For example, when I’m out with friends and we run out of ideas on things to do, we don’t go searching the web for more ideas. We call friends and pay attention to what’s going on around us. Having this information already at my fingertips from one service or network would be great instead of having to switch to Upcoming by Yahoo. Sorry, I hate service hopping. The fact that I own an iPhone doesn’t help either.
This is what I hope to see for the future of mobile social networks. These are the actions, opportunities, and options that I adamantly encourage to be taken advantage of. There may be some privacy issues regarding some of these suggestions. If there is, feel free to let me know in the comments. However, privacy is not a huge concern for me when it comes to such services. We’re all responsible for what we choose to push and pull.
What are some features you see in the future for mobile social networks and location-based services? Know of any networks that have the features noted above? Comment, comment, COMMENT!