Today on FriendFeed, Tamar Weinberg posted a message on FriendFeed about giving up on Brightkite. I asked Tamar what she was getting out of it to begin with and she replied,
To be honest, not much. I forged one real life friendship out of it, so that was cool — it was fun to share my destinations with friends (more specifically, the pictures that I took were well-received). That’s about it, though. I don’t have a GPS-enabled phone so Brightkite did it for me.
I don’t think she’s alone at all with this response. I’ve written my thoughts about this before with What’s Plaguing Your Mobile Social Network? on ReadWriteWeb. Here is an expansion on those thoughts.
Quicker And Easily Accessible Methods
For those that aren’t technologically challenged, sharing photos is easy, you send them via mail or drop them off to a friend’s house. You can even send pictures via your cellphone. My mom does it all the time. They really don’t want to go through the process of signing up and logging into a service every time they want to send a picture to a friend. It’s much quicker to just send it by your cellphone. Destinations can be shared via a phone call or text message. “Why do I need a service to do this?” is probably what they’re thinking when they have a mobile phone that does the same.
The fact of the matter is that location based social networks are all about interacting with strangers if your friends aren’t on it. Most people could care less about sharing photos with people they don’t know or finding out where everyone is going if no one they know will be there. Simultaneously, all this information is readily available with just one phone call. No computer or internet service required.
“No Results Were Found For The Location You Entered”
Regardless of whether we have GPS-enabled phones or not, location based social networks just don’t seem to offer what we want them to. It’s not entirely their fault either. We forget that outside of our bubble of all things web and social media related, the rest of the world could care less about these things, especially in the U.S. If I’m not mistaken, we’d be better off trying to use these networks in China.
Maybe the focus on location should be changed in some way because outside of major cities and metropolitan areas, these services can do absolutely nothing for anyone. Outside of those cities, no one knows about these things and probably wouldn’t care to use them even if they did.
Offer Something Different
I think that location based social networks will have to start offering something different. Prime examples of networks that offer or will offer something different is Buzzd, Loopt, and Moximity. They offer things outside of sharing your location and pictures with strangers or friends. Buzzd supplies reviews of places near you to help you choose where to go to whenever you feel like checking out something new or going out just for the heck of it. Moximity also plans to offer something similar. Loopt offers reviews from Yelp.
These services stick to the overall topic of location, but move away from the social networking side of things. Social networking isn’t for everyone and they realize this. So they give their audiences offerings that aren’t driven by the fact that you need your friends on the service in order to find value.
Questions To Answer And Discuss
- What do you want out of a location-based social network?
- What don’t you get from current offerings?
- How could these services get you and your friends to join?