At the intersection of mobile, social and location

According to global research agency Millward Brown, 55 percent of smartphone owners in the US rely on their phones for directions or recommendations that are based on their current location.  As authors of our app Geogether, we cannot miss out on maximizing our monetization opportunities by not including social platforms in our app.

I’m currently enrolled in the HCDE certificate program at the University of Washington.  As part of the research for the mobile application my team is working on I came across three articles that all had a very similar theme for the task we are undertaking in our research:

Social + Location + Mobile: The ultimate relevance written by Marketing Magazine

Geolocation and Social Features in Mobile Apps written by Maggie Taylor

How mobile, apps and social media have changed the restaurant industry written by Niall Harbison

So what happens when you combine the power of social features with location based information on your smart phone?

The answer seems to be it’s a must have if you want a top tier mobile app.

Mark Zuckerberg chimes in on the topic, “If I had to guess, social commerce will be the next area to really blow up.”

The authors at Marketing Magazine have come up with a clever catch phrase called “SoLoMo” which is basically selling or marketing that utilizes social platforms with the added context, courtesy of the mobile phone.  “So”, think social platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  “Lo”, wherever you happen to be at the moment and “Mo”, the mobile aspect that ties them both together.  They point to research from recent Product of the Year awards showing the impact that you’re friends have on your purchases.  Turns out you friends are the ones making the most impact on your buying patterns not the so called “experts” or ratings and reviews they stumble upon during research on what they should buy.  This doesn’t surprise me that much frankly.  Bing made significant changes to their search engine earlier this year when they gave users the ability to loop in their friend’s advice on Facebook when they searched for something. “Does anyone have a good recommendation for a gutter cleaner on the eastside?” That was my most recent use of this feature. It turned out great and I took my friends advice faster than an anonymous Angies List reviews.

Last week we had an exercise in class where our team did a 5 minute presentation about our project.  One of the pieces of feedback that surprised me the most was how people got the strong impression that Geogether was a “social” app.  Our app is social? Well I guess it could be and frankly should be after reading the following from Maggie Taylor’s article: “At Skyhook, we studied the top 200 highest-ranked apps in the iTunes App Store and found a significant number of them benefiting from a variety of social features. Apps that used social features were more likely to be listed in the top 200”.

Niall Harbison’s article talked about how the abundance of location based social smart phones have killed the old model for restaurateurs who only had to deal with one food critic every few months. Now anyone with a smart phone can give a review on the spot with a picture to boot and have it front of hundreds of friends who, as pointed out above, will listen to their peers.

“The important thing to remember here is that users trust their friend’s recommendations more than anything so a good or bad review on these sites could instantly shape the opinions of hundreds of people.”

Who hasn’t seen the requisite food picture check in at their favorite restaurant?







This is a perfect example of all three piece of the social, location, mobile opportunity.  What better way for a company to take advantage of this immediate, connected glowing review?

Although these three articles were penned by different people they all hammered home the same point: Successful mobile apps must include social connections whenever possible.  I absolutely agree with this.  Great UCD is about understanding the needs, wants, and limitations of our users but I feel like one of the most important that we seem to forget is simply delighting your users.  Adding the “So” and the “Lo” to our “Mo” will not only help in that endeavor but also to help our users connect with one another in our app to give the feeling of belonging to a community.


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