It’s been a year or so since Twitter stormed into everyday life. Facebook made a steadier approach, but is now just as ubiquitous. And now there’s another must-have app that seems to be teetering on stardom called FourSquare. Some might argue that it has already made it to the big time, but I think its best days are still just around the corner.
For those unfamiliar with FourSquare, it falls in the social media category, but has some differentiating characteristics. The basics are that an individual can “check-in” to establishments and earn badges based on their daily social activities. For instance a person who has checked in to an establishment the most becomes “mayor” of the place. They offer a multitude other badges such as if you visit a certain number of places in a day you get the “tourist” badge. You can also check to see where your friends are. There’s a lot more to their application, and if you’re interested you can check it out at www.foursquare.com.
I wrote a post a while ago titled “Is the internet where websites go to die?” My reasoning for asking that question is that with the rise and evolution of social media, traditional websites are becoming increasingly marginalized. If you’re a small business you probably haven’t gotten around to creating a Facebook fan page yet, but chances are good your customers are finding you through social media applications anyway, like crowd sourced sites such as Yelp or Urban Spoon.
There’s a commonality in all of the applications I have mentioned so far in that they allow people to discuss their varied experiences and interactions with businesses and organizations in a shared (and public) forum. And if you’re a business, you may very well find that your customers are talking about you behind your back – right in front of you!
Of course, this type of communication has been going on since the beginning of time, but now it’s out there for everyone to see and participate. Businesses small and large are struggling and learning how to interact with their current and potential customers in these noisy new mediums. The struggle is that the organizations that are the topic of conversation cannot control the tenor of the discussion. At best, they can interact, react and maybe do some moderation – but they have no control over the direction.
To me, there seems to be a really important channel that is missing in the new media, which is a way for businesses to communicate directly with their customers in a medium that is more evolved than email. It also needs to be something that slices through all of the noise inherent in social media. Dare I say that it will be SMS?
John Epperson is a co-founder and President of Ruxter. Having worked in various fields across the technology spectrum in the last 20+ years, John has gained a broad understanding of technology. Together with the Ruxter team he has developed a web-based application that allows anyone to quickly and easily harness the power of the mobile internet. You can contact him here. Follow Ruxter on Twitter.