Today (well, yesterday American time) Facebook held a press conference in which Zuckerberg and Co officially revealed what many of us have been eagerly awaiting: Facebook’s push into location based social activity, Facebook Places.
You can read the live blog of the event on what was revealed and what went down here on Mashable, but what I actually want to talk about is what I was surprised wasn’t revealed.
Anyone working in or around social media at the moment will have heard that we’re in the year of mobile and the location based revolution. I myself have been guilty of discussing this shift ad nauseum in the past, but what this actually ignores is what the growth in Foursquare, Gowalla (both of whom were present as partners at the Places launch) and Brightkite actually signals.
Location is fantastic. If I’m out at a restaurant, concert, gallery, live event etc, being able to connect with other people there who have been there in the past or who are there right now is both entertaining and useful – I can get advice, meet up with friends I didn’t realise were nearby and earn rewards.
So much focus is placed on the reward systems in these ventures, namely the badges or promotional tie-ins however what is often overlooked is the beauty and adaptability of the check-in mechanic.
An example: I’m out at the movies with friends, and all being hip, young social media nerds we check in at George Street Cinemas, I even send this to Twitter and Facebook as well with the message “Seeing Inception!” attached. I see a Tip as to the best seats to ask for in Event Cinema’s new assigned seating madness, grab popcorn and enjoy the movie. Great, right?
Sure, but why base such a check-in only on location? Surely I have more in common with someone in another cinema seeing Inception than someone who is physically close but watching Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue? Likewise, if I’m at home watching Mad Men, why not connect me with others doing the same? This is at the heart of the event based check-in market.
Naturally, I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. There are already a bunch of competing services in the space, fighting against each other and trying to gain traction. GetGlue, Philo and Miso all do similar things but with unique pros and cons for each. As Jennifer Van Grove puts it:
It’s way too early to make predictions. We’re still on the cusp of an emerging trend, but eventually there will be one clear victor.
GetGlue has an advantage on the recommendation engine front. Philo’s live TV focus is inherently network-friendly. And Miso really gets why and how users will use its service.
A solid case could be made for each, and yet one will dominate, just as Twitter killed off its competition and Facebook finds itself leaps and bounds ahead of the rest. Right now, though, it’s still anybody’s game.
So yes, I’m certainly not the only one who sees this as a potentially massive market in the future. Remember, these types of check-ins can, and will, expand to cover more and more of what you do on a day to day basis. Concerts, watching TV, movies, sporting events and, I would wager, even more abstract events such as hobbies and past times.
The part that gets me, is while Facebook Places looks really interesting and will no doubt be the subject of much reporting and debate in the coming weeks, is that it’s this event based interaction which to me marries far better with Facebook’s current ecosystem (Pages, Groups etc), which is why I’m surprised that Zuckerberg said definitively that event based check-ins were not part of the service at this time.
The coming 12 months should be very interesting for how this space evolves, and for an excellent run down on uptake, interaction and profiling of the three services I mentioned above, I do recommend anyone interested read Jennifer Van Grove’s piece.
What do you think? If you’re a currently a Foursquare addict could you see yourself checking in to events? Or do you not see the appeal of any of it?