Many predict mobile media applications, such as Foursquare and Facebook Places, will have a larger impact this year than last. M-commerce, including such novel implementations as Shopkick, may transform the way we do business, the way we shop, and the way we share with our social networks. Mobile sharing applications are also changing other aspects of the way we live our lives by crowdsourcing locational information and pictures using devices such as smartphones, increasing the impact of geolocation and crowdsourcing on market performance.
Wikipedia defines crowdsourcing as:
Crowdsourcing is the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to an undefined, large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call.
More to our purpose here, journalists have created a more nuanced meaning for crowdsourcing as:
trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals
There are lots of ways to employ crowdsourcing to solve real problems. For example, Wikipedia itself is crowdsourced with each contributor providing a small piece of information forming the collective online encyclopedia. Wikipedia has even crowdsourced a list of crowdsourced projects you can find here. Bookmarking sites like Technorati and De.lic.ious are also examples of crowdsourcing. Finally, Quora is a crowdsourced answer site where people answer questions posed by others. Crowdsourcing is also an excellent way to do innovation that is creative and satisfying customer needs.
In this post, I’d like to focus on Geolocation and Crowdsourcing
Geo-location is (according to Wikipedia):
the identification of the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a cell phone or an Internet-connected computer terminal
As an example, Google now uses crowdsourcing rather than automobiles to gather information to build its maps of WIFI hotspots.
Here are some other ways geolocation and crowdsourcing are being used in combination:
- Journalists are using check-ins at restaurants as sources for story ideas, such as check-ins mentioning a particularly impressive menu item or a bug found in someone’s soup. Or the entertainment reporter who uses them as a means to determine what venues, movies, or performers are hot.
- Companies can similarly use comments posted during check-in as a means of “fixing” problems. They can also use check-ins as a way to motivate customers.
- StyleTrek is a crowdsourced application that identifies locations of new designers and fashions.
However, crowdsourcing and geolocation can have a more meaningful impact, such as during the Haitian earthquake when most maps became obsolete overnight. Here aid workers crowdsourced locations of aid stations, medical stations, and coordinate volunteers with those in need.
Crowdsourcing and geolocation are also being used to accomplish the tedious task of logging the habit and ecology of a location. This information can be used to help preserve the environment and species nearing extinction, but it can also be used for innovation. This tactic has also been used successfully by NASA and other scientific agencies.
So, what does the future hold?
Likely we’ll see more applications such as Shopkick, which attempt to track and affect consumer behavior using Smartphone applications such as Foursquare. Adding a dimension of crowdsourcing is likely, as well, by sharing information via QR Codes embedded in locations. We already saw some of this during Black Friday, as retailers employed QR Codes to incentivize shoppers, but likely we’ll soon see apps where consumers can share information about which retailers are having the best sales, etc.
Foursquare is really in its infancy and, with Facebook Places, we’re likely to see more crowdsourced information about the best restaurants in town, where the best sales are, how to find a good dog park …
Use of crowdsourced information for non-profits is also likely to continue. The US Military is currently debating giving Smartphones to every service personnel in a war zone to crowdsource information about military movements, but also about sentiments among the population to identify where outbreaks are likely to crop up. It will likely be an important tool for relief efforts, such as those needed after the earthquake in Haiti.
We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies. Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get the 1st chapter of our book on digital marketing analytics – FREE, or contact us for more information on hiring us.
Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.