William Johnson | @WillfromUTA
SoLoMo - It's a portmanteau that means “social,” “mobile” and “local”. And while it’s nothing new, the SoLoMo business model is something that has received increased attention since its inception over 3 years ago.
While it may be easy to get engrossed in the individual parts of SoLoMo, I prefer to look at the plan holistically. Take Foursquare, one of the earliest advancers of the idea. As an app, Foursquare created a mobile-based social network centered around local check-ins. The application’s experience is tailored to each individual user based on locality while being accessible almost anywhere.
The idea is to engage users/clients socially by making a network or like-minded individuals. By making this network mobile, you assure that it can be carried along with users throughout the day. And finally, by tailoring content to users by way of locality, you ensure the content is relevant to their daily life. That’s SoLoMo in a nutshell, and developers and advertisers have taken and run with it.
After the popularity of check-ins exploded, mobile apps like Instagram and Facebook caught on, too. But not before third party developers joined the mix.
In the post-Foursquare world, SoLoMo exists in the form of apps like Nike+ that monitor your physical activity throughout the day, assigning points for movement and comparing them to your friends in the Nike Fuelband network.
Another example is the app Wallit!, which posts content to a physical location or “wall” in a given area. Nearby users can see content posted to physical locales and reply with their own. Instead of joining friends in a social network, Users interact with the people they pass on the street or in the hallways at work and school everyday.
While it may seem like this wave of apps is focused around the social experience, there is a profitable business side to SoLoMo, as well. The way Nike infuses itself into everyday life with Nike+ is simply for brand development.
But apps like shopkick allow users to gain rewards for their daily habits. Shopkick is an application built around the consumer experience. The app grants points and offers for walking into partner stores and browsing selections while providing a social network of customer reviews for certain products. Users stand to gain even more points from purchases made in store. The sort of value apps like this bring to businesses isn't solely calculated in increased sales, but also in the information that it provides merchants - namely spending habits and customer product evaluations. In the meantime, the consumer is treated to the SoLoMo experience. While the app is designed to be fun and beneficial to users, businesses see just as much, if not more, benefit from apps of its like.
From what is seems like, SoLoMo isn’t a trend. It’s just one of the many futures of consumer-business relationships.