We’ve been all over about social and connecting with people using services like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Facebook is at the center stage and people love socializing with their friends, play games with friends or check-in to the places and share.
The only problem with Social is monetization. Historically, the social media platforms have had hard time monetizing themselves. People have trained themselves over a period of time to look at less Ads. The social sites have a lot of content and an information overload as we call it. So, It is hard to get great results with Ads.
On the other hand, companies like Groupon and their hundreds of clones are growing by day and night. Groupon enjoys a whopping $15 Billion valuation in such a short time.
So, why is Groupon Cool?
Groupon is cool because of quality of deals being bargained by them and presented to their visitors. People want crazy mouth watering deals which are hard to get. The major difference between the Ads and Deals today is – Deals are whacky stuff with unusually cheap prices which attracts special attention. Once they start liking the deal, they start sharing it with their friends on Social Networks and Groupon gets free eyeballs.
There is a major problem with Groupon and Clones – If everything is a deal, there is no deal. I mean, think if you start getting deals everywhere and anywhere, deals loses that special importance. Groupon is great but not sure if that is quite sustainable!
Foursquare, Google Latitude and Facebook Places
There are more location based services that catches our attention. Each of these services commands user base in millions, Facebook topping the list with 200 million users for Facebook places. The problem with Check-in based services is though, it is an extra work that people might not be interested in doing that often. If you look at the web traffic for Foursquare, It is not growing like Facebook’s did. It is certainly is not the next big thing apart from a cool game.
Can Facebook pull it together?
With over 700 million user base it must be very easy for Facebook to get onto places and monetize local really big time. Facebook has already come up with interesting products like Facebook Deals, Facebook Places and Facebook Credits etc.
I really think Facebook can’t. Why?
- Facebook relies on everything with notion of Friends. People usually avoid financial transitions with friends e.g. I won’t like to sell my Lancer to my close friend just to screw up the friendship. I would put it on classifieds and sell it to a stranger.
- Facebook bans friend requests algorithmically to ensure people must know in person to be friends on Facebook. So, there are very little chances of them dealing locally.
- Facebook used to have Local Networks feature in the past. They removed it because it was not working well for them. Facebook is designed to communicate with close friends globally and share moments together.
- The way Social Products should be “Social” from ground up, Local products must be “Local” from ground up which is not true for Facebook and hence it can’t pull it together!
So, what is the Next Big Thing?
Group buying sites are just the tip of the iceberg. 95% of transactions happen locally worldwide. The Next big thing will power these 95% of transactions and earn nicely to make it happen.
Here are some of the possibilities:
- Something that lets people connect locally and share stories by building new relationships and execute transactions
- People powered Local News – The purest and unbiased form of news.
- Something that makes people look at the places in a new city even before they visit them providing them with good source
- Something that lets people spend time locally with well defined benefits.
Feel free to debate and comment. The Next big thing is always debatable ;)