Geotagging: Will it go beyond ‘Cool’

Two businessman passing business card, close-up

Editor’s Note: A special post-counterpost from two of the PRBC bloggers to end 2009 with a bang.  For the counterpoint be sure to check out Jess Greco’s post.

I don’t care if you’re the mayor of the Kirksville YMCA, or you just ousted Marcy as the mayor of Pistol Pete’s Coffee Shop in Kalamazoo. That’s great … for you. But not so much for me. Even if I am your friend, and we have all long given up hope of not knowing every intimate detail of your life, played out for us online in real time, the fact that you have “checked in” at some store, office, coffee shop, etc., whether it be in the same city that I live in or 3,000 miles from me really doesn’t matter. 

Because that has no value to my life. Yeah, I said it. Geo-tagging really is all about me. And you know why? Because I (or you) am the one who needs to benefit from it. Directly. And just knowing that you’re warm and cozy at Pistol Pete’s doesn’t directly benefit me. But it could . . . if done right.

What is really needed right now from FoursquareGowalla and the like is the ability to augment our day-to-day tasks in a meaningful and money-/time-savings manner. What I mean is that to be truly useful to the masses, and not just an early-adopter tool that never gets past the “man, that’s cool!” stage, geo-tagging and social marketing services like Foursquare will need to help me and you save time, money and energy completing our daily tasks, in real time.

For example: Say I am planning on heading over to my local Food Emporium for some grocery shopping on 82nd & 3rd Avenue in Manhattan (as I often do). Wouldn’t it be great if I could “check in” 30 minutes or so before I head over to the grocery store, and then, in real time, a series of QR codes pop up with coupons for relevant items from around the store from product categories that I bought the last time I shopped at the Food Emporium? Think about how useful that would be . . .

There are numerous examples of how social marketing and geo-tagging sites can benefit us, if they are done right. But at the present moment, many of these sites are still living in the fantasy land that has somehow permeated throughout the past five years that by simply creating something cool, people will use it forever. I think Friendster and MySpace have taught us all a lesson in that.

So what useful abilities do you want to see from geo-tagging and social marketing sites?

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