Twitter recently, if coyly, announced that its developers are working on a beefed up Places-like feature that allows Twitter-ers to specify the location from which their tweets are sent. The feature is not new to Twitter, but the company’s reminding the public of it suggests an effort to steal some thunder from (or ride the wave with) Facebook’s announcement of Places and Deals that we noted earlier. How might Twitter fare in the micro-blogging/location-specific skirmish?
The numbers of people who use location-sharing services are quite small, according to the Pew Charitable Trust, though the demographics are intriguing. For example, “8% of online adults ages 18-29 use location-based services, significantly more than online adults in any other age group.” And “10% of online Hispanics use these services – significantly more than online whites (3%) or online blacks (5%).” Such services as FourSquare and Gowilla and have helped expand these numbers over the last year or so, and FourSquare in particular still seems to be the favorite. But the (re)entries of Facebook and Twitter are likely to drive up interest.
That said, Tom Bradley of PCWorld.com believes much of the driven-up interest is likely to remain with FourSquare because FourSquare has been able to establish a sense of fun and reward in the effort to check in. “Unfortunately, without something more behind the checking-in, it is nothing more than a trivial novelty.” The triviality is likely to be overcome, though, as bigger players enter the market and people get accustomed to the expectation of location-based social-media information. A recent update to its initial report on Mashable.com quotes the folks at Twitter about the development, but not yet announced release, of the feature. In particular, they seem to be developing ways for businesses to take advantage of it (a la “Deals” from Facebook).
Surely the smart money is on this kind of location-based micro-blogging growing in stature and usefulness over time. Nevertheless, resistance is not difficult to find as many have commented on the need not only to post at a specific locale that offers Deals, but also the requirement to draw your ‘friends’ to that location to receive the Deal – a tall order for anyone over seventeen not hanging around the mall on a Saturday afternoon. But if/as businesses find ways to utilize the feature, and reward users, without requiring bodily presence, the draw will surely encourage further participation.
Where ever your location is at the moment, we hope it is further improved over the weekend!