I was just reading my fellow Social Media Insider's column "20 Confessions of a Super Mayor," and realized that I have a confession or two to make of my own. When it comes to Foursquare, Gowalla and so forth, I am... nowhere.
Sure, I've signed up. To Foursquare at least, but, as far as my engagement with it -- other than professional interest -- my participation is like that of a tree that fell in a forest with no one there to hear it: it ain't making a sound.
It basically has to do with lifestyle. Unlike what appears to be the globe-trotting life of many of my social media peers, I work from home, with my time tightly conscripted by my kids' schedules. Most days, with only minutes to go before the school bell rings, I go running out of here, with barely enough time to find my cell phone, let alone use it to check in somewhere. Not much time for other travel. This situation qualifies me to be mayor of about four locations:
If I started checking in from the foyer, the back closet, and the upstairs hallway I'd have a shot at becoming a Super Mayor ... of my house, which I should be anyway -- except for the part the bank still owns. My reward? Keep paying those property taxes!
If I were to check in around the couple of locations I frequent where I live, the list would expand (snore!), to:
In short, do I really want to telegraph this stuff and show people just how mundane my life may seem compared to theirs? (Whoops! I just did.) It's not that I have a problem with the life I lead; it's the life I chose and the life I want, even if it is lacking in nights out on the town, celebrity sightings and hashtagged tweets from most of the cool conferences.
But it leads me to an actual business question: How does location-based social bring people like me into the loop? It's not just the home workers I'm talking about, but the harried mom whose life doesn't generally involve many locations and is severely time-constrained at the same time. Most of the moms I know are on Facebook at this point, but they seem to view social as something they do from that little desk squeezed into a corner of the kitchen. If they don't, you certainly won't notice it from their status updates, which, like mine, might make reference to running errands, or driving to their kids' activities -- but I get the feeling those updates are not being made in situ, despite the demo's fairly high iPhone penetration.
We're also not a demo which is likely to check in to see who else is in a certain neighborhood, or city so we could hang out. Hang out? That's but a distant memory.
For us, I imagine, location-based social will boil down to something much more utilitarian: commerce, which takes most of the social out of it. It all becomes about getting' it done, another iteration of the continual pursuit of a good deal.
Can someone like me ever find fun on Foursquare if it doesn't involve a discount? I confess ... I don't know. In the meantime, until my life gets more exciting, I'm sure you'll all be glad not to know whether I'm reporting from the home office, or the comfy red chair, which is where I'm sitting right now. Oops. Sorry about that.