Anthony Longo is a guest contributor. If you would like to contribute a post to Street Fight, contact us here.
When Dan Adams and I decided to build what would become CO Everywhere, we didn’t have a “category” in mind. We didn’t think about a “vertical” we’d fit under. We weren’t in the business of boxing ourselves in. Our conversations were energized and eager and we knew there was something powerful to be had if we could successfully harness the social world with the physical real world — so we went for it.
Two years later we have been able to witness how social intelligence can be a lens into a place to give you a location’s very pulse. We’ve seen living things where many people simply see locations, pins on a map, or means to an end.
We realized pretty quickly that to move along as a startup and have impactful conversations with investors, advisors and peers, we had to have some essence of a definition. We weren’t “social media” and we didn’t feel like “hyperlocal.” We landed on “geosocial” — it was the most accurate descriptor of what our technology did.
Geosocial. The buzzword that faded away in 2011 and early 2012 was a mystery to us. Even now looking back into TechCrunch and Mashable archives, you won’t find a thing on geosocial posted in the past three years, however after looking closely at the geosocial landscape, it made complete sense that it wouldn’t be ripe until now. Here’s a timeline:
- Facebook opened to the public in 2006.
- Twitter was founded in 2006.
- Foursquare was founded in 2009.
- Instagram was founded in 2010.
- Foursquare is the only one of the early major social networks in the United States that launched with an app and the ability to tie a post to a location. The others didn’t catch up until late 2010. And when they did:
- Facebook acquired Gowalla in 2011
- Sonar emerged but eventually died
- Everyblock has had its ups and downs but ended up shuttering as well (more on this in a bit)
So when geosocial was a heavy topic of conversation in 2010, social-on-the-go was a toddler. Since inception, social media has been grounds for activism, movements and connection. Location is the center of it all. Here are some of the basics:
- We all live somewhere where we wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night
- We all get food from a local grocery store or restaurant
- We get to work by foot, bike, car, bus or train
- We go to the local barber or salon when we need a cut
- We head to the local gym when we want a good workout
You get the gist. These are all fairly ingrained actions with the location being the destination and something that’s semi-ignored, and something technology wasn’t needed for — until it was.
What we’ve found is that location is more than just a “thing.” Location has a personality defined by all of the little moments that have happened there — it is the epicenter of experience.
Take a coffee shop, for example. People do work, drink coffee (obviously), meet new people, have interviews and study at their local coffee shops. They may post to social media while doing these things and then, when they’re done, they leave and move on to their next destination. But that post is a stamp on that location. It’s a mark that is added to the genetic makeup of that place. It adds to all of the other stories that happened there, actually giving the coffee shop a personality and memory.
Location is being realized and harnessed as a powerful, life-enhancing tool by entrepreneurs and startups.
Everything today is fueled by connections, knowledge sharing, reviews, promotions, opinions and thoughts. We base the meals we eat off of the popular likes of other diners. Social media is so permanently tattooed on our lives that layering in location actually helps bring us closer to things and experience that matter to each of us individually.
Geosocial wasn’t ripe for the picking in 2012 because we were still enamored with the power of the social networks to connect us to people that were far away, not nearby. Thanks to fast-paced innovation by social networks, people constantly crave more and we’ve discovered that location has been the glazed over piece that deserves the spotlight.
There have been small movements toward this shift:
- Facebook introduced its nearby friend feature.
- Twitter is working on a geo-feature that has been released to a select few.
- Instagram’s photo map lets you see all public pictures tied to a location.
- And Foursquare continues to give me intimate details about places right when I am about to walk in the door.
With the attention of the big social networks gravitating toward location enhancements, now is the time to really dig in to the location+social media power couple.
In a highly digitized and mobile-driven world, we pine for personalization. If the locations that surround us could be turbocharged to serve us their legacy knowledge left by people before us, we could be more informed and ultimately open to better and different experiences. In fact I can see us in the near future checking to make sure location-services is turned on before posting, to ensure that we’re taking part in this digitized location.
Geosocial is a space that has yet to be boldly defined. We admire others trying to bring it to the forefront, like Banjo, SocialRadar and Everyblock (which is now back to play one more time), and we’re looking forward to seeing how they continue to help throttle it forward.
Tony Longo is co-founder and CEO of CO Everywhere, a technology company that lets you follow the social activity happening in a specific location, anywhere in the world. CO Everywhere was formed in early 2012 and formally launched in August 2013.