The Consumer As Waldo: Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook Care Where You Are; Do You?

Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week

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Some notes about, and context for, the latest weekly Trendrr chart, a collaboration between Advertising Age and social-media tracking service Trendrr Pro:

  • This is the "Year of Location," everybody in the tech media keeps saying, as geo-focused social-networking services like Foursquare and Gowalla keep growing their user bases and grabbing VC dollars. (Check out my colleague Edmund Lee's take on Foursquare's recent $20 million infusion.)
  • "None of us have 30 million users," Loopt CEO Sam Altman told USA Today yesterday, in a rather deft understatement (Loopt has 3 million users). "But we're just at the beginning of breaking into the mainstream."
  • But what counts as mainstream? Will the growth of location-focused services fuel the trend -- can your average, middle-American mobile consumer really be convinced of the value of constantly "checking in" to locations? -- or will the seamless inclusion of location capabilities into the likes of Facebook and Twitter do more to drive adoption? In mid-June, for instance, Twitter formally announced the launch of Twitter Places. In the thick of World Cup mania, the official Twitter blog noted, "It helps to know where a Tweet is coming from -- is that person watching the game on TV or is he actually in the stadium?"
  • So, where are most tweets coming from so far? Twitter hasn't revealed how many users (as a proportion of the total user base) are electing to reveal their locations, but among those that are, well, no surprise: Tweets classified as being "near" New York City are dominating, lately showing twice the volume -- roughly a million geo-specified tweets a day -- of the next runner up, Los Angeles. Chicago's in third place, and San Francisco's in fourth.
  • Let's dwell on that for a moment: Urban hipsters (and de facto tech early adopters) want the world to care where they are at any given moment, and marketers are being told that it matters. But consider the average daily life of an average American, which might not involve prideful trips to the new "it" bar or hot party or recently opened boutique. I'm thinking it's more like: back and forth to work, one weekly trip to Walmart, a couple trips to the Shop-Rite, a stop at Walgreens to pick up a tube of antifungal cream, a back-and-forth to the mall multiplex on Friday night, a back-and-forth to the kids' soccer practice Saturday morning, etc.
  • Let's step back a moment and just admit it: Location is interesting when it's interesting ... but usually it's not. Sorry, Twitter, but the vast majority of people tweeting about the World Cup weren't actually in the stadium.

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Dumenco's Trendrr Chart of the Week is produced in collaboration with Wiredset, the New York digital agency behind Trendrr, a social- and digital-media tracking service, and Curatorr, a social media filtering and publishing platform. More background here. Trendrr offers a free trial account; Trendrr Pro, which offers more robust tracking and reporting tools, comes in various paid flavors (get the details here).

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco. The latest Ad Age Insights white paper is titled "Dumenco's State of the Media Report," and subtitled "From social media to search, print, broadcast and beyond, where ad-supported media stands now and where it's going." It's available right here.

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