My Friends Tell Me Where To Go
One of the great promises of Social Media is the ushering in of Web 3.0 or the semantic web. The basic premise is that the web knows you and therefore serves up relevant information… before you even ask or query for it (er, Google it.)
For early examples, see recommendation engines on sites like Amazon, Netflix, Pandora, and others. As you and I serve up more and more data to these algorithm crunching machines, the hope is they will serve up better suggestions for us.
The Future is Now
But what if the era of web 3.0 has already begun? I would argue that the web already knows you. In fact, it tells you things you want to know before you even knew you wanted to know it. And all of this is accomplished with one of the oldest technologies known to man: people. Specifically, your friends.
If you use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc then you have decided to opt in to your friends daily updates. With every status update, photo album, and any other piece of content shared they are influencing you with their daily activities, buying decisions, et al.
Killer Apps, Killer Influence
Social media apps offer a vast array of features to connect friends, but all features are certainly not created equal when it comes to peer influence.
Below is a closer look at how our friends are telling us where to eat, travel, play, etc via the Big 3 Social Apps of 2010:
Facebook’s killer app: photo sharing + news feed
What happens in Vegas stays on Facebook. Everytime one of your friends posts photos from their recent trip to __________ (fill in the blank with fun looking place) it begs the question: “why haven’t I been there yet/lately?”
Foursquare/Gowalla’s killer app: local
You’re driving around town minding your own business when a friend checks in at a local Irish Pub. You pull it up on Google Maps and realize it’s five minutes away. One quick phone call later, you’re pulling up a chair and enjoying some delicious bangers and mash.
Twitter’s killer app: real time suggestions
Ever find yourself with a little extra layover time or headed to an unfamiliar city for a couple days? Yelp, Google Maps, and other local search engines are perfect when you know what you’re looking for, but what if you don’t?
Float a quick question to your friends on Twitter and assuming you have a decent amount of followers, sit back and wait for them to tell you exactly where to go and what to do.
You could boil it down to one stat really: 78% of people trust peer recommendations, only 14% trust advertisements… as for the other 8% I think those are the robots living amongst us.
So what does this all mean to the travel industry? When my friends visit your destination, hotel, tourist attraction, etc they are telling me about it often in real time. And, assuming it was a positive experience, I just became significantly more likely to follow in their footsteps.
If you work at a travel destination what are you doing to give your guests a reason to share interesting experiences with their social networks? Think Kodak Picture Spot…on steroids.
What do you think? How can businesses tap into these social streams more to drive awareness, leads, etc? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.