MECO6936 Social Media Communication
Social, Locative, and Mobile Media
The advent of mobile phones brought about an era of communication that was no longer confined to landlines with limited usage and coverage. These pocket-sized devices have come a long way from only offering basic features such as calling and texting, to transforming into the mobile smartphones that we know and love today. Being able to support various social networking applications and to be linked with Internet connection, these ‘smart’ mobile devices are vastly different from their predecessors. The use of location-based services on phone applications, later on, has seen a change in the social online tapestry due to its locative nature. In order to delve deeper into this fascinating development, let us take a closer look at a chapter on “Social, Locative and Mobile Media” by Hinton and Hjorth (2013).
The triad concept of social, locative and mobile media is discussed and approached by the authors in terms of the integration of location-based services (LBSs) with social media and its convergence with mobile technologies. The authors stated that this joining has resulted in: cartographies being expanded by mobile applications that have LBS features, and location-based social applications that have helped induce a blend of social relationships with geography.
An interesting aspect that I would like to explore further is the dynamics between the user’s social relationships with their geographical places after the introduction of locative features on social applications. One of the most popular social networking sites to date is none other than Facebook. As of December 31, 2016, the site has 1.86 billion monthly active users and 1.74 billion mobile monthly active users (Facebook). A prime example is Facebook Places. Introduced in 2010, this mobile-only feature offers the ability to ‘Check-In’ at places by suggesting locations based on the where the users are. What has resulted from the use of this feature can be viewed, in my opinion, at a personal and business level.
On a personal level, users are known to use Places for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is to share what is happening to them and their friends at a particular time and place, as well as to see if their friends are also in the vicinity. Secondly, others have been known to use this setting to pinpoint their trails on a journey or a trip. By checking-in, they somehow are able to create a travel log for their trip as well as use it as an update for friends and family.
Business-wise, there are numerous instances where this social and locative feature have been turned into profit and used for business opportunities after seeing the potential of people and their interaction with places. For instance, restaurants can offer special promotions and discounts, and other incentives to customers who ‘check-in’ at their establishments. There is a sound reason for business owners to capitalize on this particular locative function. As Sarah Wai (2016) writes:
“If someone uses the Check-In function on Facebook when they visit your business, they are telling their friends on social media that they are currently at and enjoying your services or products. This results in free advertising, increased brand awareness, and is essentially an endorsement from that user.”
Another well-known and newest example from Facebook is Marketplace. Recently added in 2016, Marketplace is a feature that recommends products based on the users’ locations. Mary Ku, Director of Product Management, wrote in an article on Facebook Newsroom that Marketplace is “a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.” (Ku, 2016). The main component is, of course, the location of the products that the seller needs to confirm in order to post items for sale. Through this function, buyers and sellers are able to directly contact and negotiate with each other, as “Facebook does not facilitate the payment or delivery of items in Marketplace.” (ibid)
In relation to our unit of study, Social Media Communication, the concept of social and locative mobile media plays an important role in our understanding of the nature of social media. In fact, the concept encapsulates the ever-changing pace of technology and the rapid development of social media. The way we communicate, interact, play, and do business are shaped to, a certain extent, by the online world that we are in.
Thinking back to the work that we have done during the semester, the social and locative aspects of mobile media were also used. As part of a group project, my teammates and I were tasked with the promotion of a concert series for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. The work has led us to include the utilization of a number of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. One of the main aspects of the promotion campaigns is the relationship between people and places, which in our case is the Sydney Conservatorium of Music or The Con. In order to gain the attention of the target audience, attractive, creative, and engaging contents for the concert series need to be produced to gain more exposure for the event and The Con. Thus, the exact location of The Con is shared through its official Facebook page and other online platforms.
What does the future hold for social and locative aspects of mobile media? Personally, I believe the core concept and usefulness of integrating locative features and functions with the mobility of smart devices will still remain. However, the application of LBSs for many different other uses still remains to be seen. Also, companies and other businesses are not clamoring to get on the LBSs bandwagon as quickly as commonly predicted. As Hewlett Packard Enterprise puts it:
“Location-based services drive higher levels of customer attention and engagement while they help build stronger relationships and expand revenue streams. Yet enterprises have been slow to adopt these strategies. That’s a big mistake. Those enterprises that embrace these technologies will possess a unique communication advantage. And a decided competitive edge in the race toward our expanding, rapidly evolving digital future.” (Hewlett Packard Enterprise, 2016)
Locative aspect of social and mobile media is one of many points discussed throughout the course. Aside from this, one particular aspect or nugget of information that I find most interesting is how social media contents posted should be engaging, interactive, and personalized. Due to the near ubiquity of social media and the overflow of content coursing through different platforms simultaneously, it is imperative that the content produced need to be tailored especially for social networking platforms. Information needs to be updated on a regular basis and is easily assessable. In my line of work as a campaign coordinator at a national hospital, I can see the potential and usefulness of social media in reaching to the public and target audiences. If done properly, keeping in mind the important features of how online content should be presented, there is a good possibility that the reach and engagement with users will be relatively higher.
All in all, the concept of social, locative, and mobile media has been a widely discussed and researched topic. The authors, Hinton and Hjorth (2013), illustrated how mobile media has developed to rapidly become an important hub for social and locative media. The transformation has a number of implications on the users and their interaction with people and places. Facebook was chosen as a model for further exploration of the aforementioned concept due to its introduction of a number of locative functions on its platforms. Personal reflection on the unit of study and the work done during the course has shown that social and locative aspects have been discussed and incorporated into the lessons and projects we have done. The future of this concept is uncertain, but there is no sign of it slowing down or going away anytime soon.
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Facebook. (2017). Company Info. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from Facebook Newsroom: https://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/
Hewlett Packard Enterprise. (2016, March 24). Big Data is Watching: Why Location-Based Services Are the Future of User Engagement. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from Enterprise Forward: https://hpe-enterpriseforward.com/big-data-is-watching/
Hinton, J., & Hjorth, S. (2013). Social, Locative and Mobile Media. In J. Hinton, & S. Hjorth, Understanding Social Media. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Ku, M. (2016, October 3). News. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from Facebook Newsroom: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2016/10/introducing-marketplace-buy-and-sell-with-your-local-community/
Wai, S. (2016, April 14). Utilizing Facebook Check-Ins for Your Business. Retrieved April 18, 2017, from Tribute Media: https://www.tributemedia.com/blog/utilizing-facebook-check-ins-your-business