With the growing popularity of geolocation services like Gowalla and Foursquare, increasingly, a parallel can be drawn. There’s an increasing fascination with the concept of hyperlocal. Hyperlocal is on the rise and it’s pushed connectivity to a whole new level. But is there a saturation point? If so, are we about to or have we reached that saturation point? Have things become more relevant? Or too personal? To the first, my response is most likely, to the second not yet, to the third I’d say in some ways, and to the 4th at times yes. Here’s where hyperlocal gets it right, and where hyperlocal gets it wrong. First, how it gets it wrong.
1) When companies or brands get too personal. In July, WhitePages introduced its “Neighbors” feature, which allows users to see who their neighbors are and set up block parties with those neighbors http://bit.ly/qUw9WB. WhitePages needs to be careful with this feature. I would find it weird if one of my neighbors showed up with smartphone in hand, introducing themselves and stating they found me on WhitePages “Neighbors” feature. They really should allow people to opt out of being included in this.
2) When companies or brands go hypercasual. You’ve seen it, all the “lol” lexicon that came from instant messaging. Well, that and other too casual approaches are what make up hypercasual. Bobbie Johnson notes that there are strategic ways to be friendly and playful, like Flickr, and then there are others http://bit.ly/nJtwwS. If it’s unique, strategic, and appropriate to the company and to the brand, then its a smart move. When you relax your voice for social media and just say whatever comes to mind, share videos, etc. and customers leave? That is an example of being too friendly, and not being tapped into what your customers want from their relationship with you. Basically, think about what you say before you say it.
Now where hyperlocal gets it right.
1) When companies or brands get competitive. WhitePages, in addition to its creepy “Neighbors” feature, also released a free mobile app called ”Localicious” http://bit.ly/qUw9WB. “Localicious” integrates tips, trends and reviews of places in over 80,000 neighborhoods across the country and offers a pre-checkin check-in setup. Basically, WhitePages is adding a social dimension to its one-dimensional outlook and purpose as a print directory. In that regard, I applaud them. This makes them multi-purpose and puts them on a competitive level with geolocation apps, a smart move.
2) When companies or brands expand upon their bottom line, becoming more multi-dimensional. Yes, they already have a revamped Google Places, a daily deals component, and have added a more social dimension to search. Now Google is going local with their recent purchase of Zagat, a high-end restaurant and shopping reviews publisher http://bit.ly/qFRpWk. This addition, combined with search, offers more access to local resources and more ad space. For Google, hyperlocal is the logical next piece of the puzzle in transforming themselves into a multi-dimensional company. Also, unlike WhitePages’ “Neighbors” feature, they are playing it smart.
To sum it up, hyperlocal can be good when it adds another dimension to your offerings and makes you more competitive. Where it goes wrong is when it gets too personal or hypercasual. There’s a fine line, some know how to walk it and some go too far. The ones that walk the line will have an edge, and the ones that go too far are potentially flirting with disaster. These examples serve as case studies for how to use hyperlocal to your advantage and avoid its pitfalls. Case studies can only do so much though, it’s what you do with them that matters and how you use them that directs your future.