One of the events that I was looking forward to today long before I even considered going the press route for Internet Week was a panel on “Mobile Applications in the Modern World.” The panel was moderated by Phil Thomas DiGiulio, a serial entrepreneur, and featured three speakers in areas not traditionally thought-of as forefronts of social and mobile media: food, real estate, and travel.
Phil added a few excellent framing thoughts to the discussion. While discussing his “come to Jesus” iPhone moment (helping an elderly lady find a church while in a neighborhood still new to him), he described the change in the zeitgeist created by devices such as the iPhone. They “pick up info in a way that wasn’t afforded to us previously.” Like so many others in the forefront of the industry have stated in other conferences at which I’ve been in attendance, we are teaching ourselves that sharing online is the norm. As Phil described, “we drop off tidbits of data that others can find and use.” Crowd-sourced data has become the repository from which Web-2.0 draws.
Jason Anello, the creative director at Manifold and co-founder of http://forkingtasty.com, focused many of his comments on engagement. Social media in the restaurant industry is just a natural extension of a dinner table conversation. Online communication about food is just table conversation at a distance. While he always advises the normal line that you need to be in the conversation online, he cautions that you shouldn’t just jump in. The key is to know why you’re in the conversation and to choose the appropriate channels. You need to make sure that you’re choosing the channels that are relevant to what you have to say, and that you’re not just communicating to fill the silence on your poorly-chosen channel.
Matthew Shadbolt, the director of online marketing at the Corcoran Group, sees a logical connection between the classic “location, location, location” mantra of real estate and location-based services. Consumers are always asking what’s near them when they are looking for a home, and collaborative services allow them to mine the knowledge of neighborhood experts. This addition of lifestyle information also has added value to the realtor, as it moves the action of searching away from a traditionally dry experience. The idea of harnessing relevant expertise also interests him in a greater sense, as he recognizes the value of friend-based filtering in the social graph.
Brian Simpson (director of social hospitality at the Roger Smith Hotel) views the collaboration between management and guests in promoting a hotel as a natural extension of the in-person interactions that have existed for as long as the industry. His individual contribution pales in comparison to the wealth of crowd-sourced content from others. Everyone wants to be “first”, so they are eager to share info, check-ins, and local tips and “secrets” that hotels can use to build a story for potential guests.
The panel didn’t teach me anything new (although I’m curious how I can weasel my way into one of the supper clubs that Jason described running. Maybe I need to mine his guests’ Foursquare check-ins.) However, it does demonstrate how social media and collaborative services are important to almost any industry.