This is a guest post by valued friend, Zi Qian, who practices law at Singaporean Law Firm Rajah and Tann and is a commentator on technopreneurship in East-Asia. An adapted version is pending publication by China Daily.

Social network

Investing in Social Technologies, Help Pave The Way.

We are witnessing the start of a migration movement for our generation, where individuals seek to find an online equivalent for what they do offline. Finding friends online, sharing music, shopping, chatting, singing and most importantly, doing business online. Emerging social networks today are what caves were to Homosapiens when they migrate out of Africa 50,000 years ago – a platform to congregate and consolidate.

Hence, investing in social technologies must definitely be aligned with this movement. Good applications must enable the community achieve greater convenience and enhance an individual’s capacity to capitalise on the advantages from the interconnectivity.

Bet #1 Better Experience through Location Base Technologies

You only have that number of eyes and ears. What’s limiting about them is the fact that they cannot tell you what you don’t know, what you have missed or should have seen or heard. That means you may never get information that you ought to have known just by relying on them. Location based technologies enhances an individual’s capacity to create value for themselves by generating opportunities and answers when time, location and human factors converge. This helps people maximise what they can see and know in a given location by expanding their sight through the connectivity bestowed by smart phones.

One will never be able to tell that the geeky blonde in your 3’oclock direction is actually the Indie designer that you have been looking to find for your startup. Unsocial ( http://unsocial.mobi/), a location-based mobile apps seeks to let you know people you would otherwise have not known. This mobile app combines both LinkedIn and Foursquare. It is designed for business users to network and meet with people they don’t know, probably should know and who happens to be within proximity.  Functions such as integrated messaging, information and phone numbers exchange further strengthen one’s capacity to network.

Want to know what is the best and cheapest way to spend your time in a particular place? Or simply, just wanting to find the best deals in town? Find out from those around you! Drumo (http://drumo.com) allows one to ask and answer questions from people around you in cities where the service is provided. This allows the best local advice to be given to users even when one is new to a City. As the model can be replicated in many different cities, scalability becomes a non-issue. Currently, the service is available in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Osaka, Hong Kong, and Bangkok.

The Chinese attributes success to the harmonising of timing, geography and human factors(天时,地利,人和). Location based applications is doing just that to help users better align their stars before they hurry off.

Bet#2 Better Market Sense through Social Marketing

Comments, complaints and market talk form the core for market intelligence. It will be ideal if such information can be consolidated the moment they are being expressed. Real time customer feedback is most valuable. Applications which can shorten the time in which such information passes on from customers to businesses will in effect be facilitating market supply to respond better to market demands.  In short, social marketing applications, being complementary to the online migration movement help businesses better their sense for the market.

Web Applications Wildfireapp and Wildfire.Asia (http://www.wildfireapp.com and http://www.wildfire.asia/) are such examples. They help users grow and engage one’s desired market by managing available social networks. These applications leverage on the expansion of social networks by capitalising on “online market talk” as sufficient substitution for real-time customer feedback. In the online migration movement, customers express their views through their online persona, bringing about the demand for new forms of customer engagement.

Wildfireapp provide a series of products and services to help business better engage their customers through social networks. The business can be understood to be an online public relation firms where strategies are provided to sharpen customer engagement online.

Wildfire.Asia is a Singapore start-up and is similar in principle. It relies more heavily on the familiar concept of Word of Mouth (“WOM”). It develops and activates an army of consumer influencers to be the eyes, ears and mouth for businesses – to see and hear what customers are talking about them, and to advocate their strengths.  Tracking platforms are also developed for users to know the effect of their changes/ improvements after hearing information gotten from WOM.

More businesses are riding the migration wave by securing an online presence. This growing trend will only increase the demand for social marketing applications as more businesses and their customers go digital.

The Way Forward

Investors interested in social technology must pay attention to both the sociological and technological aspects of the migration movement – determining which aspect of human life will go digital and how will it go digital. At a macro level, social marketing is tied to the mega trend of online migration while location based technologies helps develop the environment for businesses to migrate at the micro level. With this trend being almost a certainty, my bet goes to two above mentioned.

 

 

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