SoLoMo: Buzzword or Real Trend?

Have you been hearing about this buzzword yet? SoLoMo is a term coined by venture capitalist John Doerr to describe the convergence of Social, Local and Mobile technologies.  But it’s more than a buzzword.  Many would say it’s real evidence we’ve moved into a post-PC world.


It’s a world that’s powered by the ever-increasing adoption of smartphones.  A March 2012 study by Nielsen showed that more than 50% of U.S. mobile subscribers used smartphones, an increase from only 36% a year earlier.  The growth rate is expected to accelerate, with other studies predicting that the majority of internet traffic will come from mobile devices as early as 2015.

So, why is that important?  Because it’s a game changer for consumers and marketers alike.  The convergence of these technologies allows consumers to consume media content in more locations, at more times of their choosing.  It moves the consumer even further down the scale of empowerment, allowing them to be active online at almost any time or location, while connecting them in real time to their social graph, their network, peer opinions and advice.  The implications for marketers are dramatic, in terms of targeting, data, measurement and pure disruptive power.

Currently, most SoLoMo applications take the form of what you might call Location-Based Engagement.  It’s usually a mobile activity conducted either through a smartphone application, or the mobile. web.  These activities include local search, photo tagging, checking in, leaving tips and reviews, redeeming offers, posting status updates, responding to ads, and tagging tweets.  The common thread is local discovery, and it’s very different from the desktop-based search paradigm.  SoLoMo is more about pushing things to you, based on where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re socializing with.

Who are the players in SoLoMo?  It’s the big ones you’d expect, like Google, Facebook, Foursquare, Groupon and Yelp.  But it also includes a many new innovators like Forkly, Localmind, Spottd, Zaarly, Loqly, AskAround and Highlights.  And don’t forget about Apple.  With this week’s announcement of the new iOS mobile operating system, Apple is clearly taking aim at location-based services, local search, and mobile payments among its millions of users.

As marketers, we should continue to ask ourselves how this major shift affects our audiences, and the ways we interact with them.  While the names of the hottest apps and mobile websites may come and go, we believe the shift away from the desktop is going to continue moving full steam ahead.  Welcome to the post-PC era!

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