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The One Thing Every Social Media Site Is Failing At (Except LinkedIn)

IStock_000001114792XSmall I have account with most social media sites that you have probably heard of, and a few that you probably haven't. It's not from being super socially connected, but rather from my desire to experiment and try new tools to see what value they might offer for me and for the businesses I work with. Over the last year, though, I have uncovered one important thing that most social media sites do tremendously badly and that I hope someone will fix.

As much as I enjoy my virtual friendships, there is still a huge value for me in connecting in person with people to meet face to face. Despite how easily social media and social networks help us to connect with people we know or might know online, the most popular sites (Facebook and Twitter, in particular) fall short when it comes to helping people meet up in real life. Here are a few of the challenges;

  1. Very difficult to search and filter your networks by location, and then to send them a message.
  2. Lack of data on where people actually are, versus what network they usually belong to or where they live.
  3. No integration between networks on multiple sites to allow me to see all my connections in a particular location.

To date, there are three models I have seen from sites who are trying to solve one small part of this challenge:

  1. Meetup/Evite/Twtvite – organize an event, invite people directly and hope they show up (and that you have their emails).
  2. Foursquare/Gowalla – broadcast where you are RIGHT NOW and hope that others in your network are there too.
  3. Plancast/Dopplr – broadcast where you WILL BE in the future and hope that others in your network will be there too.

Each tackles the problem slightly differently, but none has a complete solution that really works. The one site that is an exception to this happens to be LinkedIn. What that site knows is that not only do I want to be connected with people, but I might find great value in being able to send a message to all my friends in Boston (for example) letting them know I will be in town and that I would love to connect.

Why is this simple task so hard and who else will step up to solve it? That is one of the central questions that more and more people will be asking … mainly because meeting face to face still matters, and I believe it always will.

8 thoughts on “The One Thing Every Social Media Site Is Failing At (Except LinkedIn)”

  1. thats true. all that social media stuff is new, is awesome is … well .. terrible. to my mind all of these virtual friend plattforms should disappear :/ real life is the only one 😀

  2. The sites that you mention, including LinkedIn, are primarily built on the premise of disclosing your location. With LinkedIn becoming more popular as a recruiting engine, job candidates need to provide their location to come up in searches. But I don’t see it as a ‘must’ on sites like Slideshare, Facebook, etc. Twitter came out with the ability to add a location to tweets not too long ago but who is really doing this? Are you Rohit?

    I like the general idea of your post and believe that we should publish our homebase but when we get into where I am at each point in a day, it honestly makes me a little nervous for my security.

    Would love to see a solution that brings us all together in ‘real life’ in real time.

  3. Christina makes a great point and ends with a solid hope: Technology facilitating real-life, organic interactions.

    It seems that much of these location based functions are facilitated through Smartphones. My question is, will there be a service strictly made for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry etc. that uses push notifications to connect with people by region.

    You could stay on-the-go, text a message to clients, friends, partners whatever and keep on progressing forward with your endeavors.

    I believe that Smartphones are a happy medium between the extremity of internet connections and face to face encounters.

    Sounds good to me.


  4. Thank you for another fantastic blog post. Where else could I get this kind of information written in such an incite full way. I find it very interesting to read and I love the points that you expressed! I’m looking forward to your next blog post! Keep sharing!!!

  5. Good point. I think social media can reinforce connections and make connecting more efficient. I don’t think we’ll ever reach the point where physically meeting someone will be replaced.

  6. Here’s the specific reason why they don’t do location-specific messaging: Real-life in-person interactions are infinitely more rewarding, personable, enjoyable, real, human and significant than Facebook or Twitter.


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Rohit is the author of 9 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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