Using Social Media To Make Offline Products More Meaningful

We may have pushed the digital image to its shareable limit, but there is still something nice about that framed desk photo (or album, or personalized tennis shoes).

With Google Street View, Yelp, Foursquare and a host of other location-aware technologies, we have successfully uploaded the world onto the Internet. It’s not enough, though, to have achieved augmented reality—the hyped tech trend that developers and entrepreneurs enthused over back in 2009. Now, as we stream the human experience 24-7, through our mobile devices and social services like Facebook and Instagram, the process is being, yet again, flipped on its head.

First, Some Cultural Context

Today’s human experience has been uploaded as a hazy, sutro-filtered snapshot, a carefully curated bite-sized moment to be easily digested and then swiped away by ever-hungry thumbs…While easily consumed, none of this is meaningful or exists in our very real world.

Bringing the Feed Offline

What today’s social retailers are getting right is that the most compelling content to consumers these days is the media created by the consumers themselves. Like a photo booth or Splash Mountain snapshot, the product is compelling because it captures a story and memory. 

Yes, people’s lives are now instantaneous and attractive—and as people can better document their real-world experiences, they’re finding new ways to bring their lives, now shared in Facebook and edited in Instagram, back off the news feed and into their surroundings. Services like Blurb turns your Facebook photos into photo books.

Two fundamental components that drive companies around this model:

- These online social interactions are inherent in modern relationships and people have, through technology, become much more creative.

- If companies allow their customers to feel empowered in both aspects, the product could be as compelling and as viral as the media that personalizes it.

Beyond the Wall

While our interactions have become increasingly casual, we’re no less sincere in our relationships and interactions.

But up until now, brands and companies have been aiming to bring in revenue by drumming up conversations and interactions around these events instead of developing products directly from these conversations.

The ultimate goal for these and future companies is to turn these social feeds into a product and revenue source. This is the most meaningful content on the web today, and the race is on.

Kealan Lennon is the CEO of Cleverbug. Find him on Twitter at @kealanlennon.

[Image: Flickr user Kris Krug]


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