New movement has come into the Internet market due to three factors: a growing usage of a new kind of internet access (mobile), a changing focus (local), and greater involvement of the Internet in everyday life (social). This movement is summarized by the neologism "SoLoMo".
To clarify the individual components of SoLoMo, let’s start by discussing them individually:
- Social: Over the past years, the social media market has been growing strongly. Key drivers have been social networks and blogs, forums, micro-blogging services and video- as well as photo-sharing sites. Overall, "social” largely stands for accessible, kind of non-hierarchical, and partially grassroots communication and interaction over the network. Barrier-free insofar, as spatial distances represent no obstacle to the exchange. Non-hierarchical, because the users interact at eye level. The exchange of views on the social media has grassroots traits, since popular rejection is easily expressed and opposing views can be rapidly spread, so others can find it. Opinions can reach a large range of people and based on the popularity or the rejection of many, the votes take place constantly, which can then be used to define online as well as offline trends. The social communication on the Internet, therefore, is similar to the social exchange offline. The main subjects are entertainment, exchange of opinions and gossip, interaction and mobilization. Only with the difference of being barrier-free, non-hierarchical, and democratic.
- Mobile: Mobile access to the Internet is becoming commonplace due to the technical development of smartphones. The mobile user is online anywhere, anytime. Though currently mobile Internet access is most commonly used for retrieving emails or finding specific information, the mobile Internet will take an increasing role in the local environment and the social environment in the future. The technological development in the field of localization and navigation services was a big boost for this development, as the direct environment became suddenly more focus for mobile Internet usage. By now, the performance of navigation devices is increasingly displaced by offers of smartphones. Here, a better usability benefits the smartphones which can additionally score with the consumer compared to the navigation services - especially through the use of social media. Simplified access and intuitive operation of social represent important milestones on the way to the permanent users who stay permanently online via mobile devices in conjunction with the map and localization services. By and by, mobile Internet usage is constantly becoming easier, more intuitive and useful for everyday use. Therefore, this phenomenon will not only apply to a specific Internet savvy group of online users, but in the medium-term include the majority of all mobile users.
- Local: So far the Internet primarily served to connect to the global network. The direct environment of a user was neglected for a long time. With social media, a first step was made to include the social environment of a user on the World Wide Web. Now, mobile devices offer a variety of new functions, which can also involve the geographical environment of the user, which is putting the social and spatial environment of the user in focus. This technical progress has direct impact on the surfing behavior of the user and has long lasting effect on the use of the Internet. The increasing local use of the Internet brings forth new Internet offerings specifically tailored to this local usage demand.
SoLoMo creates the connection of the offline and the online world
New technological developments now allow for the merging of the individual components to SoLoMo. Not representing an isolated Internet phenomenon, but rather only mirroring the thinking and acting of people online, social media, mobile Internet and local services finally are technically able to depict the everyday life of people in the digital world.
The Internet meets the local demands of the user, delivering a concrete added value, no matter in which spatial and social environment he/she is moving in. This added value can manifest itself in many ways: Numerous new successful business models have emerged in the last few years, attempting to establish local added value for the mobile user, who e.g. tries to find his way in an unknown environment, to inform friends about his current location, or to be able to find car parks or restaurants. The demand, as well as the possibilities, can be endless. The need to mirror the spatial and social environment online is enabled not only through localization or map services, but also through social networks and assessment platforms.
SoLoMo has always existed in the offline world
People are social beings. That’s a fact! They create and maintain circles of family, acquaintances and friends. People are locally oriented. They primarily perceive their surroundings and want to find their way around. People are mobile. Mobility is the core of human progress and has become a basic need in times of globalization.
SoLoMo, therefore, is not new to us. The only thing new about it is that recent technical developments now also mirror the mobile, social and local aspect of people's lives –accompanying the offline life and enriching it. The actual phenomenon of SoLoMo is that the user must not change or adapt to new circumstances. Rather, the technical possibilities to adapt to the natural action of the people provide a tangible benefit for many everyday situations.
The demand for SoLoMo is therefore already part of the basic behavior of people. The success of the respective offers, however, will depend on how well they succeed in meeting this demand. Technological progress creates new application areas, which change the use of the Internet, but the more these technical developments support the people in the offline world, the merrier SoLoMo will guide the user through everyday life.
SoLoMo is the crucial step in the "augmented reality"
Offline content can be recorded, processed and enriched with digital information. Whoever moves with a smartphone through a city today, can retrieve information about his location online. Streets, buildings, and shops can be detected and the real city tour is supplemented by virtual information. Online content is now more than ever in direct relation to the offline world. At the same time, the offline world is reflected more accurately than ever through online offerings.
SoLoMo will change consumer behavior as well as the alignment of many companies. There are virtually unlimited possibilities of personalized and targeted advertising that provide sustainable activity through SoLoMo. The future advertising that is geared to SoLoMo, will offer greater transparency, more product information and ultimately a higher relevance of the purchase offer, because it is closer to the point of sale.
By Daniela La Marca