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Embracing social without becoming completely anti-social?

I’ve had a few reasons to go home to my parent’s house recently and every time I reach the driveway, I reach for my BlackBerry with dread before walking to the door.  Without fail, within 30 minutes I’m guaranteed to get asked “Will you please put that phone down?”


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being rude, just diligently checking Facebook, twitter and the blog – and those of our clients too.  Okay, it’s a little anti-social, but at a recent networking event I was faced with a statement of fact from the speaker: In a few years the ‘phone’ function of our phones will become incidental and we will realise the ambitions of those who have been banging the drum for social media for decades.  The speaker was right – the phone will quickly become one small part of a beloved handheld device that offers us so much potential and access to the world. 


Trying to explain this to the folks is another matter entirely – even Facebook has (fortunately, some would say!) evaded their home entirely.  Yet currently around 40 per cent of mobiles in the UK are smartphones – I’m not on my own here.   I think it’s a shame that they are missing out on something that is gathering pace at incredible speed. Gowalla, Foursquare and Facebook Locations could provide them with some amazing instant voucher deals for their favourite local restaurants soon – and Groupon and Chiconomise would be fantastic for offers for them.  And introducing them to these sites via the computer in their office just isn’t the same, in the world of instant information it doesn’t work like this!


Rant over, it’s actually my old fave Facebook that is really interesting me at the moment – this week will launch its first store inside Facebook, allowing customers to buy its entire range from within the social network – so it’s a matter of months before this development in shopping becomes the norm.  Farmville and other social gaming apps continue to grow, creating direct revenue via Facebook credits which could reach over $1 billion in the next year.  Who knows the potential, even in the next six months, for this social network with over 600 million users worldwide? ‘F-Commerce’ – I love this term, although I’m not sure my bank balance is about to.


And with the advent of the tablet, from the IPad 2 which should launch later this year to other android-based devices, manufacturers are continuing to push the boundaries of life as we know it.  Predictions show that well over 50 million tablets will be sold by 2015.


The challenge in my work life is to keep ahead of developments, to apply these to work with clients and Refresh PR and make sure we capitalise on the exciting developments coming in the next few years.  The challenge in my home life is to help my parents become part of this phenomenon – mum’s already spending hours at a time on her DS since new games championed by the lovely Mr & Mrs Redknapp arrived under the tree this Christmas.  So, teaching them (and myself too it would seem) to become social while not becoming completely anti-social in the process will be an interesting one.    


It’s going to be a busy year!




Tagged with: F-Commerce, Facebook, Foursquare , Groupon, North West , PR, Public Relations, Silver Surfers