|This post written by Tim Chi, CEO of WeddingWire. Follow him on Twitter @wwtim. Tim first developed the concept of WeddingWire shortly after getting married in 2005 (to his lovely wife Tracey). As an experienced entrepreneur, Tim sought out to assemble a team and build a technology that would help both engaged couples and vendors in the wedding industry.
My prior career began in an online education company called Blackboard. During my tenure there, we were developing an online technology platform to help faculty and students better connect, learn, and share in the academic environment: a Learning Management System (LMS).
This year, the LMS acronym has crept back onto my radar but in a very different fashion: Local-Mobile-Social. I believe that this will be a big year for any technology companies that can get this combination correct.
In 2010, we saw some initial “pops” with some early LMS technology players such as FourSquare and GoWalla. Many quickly followed suit and you are now able to “check-in” with your Yelp app, your SCVNGR app, and late last year, your Facebook account. These smaller LMS companies saw some great user adoption due to the novelty of bringing a location-based context into everything else you already share via Twitter and Facebook.
However, we did not see any resounding success stories about how these companies actually drove success to the local establishments that were being “checked into”. Was the local business owner able to glean any consumer data from their clientele? Did it increase customer loyalty and drive repeat business? Certainly, being the “mayor” of Gaffney’s Pub in Bethesda, MD is a feat that I’d like all my friends to know about. But did that mean I spent more money there or visited it more frequently that I otherwise would have? Customer loyalty programs driven by location-based services seems like a no-brainer and a few brands such as Starbucks seem to have a handle (or at least the appetite) on how to channel it into more revenue.
This year is shaping up to be a different story. We’ve seen the phenomenal growth of the group-buying deals sites (Groupon, LivingSocial) which ARE driving customer success in very discrete and measurable ways for certain local verticals (restaurants, etc). They have the local and social side down pat, but haven’t yet moved into the mobile (specifically, location-based service) area yet.
I’m excited to see what new, innovative ideas are on the horizon for this sector in 2011, and specifically, if any solutions can truly help drive revenue, knowledge, or customer loyalty to small businesses.
Do you have any thoughts on how a Local-Mobile-Social solution could work best for you business?