Last week, I said that the real money and growth potential in location-based services is not in people telling the world where they bought their coffee, but with the ability of less public admission of involvement with community.
Most people are not really comfortable having their personal doing publicly broadcast, or at least not being able to control what goes out and who sees it. This is the potential killer of social media growth. They will, however, share lots of stuff within a small circle of people they know... and no one else. This is the market that some social media startups are starting to exploit.
Location-based services are an outstanding way for individuals to support local businesses and non-profits without ever letting the outside world know it's happening. Within their communities they can share what they support and even compete in game-play for community activism. As I mentioned, DeHood is putting significant resources looking into how this can be implemented. Ark.com has already launched a platform that allows individuals to make online donations to their favorite charities, just by shopping online. Some of the major players are sniffing around this idea, but they are struggling to change their mindset from reaching billions of people to reaching groups of hundreds and less.
But where is the money? Well, if you just look at the potential for administrating donations to non-profits it's a $15-30 billion market just in the US. That doesn't count the potential market for goods and services in local businesses. How much could that be? Who knows. But small business revenue comprised more than 50 percent of last years GDP, so it's around $7 Trillion.
The value of social media is not in the sheer size of a market, but in the individual.