Like most PR and communications professionals, I’ve been paying attention to the location based companies and how this space is growing and capturing the attention of our brands. I met Tim Reeth, founder of Blasterous and took an immediate interest in what his company was doing with its location based services. Here’s my disclosure…I have no affiliation with Blasterous. The company is not a client. Tim is simply a new friend that I met on Twitter.
For those of you who don’t know Tim, he created Blasterous, a hyper-local service connecting people to the places they live, work or visit. Tim is also the CEO and Founder of Interoctavo, LLC. A software development company which builds consumer internet and social media applications. Interoctavo products include Blasterous, Yafalla, LocalHow and Zozzer.
Prior to founding Blasterous, Tim oversaw Product Management and User Experience for Friendster, the first social network. Prior to Friendster, Tim work as a user experience and usability professional with such companies as Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon, Siebel Systems and a variety of start-ups.
I thought that you might be interested in learning about Blasterous and to see how this company focuses on a local communications platform and the privacy of its users. Here is my Q&A with Tim about Blasterous and the growing location based market.
1. What is Blasterous and how is it different than other location based platforms including Facebook Connect and Foursquare?
Blasterous is a hyper-local communication platform. Our focus is to deliver meaningful local information to users in real-time so they can act on that information. In order to offer a meaningful experience, we have made the physical radius around the user as important a connection point as any personal relationship – as if your Zip Code was your first “friend” whereever you go.
There are times that I care more about what’s going on around me, even by strangers, than I do about what a former college dorm mate in another state is up too. Therefore, our platform is designed to make sharing and discovering what’s going on in your area easy and intuitive.
Of course if people want to share that information with friends and/or family they can. To help facilitate this, we’ve built many social features into our product; all designed to enhance the local experience. Our users can make connections, create and manage private lists, share photos, make recommendations, engage in one-to-one or one-to-many communication. Our belief is social interactions will occur naturally either on our network or in the physical world as a result of engaging online at the local level.
We’re not about badges or long lists of followers. So, while some services want to expose to the world where you’ve checked-in or want to distribute your network and activity across the web, we’re singularly focused on providing a simple solution for sharing and discovering what’s going on around you; all in the context of time and place. For us, it’s all about building tools that make it easy to participate in the stream of local activity, either as a consumer, contributor or both.
2. You recently launched Blasterous Business Pages. Why is it important for brands to have a presence on location networks and what do marketing and PR professionals need to know?
Reaching your customer in their local community has been a standard marketing practice for decades – a radio spot in NYC may not run in LA. But in the context of online advertising, a missing component of the marketing mix has been finding customers online and locally.
So last week we quietly released an update to our Places product called Blasterous Business Pages. Businesses of any size can now easily add their listing to our directory or claim their business if it’s already included in our directory of roughly 15M business. It’s a simple single page registration form and verification process, allowing brands to get up and running in minutes.
Because Blasterous is hyper-local, larger brands can execute campaigns at the street level and because our platform delivers information in real-time those campaigns can realize immediate responses; enabling businesses to quickly optimize any marketing effort.
A national brand can run a campaign for a specific duration and time it to coincide with what’s going on in that area. Brands may empower managers to come up with and run their own campaigns, allowing the business to make decisions daily on how to drive business to their venue. For example, a national pizza chain may run a campaign to correspond to the San Francisco Columbus Day festival tailored to the festival audience.
Brands don’t have to run campaigns to participate at the local level. A business or an agent of the business can engage in online conversations and add value to the community, thereby staying top of mind with locals. For instance, wouldn’t it be great if a real-estate agent suggested avoiding a specific location due to a break in a water main?
3. How does Blasterous address privacy concerns for consumers?
At the heart of Blasterous is user privacy and control. In developing all the location based functionality, we also identified an opportunity to help people and businesses connect with their own networks and easily create private conversations with a select audience of any size. A lot like a multi-author blog, our list product provides users private forums through which to connect and converse.
I, for example, have a “Family” list, which I use to share personal information such as photos of family members, travel plans and itineraries; most of which I am not comfortable sharing outside of the context of that list. Only those people I add to that list can contribute to it or see its contents. I also have a “Co-workers” list – each list is distinct, can be managed independently and the content and relationships are all siloed. Lists can also be used by businesses who may want to offer one group of customers something different than another; for instance specials as part of a loyalty program.
4. What will the future look like in the location space and what can our brands look forward to in this area?
The world is shifting quickly to “on demand”. More and more information will be available and increasingly close to real-time delivery. Tools will need to be able to sift through the real-time stream and pluck out the bits of relevant information and surface it to people when they want it.
For brands, we provide the targetedness of local and regional marketing with the efficiency of online media. With real-time analytics on real-time campaigns, brands will be able to tune a campaign on the fly, without costs associated with re-running a traditional campaign. Brands can become more creative and responsive as they compete for customers.
For customers, we’ll be more connected to our local area and less likely to hear about something at the Monday-morning-water-cooler that we would have loved to have done, had we only known about it.
With Blasterous, information will be accessible to people on demand, who will receive that information at the moment they are seeking it. Local is a big bucket and is where this on demand concept is most interesting. At least for us.
A little more about Blasterous:
Founded in September 2009, anyone can sign up for Blasterous and participate in sharing or discovering local activities and events. Blasterous is a privately held company and is headquartered in Burlingame, Calif. For more information, visit www.blasterous.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.