After coming back from SXSW I was suffering a bit from social media fatigue. Despite deliberately avoiding panels that had social media in any part of the description (always a rehash of the same stuff; the gems at SXSW are in random, bizarre and more pure tech based panels – oh and Clay Shirky), the endless talk about location based services being the next social media landgrab left me feeling a bit, well, bored of it all. Apart from my chat with the lovely James Hart of course
And I’m even more dulled by the never ending “10 ways to demonstrate social media ROI”, “5 ways to build a blog”, “3 ways to skin a cat” blah blah blah.
Then I saw this post by Will McInnes about how taking a break from work, on holiday in the real world, made it even clearer to him how much of a feedback loop the world of social media can be, “Because it has got a bit cluttered and noisy and samey and frankly, a bit overwhelming hasn’t it?” I couldn’t agree more.
But then, just when I was feeling particularly jaded, I had a lovely experience that reminded me of why social media can be hugely enabling. I’ve talked before about the power of social media to build communities but down in London last week I came across a fantastic example. Tweetalondoncab are a collective of London black cab drivers who have got together to offer direct bookings of black cabs via twitter. It’s a great service and one I’d highly recommend. But it’s not the service itself that I wanted to mention, it’s the way in which their use of twitter has helped to build an offline community for the drivers.
My driver was @cabbydavid and he explained how twitter has been fantastic for building a network of like minded friends,”I love it, if it’s 2am and I’m quiet, I just tweet that I’m going to xyz cafe for a cup of tea and I meet up with some of the other cabbies for a chat”. He went on to say that using twitter had expanded his circle of friends and made the whole experience of being a London cab driver, just, well, better. Simple, effective and a reminder that social media doesn’t have to change the world, sometimes it’s enough that it helps us connect with others.
As an aside, we talked briefly about how they could incorporate Foursquare or Gowalla into their services. I’m still pondering this one; tie-ups with cafes, bars? 10% discount offered for cab journeys from various specific check-ins? If anyone has any bright ideas, I know @cabbiescapital would love to hear them.
Oh and I reckon @jackcabnory‘s audioboo election updates will be well worth a listen.