When you think about the internet, you probably think of an intangible world of web pages that has little effect in your day to day life. Outside of your ‘real life’ friends that you share pictures and thoughts with on social networks, you might not realize how the online world affects your offline life.
Of course, the most obvious place to bridge the online-offline world is your favorite social networking sites. Event invitations on sites like Facebook, Plancast, and MeetUp regularly show up in my inbox and bring me to interesting events with interesting people.
Two favorite memories come to mind in my recent past. Last year I traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to see Warren Buffett speak at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting. My friend had his smart phone with him and we saw a Tweet mentioning the #BRK2010 Tweetup. We dropped in and made new friends, learned new things, and had a great time.
Just a few months back, I made a new friend on Twitter via a mutual friend, and we quickly became “Tweet buddies” sharing blog posts and tech ideas. That friend hosted a singles party for computer nerds in Boulder and broadcasted it on Twitter. A few weeks later I was enjoying a social evening in Boulder.
Spending and Commerce
The recent IPO filing of daily deals company Groupon is evidence that there is demand for online deals moving to offline venues. I have bought a few online coupons in the past (check out Yipit if you want one daily e-mail with relevant deals from multiple sites). Those took me to new restaurants and venues that I would not have found otherwise.
Another great bridge between your company and my wallet is Foursquare. What seems like a silly game of “check-ins” has grown to become a major advertising venue for businesses. On a recent visit to downtown Denver, I was about to check-in and noticed a restaurant down the street was offering a free beer for a first time check-in. I walked over with a group of friends, enjoyed my free beer, and stayed for a while. I would not have discovered that restaurant without Foursquare.
How Does Level 3 Fit In?
Several sites mentioned in this post rely on Level 3 for content delivery, hosting, and IP services. This moves beyond bandwidth to include a full service solution. Smart phone wielding customers are as eager as ever to interact with your company given the right opportunity. So, make it easy for them to check-in, Tweet, Stumble, Digg, Reddit, Like, and interact with your business. But don’t stress about losing potential customers, ensure you have a reliable, high performing website that meets your customer’s needs.