2013: The Year for SoLoMo in South Africa?

SoLoMo is a buzz-word that has been doing the rounds for the past couple of years but, according to some analysts, 2013 could be the year it takes off. For those unfamiliar with the term, SoLoMo is a contraction of Social, Local, and Mobile, referencing the convergence of social media, geo-location technology and mobile devices. There is an interesting infographic on the Nielsen blog which explains how this all works and why it is potentially a marketer’s dream.

In an article on Wired, Michael Szewcyk writes:

For a consumer, mobile devices now offer ways of receiving personalized information in real time based on their location. This process was previously lent to searching via a desktop before departing for your destination, offering limited options as to what you’re searching for and little or no options for the retailer to connect with you. Whether you’re within a retailer’s location, walking by it, or in the vicinity — your mobile device acts as a butler that services you with information on what’s going on in your area. Perhaps you’ve shopped at a retailer before that you’re half a block away from. That retailer can now send you a notification with a promotion thanking you for your loyalty should you choose to shop there again. Want to see reviews and ratings for a restaurant you can’t decide on from people in your demographic or maybe even from your friends, or purchase a item directly from your mobile device to avoid standing in line? You can do those things too.


South Africa, where mobile internet is fast becoming the norm, could be at the forefront of this movement. Combined with developments in mobile payment services, thereby eliminating the need for credit cards which currently excludes much of the population from participating in online shopping, SoLoMo could be a boon for local, online retailers. As Vanessa Clark writes in BizCommunity:

This catalyst (for SoLoMo in South Africa) is mobile money and these services could give customers access to products and services that would have previously been out of reach, allow businesses to reach customers they would never have dreamt of being able to deal with, and give these companies an effective way of managing their businesses.

SoLoMo also opens opportunities for local content publishers, who now have the potential of leveraging local advertising revenue streams against the cost of content production and providing sustainability for hyperlocal publishing ventures that attract a community that small businesses and local service-providers can accurately target, both online and in the ‘real world’.

This is a trend that could have the potential to dramatically change the South African digital landscape and let’s hope 2013 is the year it moves from hype to reality.

Do you know of any successful SoLoMo businesses in South Africa? Add the details in the comment section.

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