The Grid: keeping South Africans connected

In a social-media saturated world, there always seems to be room for one more social network with an innovative approach to keeping its users connected. The Grid is a South African mobile social network that allows users to chat to their friends, keep track of their locations, and share things they like, from a cell phone or computer.

The GridAs Charles Ash of Marketing Web explains, The Grid is essentially a mapping system, connecting your cell phone or computer into a social network that uses cell phone mast triangulation to detect location. Once your location has been mapped, you are able to see which of your friends are in your immediate vicinity, with a one to five kilometre variance so that privacy and safety is maintained.

Apart from having your location and that of your contacts mapped, The Grid also allows you to post videos and comments of the places you have just visited – a means of sharing information unique from any other social media platform, as it combines elements of social networking, instant messaging and mapping technology to create a digital trail for each user.

This relates to the blogpost I wrote yesterday, looking at the way in which information comes to us through social media and the opportunity this creates for businesses to market themselves, or be marketed, by word-of-mouth. The Grid presents the possibility for increased business when it is considered that a user could post a comment about his or her experience at a restaurant, shop, etc and this comment would be read by his or her contacts within a one to five kilometer vicinity, who therefore have easy access to the same restaurant or shop and are more likely to take the advice of their friend than they would be to take heed of a conventional advert.

The creators of The Grid do have plans to commercialise the service, allowing businesses to market themselves for a fee and resulting in purpose-made adverts for local businesses being available for download as soon as you are within their range. It will be interesting to see how users take to the introduction of this service, as opposed to simply relying on the information posted by their contacts. Where such an application may be beneficial is for tourists, who would be able to use The Grid to locate tourist destinations and places of interest.

In the meantime, The Grid serves South African users who wish to keep in touch with their friends and the world around them, and is able to translate this from online to offline by means of the appropriate location information it offers, as well as the recommendations about these locations from trusted contacts it provides. This is not possible on other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which may offer much broader networks of users, but do not offer the same day-to-day relevance in users’ immediate communities.

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