Mobile phones for Estate Agents - the digital Swiss Army Knife in your pocket

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Mobile phones for Estate Agents - the digital Swiss Army Knife in your pocket

Mobile phones for estate agentsFrom our correspondent in New York - Troy Stanley gives Resource Techniques a firsthand account of the Inman Estate Connect Conference.

'Smart phones were another hot topic at the Connect Conference. Estate Agents love showing each other their favourite mobile, app and talking about the latest phone - Google's Nexus One. Although, without a doubt the most popular phone of the whole conference was the iPhone. In a show of hands for "Who has the iPhone", 60-70% of agents put their hand up.

In the end all smart phones have a set of features that they all share in common, such as the ability to call, text (SMS), send picture (MMS), a camera, an internet connection and a built in GPS, it is the GPS that now gives mobile phones that extra dimension.

A presentation conducted by Dennis Crowley, founder and CEO of Foursquare really opened my eyes to the amalgamation of mobile GPS and social networking. The keynote address entitled 'Capturing the Mobile, Local and Social Phenomenon' explained how Dennis established Foursquare. Dennis explained how at Foursquare they integrated mobile GPS with social networking.

Foursquare is currently a mobile GPS application on the iPhone, Android and Palm webOS whilst also having a website to view stats, history and friends. Via the mobile application, people are able to connect with online friends and share their current location, whilst being awarded points for 'checking in' at various locations. Checking into one place more than anyone else will make you a virtual 'mayor' of that location, and users can add new places giving them extra points.

The application really takes off from the hints and tips added by Foursquare users. Using outstanding initiative, users have started to create a sub-culture with an almost Masonic element to it. Going into a bar, a Foursquare user can see off-the-menu drinks or food, or by ordering a certain way they can get a discount and various offers. In one example, a coffee shop gave free coffee to any user who is the mayor of that location. This could be the first example of mobile GPS marketing - something that is likely to increasingly catch on as more and more of the general public buy smart phones with internet and GPS connection.

What Estate Agents need to realise is that smart phone users are living their lives creating location-aware content such as photographs, videos, tweets, and Foursquare checkins. Each of these adds a virtual layer of a real life experience that has meaning to that person, their friends, family, business contacts and online contacts. Estate Agents that quickly tap into this meaningful content are able to reach people in a personal way that is in real-time as well as location aware. You've heard Estate Agents that have successfully used social networking, well this is the next step; geographical social networking and it's time to get there before someone else does.

Think of it this way, back in late November 2009, there were 6.2 million smart phone users in the UK and in a recent survey 96% of the population are never more than 3 feet away from their mobile. This is a scary statistic. 96% of the 6.2million smart phone users always have their GPS smart phone within 3 feet of them 24/7 and many experts predict that mobile web will be much larger than desktop by 2013. Mobile has always been seen as 'the next best thing', but one thing is for certain, we are one step closer to mobile being a truly great business tool.

Troy Stanley, CTO of Resource Techniques.