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Social networking has finally become something valuable for brick-and-mortar businesses. Smartphones and location-based social networks allow users to interact, share, meet up, and recommend places based on their physical coordinates. This real-world connection to social media can mean more foot traffic and profits for business owners. So-called "lo-so" networks like Foursquare , Loopt , and Gowalla enable any business with a physical location to not only communicate with customers online, but actually get more of them to walk in the door — and that's exciting. The question any brick-and-mortar business owner should be asking him or herself is no longer "Should I use lo-so networks?" It's "How do I do it?"
It is a truth universally acknowledged that everybody makes predictions at the end of a year about ‘the big thing for next year’. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes they’re wrong. And sometimes you only really start to notice trends and change when you are in them.
Shane Snow is a technology journalist in New York City.