Flickr’s native geotagging integration has re-kindled the debate on whether one can create sticky community sites around geotagging. That’s the wrong question to ask.
Geotagging is a feature. It hasn’t been hard to do technically for quite a while. Just look at the many ways to geotag Flickr. What has always been difficult to do (and that’s not unique for geotagging) is to gather the lat/long meta-data. If a business is paying, the difficulty has to do with managing local recruits. If it’s user-generated content, the challenge is motivating people to contribute the meta-data.
Hence, the right questions to ask are (a) what are the community scenarios that would motivate people to contribute lat/long data and (b) whether these are defensible over time.
The big sites have a clear advantage here because of scale and reach. Reach & the chance of exposure stroke people’s egos. Scale helps free-riders. It doesn’t take that many people on Flickr geotagging Kapalua Bay for people to get a sense of the place. In a smaller community, that’s harder to achieve. Free riders benefit especially when accessing a service over “narrow” channels such as mobile, where the ability to search/browse/interact is limited.
Therefore, smaller sites have to focus on aggregating unique content, ideally something that lends itself to richer interactivity than the stock content management, rating & sharing with friends of the big guys. By that measure, sites like Platial won’t cut it (what’s there for me beyond geotagging?) but NearHere might, if the interactivity element gets a boost.