An app calling itself “the world’s first city guide powered by Influencers” launched today and is now available to download on both iOS and Android.
Dotspot harvests geotagged Instagram posts from its Influencer “ambassadors” and displays them on a map or in list format — though it is also possible to search for any public account and have their posts (sorry, spots) added to the platform’s database.
Per a 2018 blogpost from co-founder Julien Gless, “Millennials don’t want to search anymore, they want to discover”; accordingly, through a slick interface clearly influenced by Instagram itself, users can search for interesting spots and filter results by a range of variables (including price and number of influencer recommendations). Users can follow specific influencers and see their recommendations for a given city or area (themselves filterable by distance, price, date added, and “hype”); there is also the option to create a Dotspot profile to favourite and / or save stuff — either specific locations, or lists created by other users.
High-profile influencers used by Dotspot in its own promotional materials include @richardleemassey (56,000 followers), @eastlondonmornings (76,000) and @food_feels (147,000), although by its very nature the platform makes it hard to discern what is a recommendation from an ambassador and what is a spot simply pulled through from Instagram. A short playtest also indicates that search results could (at least 5 percent ironically?) seemingly do with a little further curation: one local recommendation upon opening the app is high street sushi stalwart Wasabi; another a short scroll away is the St John Street branch of Pret a Manger.
As more users join the platform and the definition of “influencer” is stretched to breaking point, a healthy dose of quality control may be needed to ensure the app and its recommendations remain genuinely relevant, rather than just providing a re-skinned version of functionality that Google Maps already offers.
Perhaps that is all part of the plan — it is common, after all, for tech companies to bring pilot products to market as soon as possible in order to learn, rework, and improve. Dotspot’s website — www.dotspot.tech — is relatively scant on further information regarding future plans, although a dedicated page for would-be-curators suggests that monetisation is on the horizon come “late 2019”: influencers will, apparently, get commissions on each ‘booking’ the platform receives from members of the public (AKA The Influenced).
It’s always easy to be cynical when a new product comes to market (who would have thought, after all, that a simple photo-sharing app could have become one of the most dominant forces in popular culture?) Will the complexity of a tool mashing up the best bits of Citymapper, Pinterest, and Instagram really offer enough incremental benefit to drag users across from Instagram itself? Does Instagram’s own overlooked ‘saved’ functionality in fact offer enough for would-be list-makers? And how will this play into the ongoing discussion about paid and otherwise induced endorsements on social media? Lots of questions, and no doubt plenty more to come. For the time being, though, the launch does at least offer one answer.
Who will curate the curators? With Dotspot, you will.