The nine circles of social media

When Dobie Gray sang about being in with the in crowd in 1965, could he have imagined how mobile devices would turn the world into one big high school?

First there was messaging and texting, which allowed you to send your thoughts to a single person. Then there were location-based services like Foursquare, which allow you to broadcast your location to whoever will listen.

beluga-logoThe latest to join the my-business-is-everybody’s-business trend is Beluga, a service that allows you to message groups of friends, all at once. You can transmit photos to the group without having to send individual messages. And you can spot their location on a map, eliminating the need to constantly check their availability.

Beluga is a cross-platform rival to Kik, GroupMe and Blackberry’s BBM. Whether it catches on is anyone’s guess but attendees at the uber-hip SXSW music and digital festival in Austin, Texas this week are burning up the wireless space about the service. Clue number two: Beluga’s been acquired by Facebook.

Writers and other creatives might want to use these services to extend their existing marketing tools. One application for group chat is your informal ambassador’s program, that coterie of friends and fans who evangelize for your brand. You might use Beluga to give the group some visibility, along with the cachet of exclusivity—join the group and be the first to receive information and invitations to private events.

Who knows, you might get to run with the in crowd. Or relive high school, one of Dante’s nine circles of young adulthood.