Last week, I looked at the Top 10 Reasons People Check-In to Foursquare; with reason #10 being “to boost business.” Delving deeper into the business benefits of location based services, you’ll see many companies are finding creative ways to use such services like foursquare. And, with today’s consumers getting information in new ways, it’s a smart business move to take advantage of applications and networks that combine online and offline elements.
Even though Forrester Research found that only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based applications such as foursquare, Gowalla, or Loopt, more and more seem to be signing on each day. In fact, foursquare just recently hit the one million daily check-in mark.
So, what are the key business uses and benefits for foursquare and other such location based services? Well, I’m glad you asked…
Connections –This is especially beneficial when traveling or attending conferences. Finding out what other companies or colleagues are in the area through foursquare check-ins can lead to impromptu meet-ups, which can prove fruitful for business.
Promotions – Through badges, points, and special deals, local businesses are using foursquare to attract new customers and reward loyal returning customers. Foursquare members are able to get discounts and perks by becoming the “mayor” or frequenting the same venue, thereby providing more incentive to go back over and over again.
Endorsements – Foursquare allows users to broadcast a statement along with their check-in. And, while some of the comments may be trivial, if we take into account the fact that 34% use social media to broadcast their thoughts, whether positive or negative, about a company, brand, or product (as noted in my post a couple months ago, Social Media, the New Voice of Advertising), the business endorsement possibilities grow significantly. On top of that, the ability for foursquare members to broadcast these comments to Twitter and Facebook instantly enables their thoughts to reach the masses.
Publicity – With each check-in, businesses are increasing their publicity through word of mouth, or, rather, word of check-in. These check-ins are essentially recommendations by friends that reach the public with each new stop, especially when accompanied by a personal message. And nothing is more reliable or effective than a peer recommendation. While this may seem similar to “endorsements” listed above, the real trick with publicity comes by adding tips. Anyone can add a tip to a location on foursquare and the best part is that when people check-in to venues near your business, tips in the area show up like the one below from the Independent Film Channel.
Presence – One of the most unique uses I’ve heard of for businesses using location based services is that foursquare enables companies to establish a presence where they would otherwise have none. For instance, at trade shows where your company may not have a booth, by setting up a foursquare “booth,” people can still check-in and make their company a happening place to be. Maybe someone wears a sign around with the words, “Check-in here, you found (Company).” Voila, you now have established a presence at a trade show! Cheesy? Yes. Effective? Well, it has potential.
Active Engagement – Location based social networks and services provide another way for companies to engage with their fans and consumers, which is something people want, and even expect. Cone Research conducted a study showing 93% of social media users think companies should have a social media presence, 85% believe companies should also interact with its community via social media, and 56% of users feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment. If that isn’t enough reason to get your company actively involved in social networks like location based services then I don’t know what is.
I’m sure as the phenomenon continues to grow, more and more companies will discover ways to make use of location applications like foursquare. How have you seen businesses using location based social networks effectively?