A post by Zachary Adam Cohen on the Social Point of Sale really made me think of some impossible, but maybe possible things that could happen in the next year or 2 for location-based marketing. The fact is that businesses are looking at more creative ways to engage their customers. If we look at mobile applications like Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, Facebook Places and recently launched Yelp check-in, we see both users and customers are contributing to these small projects by adding venues into what could be a very large database grid of places to go. Store owners are also jumping on board because they need to make sure they are found when customers look for them on their phones. Just a refresher on when these applications came into play:
Foursquare – March 11, 2009
Gowalla – 2007
SCVNGR – 2008
Yelp check-in feature – November 23, 2010
Facebook Places – September 24, 2010 (Canada)
Facebook Places – August 2010 (USA)
“Why would people tell other people where they are? Isn’t it dangerous? I’ve seen people checking in at church and OB-GYN offices. Is there nothing sacred?”
Telling strangers where you are is one thing, but letting your friends and family know where you are is another. A friend of mine told me about Please Rob Me – explains how over-sharing your location can harm you if you don't think twice where you publish your whereabouts. With security and privacy seeing some improvements on social networking sites (or we can only speculate they are getting better), we can rest assure that what we make public is shared with everyone, but what is made private is only shared between those you . Foursquare and Gowalla, for example, give you options to publish your whereabouts, if you choose to, to Facebook or Twitter. In both Facebook and Twitter, you can set your privacy to the lowest if you don't want others reading your wall or feed. Don't forget too that you have different friends on different social sites… AH HA! Are they all your 'Real Friends'?
If you knew all of that, great! Start sharing your whereabouts with your friends and maybe you might bump into someone in the area you may not expect. Another benefit for checking in with various phone applications is that some businesses reward you if you check-in at certain times, or the number of times you've visited their store, with a possibility of more. I'll let you do the research on that one and you can report back to me =) I personally haven't picked up any deals off any of these free check-in applications yet, but hopefully I will soon.
Also, when you let your friends and family know where you are, there is cushion of comfort knowing that if you went missing that your trace leads back to the last destination you checked into. But how reliable would police officers say these applications be? What do you think the answer is? Or I could be wrong… Hm…
After I picked up the iPhone…
I started to finally experiment with some of the application that weren't made apparent to me when I had my BlackBerry Bold 9700, including Facebook Places, Gowalla and SCVNGR. After signing up for all these free services and trying them out, I noticed that the process is merely identical. It is very simple to check-in.
The way of doing it now is,
- Whip out your phone
- Make sure your phone has signal (either to Wifi or 3G network)
- Open up the application
- Search for location (either by nearby location or type into the search bar)
- Select the one you are currently at
- Add a tip/recommendation/tag a friend/post a picture/leave a package, check-in and earn points!
But can the experience be better? Quicker?
What if we can syndicate all these accounts into one? (checking into one location with all your applications at once without opening each one and checking in) Double/triple/quadruple the amount of deals if one location has an offer under each application. What if we can check in by scanning/swiping our phones as we make our way into the store so say 'this is when I can into your store' and 'this is when I'm leaving'. It could work because each phone is an identity of itself. Of course, we will need to be careful other information on our phones won't be somehow relayed to a third party.
I agree with Zach when he said: In a word: Sales. The conversion aspect just isn’t there.
I only see things moving forward from here. Now that we've identified people are using these applications to redeem deals, share/advertise products to friends and family, or simply sharing the whereabouts of one person, businesses need to find a way to narrow in on the gap that could potentially make them a lot more money. Look at eBay's iPhone app… should you start to worry if people are doing this in your stores? Probably.
I think whoever comes up with a solution for businesses to tie the online and offline marketing worlds together will be very famous and rich!
Do you think you have it?
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