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Real business opportunities for Facebook Places and Foursquare.

August 25, 2010

Hidden beneath the privacy rage about Facebook places, Foursquare and the anticipated flood of geo-location based applications and add-ons that will hit the market (this blog already has an optional geo-location add-on to tell you where I’m uploading from) is the phenomena that has driven successful business ideas for generations – if people choose to participate in something (instead of being forced to) then the idea is much more valuable.

In this case, the value to businesses lies in the knowledge that anyone who ‘checks-in’ via geo-location based mobile activity is already a customer.

Think about it – what we’re talking about is an entirely optional system whereby someone who chooses to log in and use an application can make it known that they have either

a)      Visited a particular location

b)      Used a particular business’s services by being physically present.

And yes, the social intent of products like foursquare is so that you can let your friends and associates know you are in the neighbourhood, so you can meet up and carry on with festivities, but the benefits to these businesses are immense:

WORD OF MOUTH

Moving beyond the old-school trend of review-based sites where users post commentary after attending a venue, location based apps simply show how consumers are voting with their feet. A geo-located ‘check-in’ which can be immediately pushed out to Twitter and Facebook however says “I am here right now and I’m happy to let you know that”.  For most of us, we know that word of mouth conquers all – and what better way of a consumer showing they approve of a particular store, restaurant or pub than telling everyone they know that they are currently there right now.

LOYALTY

These applications therefore demonstrate loyalty to a particular place of business. I for one am the Foursquare ‘mayor’ of the café in my office building, and enjoy my morning conversations with Harry the proprietor as he makes my morning coffee. This is great for businesses because an individual’s social media network are almost certainly ‘like-minded’ people who share similar interests and therefore are more likely to follow the lead of those before them.

Loyalty offers can be as simple as the pictured item – (‘check in’ to my business and we’ll give you a special offer on the spot), or can be more comprehensive – Foursquare alone has programs set up with a number of high profile brands such as Zagat and Bon Apetit that ‘suggest’ good places for you to check in to when you’re out and about.

MY PREDICTION

It’s only a matter of time before special offer sites like Jumponit.com and the ‘fastest growing web company in history’Groupon.com – start linking in their special offers via geo-location based activity. Another one to watch is Washington DC based ‘Living Social’ which seeks to continue the special offers concept in a social forum and is even opening locally in Sydney soon from the looks of their site.

So if you don’t like the privacy implications of items like Places and Foursquare, then don’t use them – it’s that simple. But for the millions of people that already do, you’ve just made it a whole lot easier for businesses to effectively target their real customers and keep them happy.

So what’s all the fuss about?

Deliriant Isti Romani – These Romans are mad!

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2 Comments
  1. I agree.

    What business wouldn’t want the extra attention they receive when their customers check in? By embracing it, they’re latching onto ‘free’ impressions.

    This platform also allows an old school form of customer service as well – just by reading this, I already want to chat with Harry the barista on my way into the office each morning.

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