Are you too dismissive of Foursquare (as well as Gowalla and the other geo-location apps)?
I’m starting to hear a lot of smart people scoff at these services, primarily along these lines “Why do I care where someone is eating for lunch?” The last time I heard that line of reasoning en mass was when legions were objecting to a new thing called Twitter.
Now, I’m not suggesting Foursquare will ever approach Twitter’s level of ubiquity, much less Facebook’s. Why? Because Foursquare makes very little sense unless you’re in a physical location like a store, restaurant, etc. It has natural constraints on where and when you would use it to create content – just as Yelp does.
But, if you are a business with a physical location (or you have clients that fit that bill) you need to pay attention to how Foursquare and geo-location can help you – and it can. There are three primary benefits: awareness via virality and social proof; loyalty and rewards; and market research.
Recently, I had the good fortune of hosting the weekly #socialmedia chat (Tuesdays 9am Pacific) where social media types congregate on Twitter and answer three questions posed by the host. I chose geo-location apps as the topic for my session. You can review the entire transcript here, as well as transcripts from the 52 #socialmedia chats that preceded mine. (there is some absolute gold in there – huge credit to Marc Meyer and Jason Breed for producing #socialmedia).
There were so many excellent ideas for how to maximize Foursquare’s impact during the session, that I figured I’d pull out some of the best for you here. Because it was well understood by most participants, we didn’t talk too much in the chat about the impact of customers “checking in” and posting updates to Twitter and Facebook, and how those check-ins drive awareness of local business. (I’ve personally discovered several restaurants that way). But, we did talk about the impact of geo-tagging on reviews, and whether the fact that someone has actually been to a location recently should influence your perception of their opinion.
There were a lot of comments about not caring as much about real-time reviews, but rather caring more about reviews/tips from people you actually know. This is interesting, because isn’t the whole point of Foursquare to only connect with people you actually know? At least it is for me.
We also talked about the impact widespread, on-the-spot reviews could have on customer experience. Here’s my very favorite tweet about that subject:
And another good one from @karimacatherine
In addition to the chat, I also came across this fantastic presentation about Foursquare (note the SEO benefits) from Chuck Reynolds. (note that Chuck is the official WordPress and SEO consultant to me here at Convince & Convert. He’s awesome, if you ever need any help in those areas).
Sure, the number of users is fairly small today, but Foursquare and Gowalla give businesses incredible insight into their audiences. Where else can you get a list of people that have visited your establishment, at what times, how often, and what they said about you? It’s never going to be Facebook (unless Facebook buys them), but don’t ignore geo-location apps.
What great examples of businesses doing this well do you have? Go for it in the comments.