When a Picture is Truly Worth 1,000 Words

aaron stroutGuest post by Aaron Strout, head of location-based marketing at global agency WCG. He blogs at Citizen Marketing 2.1.

There is a lot of excitement these days about the potential of location-based services among marketers and social media professionals. For anyone that doesn’t know what a location based service is, it’s an application or website that you access from a mobile device to check in — or digitally acknowledge — that you are at a particular location. Some of the top location-based services are Facebook Places, foursquare, Gowalla and SCVNGR.

One of the benefits of these location-based services is that users can leave tips and upload pictures that other users can can comment on. As more and more people start using these services (according to Comscore, 17.6% of all smartphone users accessed a check-in service in March, 2011), the number of tips and photos will increase, thus adding valuable information about a location. This is similar in a way to reviews on Yelp but it’s a less formal process which should encourages more people to contribute.

Because the “add a photo” functionality is a relatively new feature on these location-based services, most locations only have a few photos added by users. However, over time these photos will continue to build up adding valuable information to a particular venue.

I’d actually bet that within the next 6-12 months, LBS will start to add functionality that will either start ranking tips and photos based on relevance once a venue hits a certain threshold.

So what types of businesses can benefit from the presence of photos?

  • Restaurants – this category is a no-brainer. With the quality of the cameras on smart phones ever increasing, customers are taking brochure-quality pictures of their food and drink.
  • Bars/nightclubs – if you’ve got fun, hip customers, why not show them off to the world. Or run a nightly drink special and give a round away for the best shot uploaded by a customer.
  • Retailers – encourage your customers to take product shots and upload them. If somethings on sale, give deeper discounts for best visual depiction of the featured item.
  • Any location that is tricky to find – this is truly where a picture can be worth a 1,000 words. If your store is set back from the street, at a tricky intersection or especially if you’re in a strip mall.

Have you ever used a location-based service? If so, have you uploaded a picture? If the answer is no, maybe it’s time you give it a try.

Facebook Comments


  1. NicksTraffic says

    Thank you for the post. It was thought-provoking. But my question is how can I use pictures in a niche like Internet marketing or traffic generation or search engine optimization? I would really like to use images as a way of showing instead of telling.

    • AaronStrout says

      @NicksTraffic great topic for a follow up post. Keep an eye on’s blog in the coming weeks.

  2. BrianLee says

    If bells are going off in business owners heads reading this article they should contact NYC based location-based Q&A site localuncle

  3. SociallySavvy4U says

    Wow great tips for use of location-base services…these are fabulous suggestions LOVE the “hard to find establishment” idea would of never thought of that, the power of using your customers to help other = the basis of networking giving back. thanks @AaronStrout via jaybear

    • SociallySavvy4U says

      @taramarkus LOL Your telling me feels like Oct.! The dogs are loving it a lot more bounce in their step this AM. Any special plans 4 today?

      • TaraMarkus says

        @SociallySavvy4U TODAY…I have to wrap my thoughts around a few stories I am writing that need to be Posted…uuh like yesterday!

      • TaraMarkus says

        @SociallySavvy4U I have two infant business’s – it’s like having twins! I’m always looking for support and TLC.

        • SociallySavvy4U says

          @TaraMarkus yeh sorry Tara had to run out for a client then get the boys from school:) Can’t wait to hear about your twins!

        • TaraMarkus says

          @SociallySavvy4U Hi there – No problem – juggling work and play is something I share and value. Hope ur day was top notch!

  4. ChrisBook says

    Really love the post. Truly savvy companies are indeed able to see benefit in the LBS space, but the industry as a whole hasn’t been built for, or fostered, business growth. It’s a consumer-oriented field, and businesses that play in it are largely putting square pegs in a round hole as the tools simply don’t address their core needs. The key, is for businesses to utilize LBS tools that allow them direct, real-time engagement with their customers. True value will come once businesses can identify customers in their store, learn about their experience, and ultimately build on that. It’s an immediately beneficial customer service tool that turns negative customer experiences into positives and creates brand advocates across the board.

  5. footprint20 says

    I like foursquare, and so do most of my local clients once I introduced them. I have not tried the FB places or gowalla. I guess I’ve been using foursquare for so long. it has just stuck to me.

  6. says

    Pictures are the ultimate customer product review.

    They are also a great tool for the business to review how it is doing.

    Market research is very costly and sometimes can be misconstrued. Businesses can now see what people TRULY are saying when they think only certain people are “listening.”

  7. says

    Great post Aaron! I remember when I first got my smartphone (back in 1987 :) ), there were a slew of location-based photo services that no one was using, and even then it felt like a missed opportunity for some really creative SM marketing projects that give users and readers a break from text. It’s great to see your suggestions here for this now that we have some more serious photo integration going on in this sector.

    • AaronStrout says

      @RyoatCision Thanks! I get more and more excited about the possibilities photos combined with LBS offer. More goodness to come!

  8. SayoOgundiranMartin says

    I pretty much use 4Square, FB Places, as well as Yelp. I’m still weighing which service I like most, but honestly none of the services have really grabbed me and turned me into a true avid user. I’m ultimately looking for more value.

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