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.

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