Businesses, especially restaurants, are starting to finally leverage location based services (LBS). For those not familiar with LBS, Wikipedia defines location-based service (LBS) as an information and entertainment service, accessible with mobile devices and utilizing the ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device. The most popular LBS services are Foursquare, Loopt, BrightKite, Gowalla and Facebook Places where you can check-in to locations to let your friends know where you are at and maybe even get some incentives out of it. I am personally a big fan of FourSquare.
Why? Well 3 main reasons:
- As a competitive person I definitely enjoy earning that Mayor title and badges. Sad but true! Even better when I get an incentive.
- As a marketer I find it fascinating to see where friends check in and how brands connect with them.
- I want to show support to my favorite locations. I am happy if I can convince 1 person to try something new. Love to hear when friends tell me they try one of my recommendations such as when Christy Cole tweeted she tried amazing Bryan's BBQ in Cave Creek.
Test Out Location Based Services (LBS)
Recently I was reading a November 4, 2010 report by Pew Research Center that stated only 4% of online adults use LBS services such as Foursquare or Gowalla. I predict that Facebook will be the driving factor behind a rapid increase in this adoption rate due to the recent launch of Facebook Deals that compliments Facebook's location based service Facebook Places. You can learn more about Facebook Deals in our blog post earlier this week. It is our job as marketers to start testing out these localized marketing offerings and determine what strategies could and should work best when connecting with customers.
According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Places is already “multiples bigger” than any other location service. By way of comparison, Foursquare has about 4 million users and Facebook Places already has over 30 million users. Facebook has already signed up several major advertisers for the service, including The Gap, Starbucks, American Eagle Outfitters and McDonald’s. If you have a local brick and mortar business there is little risk to at least dipping your toe in the water and trying it out. If you need any help with coming up with local marketing strategies and how best to connect with customers through LBS tools either comment below or shoot me an email.
Focus On Influencers
So hopefully by now you are at least thinking location based services might be smart to look into for those local brick and mortar businesses. If you do, I strongly encourage you to think through who your target audience is and how best to connect with customers. Simply ask visitors if they use or would use LBS what kind of incentive(s) would be of interest to them. It might not even be monetary - maybe just simple recognition at your location, on your site, in a blog post, etc. Most businesses that claim their venue on an LBS service start out with an incentive for the Mayor. Sure, creating an incentive for your top visitor (or called on FourSquare as Mayor) is a wise decision; however, I challenge you to answer the question - is your Mayor your top Influencer?
Your business needs influencers not a Mayor. Take the time and engage these influencers and they can become evangelists for your brand. Do some research and see what your customers are saynig about you online. Do the followers or friends of that customer have a loyal group of followers that reply to them, ask them questions, etc. These are the people you want to connect with. I am not suggesting to ignore the Mayor as that is a very important person, but I am saying, there are others out there who make a difference as well between your business staying flat or growing in revenue.
As an example on how to connect with influencers, my good friends Anita and JB own a great dive bar - Draw 10 in Phoenix (disclaimer that in trade for great craft beer and food I offer them some help with marketing). For an upcoming special event they created an incentive for every person that checks in on Foursquare. Of those that check in any one of them could become an influencer. In addition, they included Evo in the promotion messaging as he is a big influencer (with over 6,000 followers on Twitter) and the main organizer behind the event. Evo is not (yet) a frequent guest at Draw 10 so earning the title of M ayor might not be possible but if he likes the food (and I am sure he will) he may tell others about it. Now Evo becomes an important Infuencer in helping spread the word about Anita and JB's bar.
So based on above what are your plans? Will you try out one of the many LBS services? If yes, which one and why? Have you seen any creative incentives that you want to share?