Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Social Location Marketing

Let’s start at the beginning: How to explain the concept of social location marketing to a non-believer? 

There is a new craze where people want to tell their friends where they are hanging out. They do this with their phones. They use an app to “check in,” and it sends a message to their friends.

Businesses want to interact with the people who are doing this. This is a perfect marketing opportunity. The question for businesses is what does that marketing look like and which app would be best.

We understand why businesses might want to participate in networks like Foursquare because they want to reach individuals checking in there. But what about individual consumers? Why should they bother?

As marketers start to understand the social consumer and their needs, rewards are becoming increasingly more attractive for individual consumers. Take, for example, the recent partnership between American Express and Foursquare. American Express cardholders can register their card with Foursquare, and when they check in at participating vendors, they receive discounts and credits toward their bill.

JetBlue offers additional air miles for its loyalty program for users who check in at any of its hub airports using Facebook Places. Many companies are now seeing the link between check-in and loyalty, and the fact that these systems can become an automated loyalty program. 

In fact, Topguest—a third-party check-in aggregator that partners with companies in the travel and tourism industry—is working to specifically tie in different social location sharing apps to loyalty reward programs.

What category or kinds of businesses are really kicking a— in social location marketing?

Retail and the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality industries have been the early beneficiaries of social location marketing. Given that they already had loyalty programs in place and understood the value of repeat business, it was a small step for them to grasp the potential offered by social location sharing apps.

That said, it is not limited to those industries, and we have seen it being successfully used by verticals as diverse as Fashion and FMCG. One example of a business that has used this to grow their business is A.J. Bombers in Milwaukee. 

What about B2B companies? Where do you see opportunities for them?

B2B companies can most definitely take advantage of social location marketing. One Foursquare-based third-party app produces heat maps of check-ins. While this might seem little more than a pretty picture, when viewed by a company that makes deliveries or service calls in a particular geographical location, it can give them a visualization of their existing marketing efforts.

The areas where their field staff are not checking in is where they don’t have customers. That is a perfect target area for their marketing efforts.

At the Enterprise scale, Lotus used a Foursquare-based competition to select conference attendees to be a part of an evening cruise and receive additional face time with Lotus engineers.

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