Location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, and MyTown are generating the same buzz that Twitter created two years ago when it was being touted as the “next big thing” in social media and online marketing. Just like “tweet it and they will come” was a falsehood told to many business owners, creating an effective location-based services strategy for your company takes careful planning, strategy, and execution.
Step 1: Examine Your Business
Does your business model support a location-based strategy? If you have a physical location like a coffee shop, retail store, or restaurant, then using location based services makes sense. However, if your are an electronic commerce service provider with no physical office, then it will be harder to make a location-based strategy work.
Step 2: Choose Your Platform and Stick with It
Building and maintaining a location[based presence takes time so it’s best to pick one platform and stay on it to the exclusion of others. There are two things to consider when making this decision. First, all of the major location-based services provide the ability to import your contacts from Facebook and Twitter. If most of your contacts are on Foursquare (which is likely since it is the largest and fastest growing location based service), then that makes it a strong candidate. Second, examine the features that each platform offers. Many find the gaming aspect of Foursquare to be compelling, and we’ve written about why your business should use Foursquare. However, Loopt, though a smaller player, is trying to win the innovation game by being the first to offer background location to Apple’s iOS4.
Step 3: Partner with Your Platform
Location-based service providers realize that partnering with the business owners of the locations people visit make their services more valuable to investors. Therefore, many of them are actively reaching out to business owners. Foursquare makes this easy by allowing owners to search for and claim their businesses. MyTown is designed to let users own real world locations like movie theaters, restaurants, and shops, so it’s best to register yourself as the owner of your business as soon as possible if you want to use it as your platform. Quickly claiming your brand on your location based platform of choice is as important as doing so on Twitter. Once you do so, contact the service provider to determine what they can do to help your business
Step 4: Determine Your Incentives
Foursquare makes it easy to provide incentives to your customers by providing real time stats to business owners, sending free “Check-in Here” signs for store windows, and offering pre-built specials like “Mayor Specials”, “Check-in Specials”, and “Frequency Based Specials”. However, users of the other platforms can also create incentives with a little creativity. For example, you can use Gowalla to create a trip that takes customers from one of your store locations to another and offer a discount or free item to those who complete it.
Location-based services offer a way to take customers from the virtual relationships you form with them on Facebook and Twitter to personal interactions in the real world. This provides the opportunity to know your customers better and help them find, understand, and buy your products or services.Category: Featured, Strategy | Tags: foursquare, gowalla, location based services, loopt, MyTown, Strategy