How can location based social networking help my business?

Gone are the days of an organisation having total control over the marketing information that is placed on websites. What if I told you that the majority of your companies marketing was done by people outside of the organisation. Scared?

Image provided by Renjith Krishnan

With the dot.com bust a number of start up companies went under. This forced IT professionals to develop new models to making the internet profitable. A new revolution of how users would engage the internet was born. The era of Web 2.0 had arrived. Web 2.0 applications provided a platform that enabled collaboration and empowerment to its users.

This paradigm has been coined Harnessing the Collective Intelligence by Tim O’Reilly. There are two key principles that allow this process to prosper. The first key principle is that the users add value. Through the users participation on the web 2.0 platform by creating content, uploading and sharing their ideas and thoughts they are can both directly and indirectly add value.

The second principle is that network effects magnify this value.

Web 2.0 thrives on network effects: databases that get richer the more people interact with them, applications that are smarter the more people use them, marketing that is driven by user stories and experiences, and applications that interact with each other to form a broader computing platform.

By involving users both implicitly and explicitly the interaction will become more meaningful and enjoyable. Web 2.0 technologies should facilitate emergence by allowing the particular application to transform to suit the users needs. The ability for the application to be fluid and less structured will enhance the experience by the users. Web 2.0 applications have been developed to allow users to create web pages and content with little or no understanding of HTML.

Foursquare

Foursquare is a location-based social networking service which is avaliable on smart phones to allow its users to “check-in” to venues they are currently at. This allows users to share their current location with other users they are connected with their foursquare account. There is also a game aspect to the service which allows users to receive reward points and “badges” for each check-in they do. For users check-in the most to a venue, become the “mayor” of that location. Users are also able to leave comments on a particular location they have check-in at. Some businesses have embrassed this social networking service by providing specials and discounts to the “mayor” or other users of foursquare.

Businesses have seen the advantages of customers using foursquare as it shares their business name with other users of the platform and lets them know if they frequent a particular location (eg: coffee shop) which in turn may attract further foursquare members to visit, especially if a positive comment is left

The face of buisness marketing has changed with the use of social media. The inaugural Nielsen-Community Engine 2010 Social Media Business Benchmarking Study found that 70 per cent of all Australian businesses intend conducting some form of social media activity this year, compared with just 40 per cent in 2008. (read more here).

Users that connect on platforms such as foursquare can read people’s personal opinions on a particular business which could influence a customer’s decision more than having that customer exposed to a traditional marketing campaign.

Businesses need to use platforms such as foursquare to connect with these niche markets to discover what the perception is of their buisness. It is a great source of information and is another way that businesses can market to a specific customer base.

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  1. May 31, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Foursquare sure did harness the wisdom of the crowds. Imagine back to the dot.com era a site trying to get something started like Foursquare. It would of been thought as an impossible feat that would take tons of man hours in cold calling and walking up to every local business in a given area and educating them on what it is exactly you do (Might also be nice to note that without mobile devices it would of never took off anyway.) Companies start offered loyalty card programs in rewarding frequent customers but theses loyalty cards were often ran by the local store themselves, rarely was it corporate.

    Now how did Foursquare get so many businesses inputted in such a short amount of time requiring minimal effort in task. They treated the service as a game, the more places you added and check-in too, the more badges you get and so on. These badges were a sign of comparing yourself to your friends, who explored more. It became a competition. In doing so, the ordinary person is the one imputing their favorite local hangouts into the application. Once the service got popularity, local businesses started investigating to see what it was all about, and wallah… That’s when things started to really kick off.

    It’s awesome how in todays time all it takes is two people, a little start up cash and the wisdom of the crowds to create the next global phenomenon. For Foursquare, it’s brilliant strategy at letting the ordinary user be the ones to input the business. Then Foursquare can go out and send promotional flyers to those businesses looking to offer deals etc…

    Great blog, very nicely written.

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