Location-based Services: Are They Worth Your Time?

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emmadavis | Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Filed under: Basic, Intermediate, Social Media Tips & Advice, Technology

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Listen in on any conversation about social media marketing and you’re sure to hear some buzz about location-based services like FourSquare, MyTown and now Facebook’s new ‘Places’ app. This new breed of social networking encourages users to connect with friends through “check-ins” at popular establishments and well-known locales. These location-based services, or LBS, are the latest social media trend to attract marketers, but not every company can benefit from this unique type of social connection. If you’ve been considering incorporating LBS into your marketing strategy, here are some ways to determine whether or not you can expect success:

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Is Your Brand a Destination?

LBS apps like FourSquare are ultimately rooted in the desire to make note of when you arrive at the cool restaurant, hip art gallery or popular event of your choice. Therefore if you aren’t a brick-and-mortar establishment, you may have some serious trouble generating buzz with LBS apps. However, there is always the opportunity for partnership–bringing your brand to your target customers at a popular place they’re already attending.

What Is Your Offer To Potential Customers?

If users of LBS apps are to be expected to participate in marketing-oriented sharing activities, they clearly believe they will receive something in return. If you fail to deliver here, your efforts to use LBS for social media marketing will serve only to make customers associate your brand with disappointment. This is why it is crucial to have a plan for what you will offer with your LBS marketing. Coupons are the most obvious easy yet effective campaigns to plan around an LBS app. Other potential offers could include VIP sales or exclusive offerings, freebie giveaways or a chance to win a larger prize by ‘checking in’.

Will Users Want To ‘Check In’ With Your Brand?

Like any other ‘hot’ social media trend, location-based apps are a double-edged sword. While potential customers love using cool new technologies that connect them to their friends, many become worried about the potential loss of privacy. If your brand is a store or restaurant that customers would already talk about attending with friends, chances are they would happily ‘check in’ on a LBS app, especially if it earns them new app badges or a real-life coupon or discount. On the other hand, if your customers might not broadcast their visit to your brand in person, they certainly will not be interested in ‘checking in’ via LBS app.

What Happens After They Check In?

Sending coupons or VIP alerts are a great use of the existing LBS platform, but the real success comes from driving more traffic to your business. Are you promoting your LBS activities on your website, blog, Twitter feed or any other social media outlet? When it comes to social media it’s crucial to show off your achievements. Make sure you’re using your success with LBS marketing to bolster your success elsewhere. Follow through on any offers you used for promotion and keep the conversation going on your website. It’s commonly known that while third-party apps like Facebook or FourSquare are great for generating buzz, you will never have real control over the direction of the conversation. Find new customers using social media, but make sure to then bring them to your site and engage them in conversation about your product.

What are your experiences with social media and marketing, especially with newer location-based services? Leave a comment sharing your thoughts, or get in touch to learn more about how social media marketing can improve your business.

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