I recently had an interesting talk with Dan London, who one of the smartest search marketers I’ve met. He sees a real problem with most of the geo-locating social media tools, as a consumer you’re often left asking, “what’s in it for me?” As a business owner, you may look at a tool like Foursquare and say. “Why would I use something like that?”
It’s a circle of uncertainty that feeds on itself. Here’s my pitch to both consumers and businesses.
Here’s how I feel businesses could benefit from an active and sustained use one of the geo-enabled tools: Foursquare/Gowalla/Tri-Out/Loopt.
Bars and Restaurants: This is an easy one for me because I’ve written an entire post about how The Pit BBQ in Raleigh is doing it right. They were on Twitter, and actually listening to what people were saying about them. When they saw people checking in using Foursquare, they jumped on the bandwagon and were the first place I know of in the area to offer a “Special Offer” when “The Mayor” comes in.
In case you’re not a Foursquare user, you can become “The Mayor” of a venue by checking in there more than anyone else. That is the base functionality of Foursquare, but what you do with that functionality is up to you. So what The Pit is really doing is rewarding one of their best customers for always broadcasting to his friends that he’s eating at The Pit. Smart.
The cost for The Pit is a freebie every so often, but the return is a super targeted advertisement sent out by a happy patron to all of his friends who are already more likely to listen to that message than a radio or television ad.
I think any restaurant that isn’t using the geo-tagging services is falling behind more than the other types of businesses. A bar or restaurant need a buzz to stay filled, if I know my friends are always eating or drinking someplace, I’m more likely to go there to.
Realtor: I haven’t seen this yet, but I think a smart realtor will start doing this and gain a large following. If I am either buying or selling my house, I would love to see what else my realtor is showing. A tweet like, “Showing a 3BR 2bath colonial – $249k – twitpic” might get some people who are also selling the house for 249 to see what the competition is. People looking to buy in that range will want to see the picture of the house. Having it geo-tagged also lets everyone know what neighborhood it’s in.
Realtors are everywhere, what else can they do to set themselves apart?
Home Security System and Cable Guys: I thought of this one after talking with my cousin who is a sales/installation tech. How awesome if I was on the schedule for an appointment and I could see that 20 minutes ago my tech checking out from his previous appointment 10 miles away.
All of these examples are just jumping off points. For example when the cable guy leaves one appointment, the customer service guy could call and check in to make sure everything went well.
Why should I bother using Foursquare?
This side of the equation can more complicated. Whereas I think all businesses can see some benefit from using one of these tools, I think a consumer can go either way. I’ll explain the benefit I see from using them.
1. Feeling Special: Last night I decided to go out to dinner with my wife. We decided that we would head to The Pit. At 5:15 I sent out the tweet below.
We arrived for dinner about 6 and were seated for dinner. First, the waiter remembered me from a Tweetup there a few weeks ago, then the manager came over to say hello. Both of those small actions go a long way in making anyone feel special. If that was the end of it, it would have been fine, but after dinner, I saw this:
That was pretty cool. It’s extra work for them to keep an eye out for me, then when they saw me and my wife arrive, to take a minute to send out that tweet.
Let me be honest that I’ve gone out of my way to help build my relationship with the guys at The Pit, but they’ve done the same, and not just with me, but with a large group of social networkers in the area.
Besides real tangible value, I also get some satisfaction from becoming “The Mayor” of places, especially when I can oust someone else. It’s a bragging rights thing.
Another nice side effect is getting the chance to run into friends while I’m out. By broadcasting my location to my friends, it allows them to come by and join up if they want.
I think in the end, it’s all about using tools that help you. I find value from these tools, so I’ll continue to use them.
D0 you use any of these tools? Why (or why not)?