Location-Based Services Heart Social Media [Data/Charts]

Happy Foursquare Day – Location-Based Services Tips

Initiated by Nate Bonilla-Warford who liked the idea that April 16th is the four times four day of the fourth month, Foursquare Day (Twitter hashtag: #4sqday)  is a social media celebration by its users for its users. (Here’s mobile marketing data to give you background on the marketplace.)

Foursquare is about what happens when you close your laptop to go out and connect, according to what its founder Dennis Crowley said during a Social Media Week interview. Foursquare influences real world behavior because it’s how the social graph online builds offline. Foursquare helps participants by filtering out options based on check-ins that act like mini-endorsements. Users discover new places based on the comments others leave. Foursquare can show where something of interest is happening because lots of people are there.

Foursquare celebrates!

Foursquare took its users’ idea and expanded it. There are over 1,200 meetups worldwide and a special Foursquare Day badge. Here’s what the badge looks like:

Who’s using location-based services?

Pew Research’s November 2010 location-based services findings showed that 4% of online adults had used a service like Foursquare or Gowalla allowing them to share their location with friends and find others who were nearby. On any given day, 1% of Internet users used these services. From a demographic perspective, users tended to be male, aged 18-29 and Hispanic. Here’s a snapshot of how Foursquare activity looks over the period of one week in June 2010 when seventeen people were checking into the site per second. This analysis was compiled by BitsyBot from Foursquare data.

Chart source: BitsyBot – June 2010

Since Foursquare and other location-based services are mainly used on the mobile internet and smartphones with GPS in particular, it’s no surprise that web usage of these services are diminishing.

What users want from location-based services

To use location-based services as part of your marketing mix, it’s critical to understand what users want from them. While you may think that participants want discounts and coupons or badges that are part of the game mechanics integrated into Foursquare, the reality is that 56% are looking for social connection, 19% are seeking information, 7% are looking for entertainment, and 6% are looking for discounts based on White Horse’s Lost in Geolocation Research Spring 2011. (Note: Research worth checking for the charts!) When it comes to the most important benefit, 41% of those surveyed said that connecting to other people I know or could meet, 21% wanted to find a place liked by people I trust, 17% wanted insight about their travel or movement patterns over time, and 6% wanted savings such as discounts and merchant rewards.

While marketers may not see the location based services market as large enough to tap into, these users are an influential segment that marketers shouldn’t overlook. Interestingly, Foursquare users rank themselves highest in this regard since they’re more likely to be very early adopters. Foursquare is built around an engaging location-based experience supported by its game mechanisms.

Which location-based services get used?

Still in its infancy as a new interactive activity or habit that people need to test and acquire, the location-based services landscape has changed significantly in the past year as the two Internet gorillas, namely Facebook and Google, have entered the field. Having a large installed user base matters since 42% of respondents use Facebook Places and 27% of respondents use Google Latitude while 24% of respondents used Foursquare and a mere 3% of respondents use Gowalla, as their primary or most used app according to the White Horse’s Lost in Geolocation research.

What marketers need to know before they use location-based services

Before marketers jump into location-based services, understand that it’s a good idea to tread lightly since across a variety of types of information, consumers feel that marketers have more information about them than they should according to the White Horse research. In fact, privacy concerns is the overwhelming reason that smartphone users give for not using location based services. Whether your specific firm has this information or not, what’s critical is users’ perceive that you do! To this end, it’s important to respect your prospects’ and customers’ privacy, especially where geo-location is concerned.

If you’re considering including location-based services in your marketing plans, do you have a business that naturally works for location-related information? If so, what type of content can you develop and how can you expand your customer relationships with it. Bear in mind Facebook and Google’s lesson, it pays to have a social media presence first to extend to location-based services.

Have you used location-based services as a marketer? If so, what was your experience?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: http://4sqday.com/

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