Are you on Foursquare, Gowalla or any other check-in services? I use Foursquare and like many of my friends, I’m beginning to wonder “What’s the point?” So far, they’re great in theory, but not in practice. Gowalla boasts that you’ll “find inspiration to explore the world around you while picking up rewards from local eateries, venues, and retail stores.” Similarly, Foursquare says that it’s “a mobile application that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. It is a friend-finder, a social city guide and a game that challenges users to experience new things, and rewards them for doing so.”
Instead of the original intent of rewards and explorations of new venues, what I usually find random non-businesses, like “My Couch” or “Goldie Lock’s Castle” (true venues within check-in distance from my apartment) and a mayorship that boasts no rewards other than a badge and proverbial pat on the back.
So, the obvious questions and thoughts arise:
- Who cares when I’m grocery shopping at my Whole Foods?
- Why do people need to know that I’m shopping at the mall?
- I don’t want people to know that this is my third trip to 7-11 today. Hostess cupcakes, coffee, diet coke does not a nutritious diet make, but that is my dirty little secret.
- I swear that this fourth check-in at the liquor store is for yet another Yankee swap.
- What’s the point of being mayor if there’s nothing in it for me or my friends?
So on and so forth. These questions seem rather silly to me, as I’m an active Twitter persona (for my personal account and also oversee the social media for Compete and am the former social media person behind Bliss Spa) and have somehow accumulated about 25,000 random updates about nothing on my personal account alone. But where could I possibly check-in that people would care? Justin Beiber’s house? Antoine Dodson’s (whom I would only visit by invite-only for fear of being the next autotuned sensation).
Although Foursquare and Gowalla are best used on mobile devices, their web traffic is seeing a steady decline.
I have yet to have the great question answered-what’s the point? I was out with friends a couple of weeks ago at a restaurant I regularly frequent and happened to run into a bunch of people I knew, the staff knew my name, and we got a dessert on the house. A friend looked at me and said “You’re the mayor of this place,” which prompted me to whip out my phone check-in on Foursquare. Not surprisingly, I was not the mayor, as I rarely remember to check-in when I’m out somewhere and I am guilty of the post-visit check-in. But if I were the mayor, the question (as a good American Consumer) is “What’s in it for me?” Badges are cute and nice (I have 20+), but they have a very flare-like feel a la Office Space. Mayorships are generally useless (with a few exceptions I’ll discuss in a minute). I fear the day that I’m out and the new pickup line is “Hey, baby, can I buy you a discounted drink? I’m the mayor here.” I may have to flee the country and abandon all social media if that happens.
Most businesses haven’t figured that piece of the puzzle out and with so many websites promoting deals and exclusive offers, how many more offers can a business provide to customers before damaging their profitability? Marketing geniuses (and personal friends) Mike Schneider (@schneidermike on twitter) from Allen & Gerritsen and Aaron Strout, CMO of Powered, Inc (@aaronstrout on twitter) recently announced that they will be collaborating on “Location Based Marketing for Dummies,” which will hopefully change the check-in world as we know it, focusing on topics including: Choosing the right platforms, building a LBS campaign, creating relevant offers, integrating LBS with other marketing efforts, Developing a monitoring strategy, KPI’s and measurement
I have great faith in Aaron and Mike to shed some light on location based marketing. Location based marketing, you’re about to get a GPS and find your way to profitability to businesses and value to users. Looking forward to the book launch next year. Stay tuned
As the Online Marketing Specialist at Compete, Karen Costa specializes in the day-to-day online marketing functions for Compete.com-paid search, email marketing, social media, affiliate, etc. Before Karen joined the Compete team she was an online marketing coordinator for Bliss Spa and then worked for a couple of start ups. Karen says, "I'm not sure what I want to be when I grow up!" Find Karen on Twitter as vanillabean45 or connect with her on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencosta