How to incorporate geo-social into your marketing strategy

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So what’s the deal with this geo-social stuff anyway? How are brands using it, how should brands be using it?

The possibilities are really endless. If you’re a marketer, hopefully, you’re looking at all of these check-ins with wide eyes and are overwhelmed by all the avenues you can drive down (and then check-in). Why? Consider the traditional marketing funnel – Geo-social has the ability to help brands interact with customers on each level.

1. Awareness

The utilization of geo-social can also help create buzz for a brand.  When you check-in you’re prompted to share where you are via Facebook and Twitter. Now, not only has your presence on one of these social apps motivated one person to come into your store, but it’s also been shared with their entire network.

Creating challenging adventures using services like SCVNGR and partnering with other companies is a creative way to truly engage fans and implore them to share their experiences with their friends. Hangover 2 did a great job of creating an adventure by partnering with seven-eleven stores to host fun challenges in which fans could win tickets, t-shirts and more after checking-in via SCVNGR and completing certain challenges.

2. Consideration

Offering deals via Foursquare, SCVNGR, even Groupon Instant can help during a customer’s consideration. When you open up one of these apps, it shows you all of the places in the area offering deals or challenges. If you’re considering two different burger places, for instance, you’d most likely pick the burger place with a deal, or the one with the best deal, right? Sometimes, just knowing that a restaurant or a boutique is on Foursquare makes me want to check them out.

3. Conversion

What’s going to make someone actually come in and shop with you or eat at your restaurant? Ultimately, it’s a combination of price, service and reputation right? With geo-location services, your customer now knows you’re in their area and is considering you because of your deal. Brands can also expand their reach by offering special deals with users.

These deals make a brand more attractive and could increase the frequency of visits per customer. Now it’s up to you to make a promotion that’s appealing. Or in the case of SCVNGR a challenge that’s engaging.

4. Loyalty

This is one of my favorite parts about geo-social apps. They can provide FREE loyalty and rewards programs for marketers. Set up Foursquare so that once someone checks in x amount of times they receive a free dessert or even a gift card to use the next time they come in. You don’t need any expensive technology to make that work – all you need is a business profile on an app. Not to mention, that built into each app is a sort of competition (I referred to this in my last past), that draws on our innate desire to win.

On Foursquare if you check-in the most times in a certain period of time – you become the mayor of that location. Why not offer your mayor a special seat at the bar, table in the window, or parking spot? Going one step further, marketers can then leverage these loyalty programs via geo-social apps in their advertising and messaging.

5. Advocacy

All of these things combined will contribute to a customer’s desire to become an advocate for your brand. Remember, though, that to make someone an advocate you have to truly follow through with all of your promotions and engage those who are willing to engage with you!

Any other ideas? Check back next week for more on the future of geo-social apps!

Geo-Social: What makes someone check-in?

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Raise your hands if you’ve used Foursquare, Instagram, SCVNGR, Gowalla, or any other geo-social application to check-in to your favorite watering hole. I know I have. One night at one of my favorite pubs, I started chit chatting with some of the regulars about Foursquare. We left the conversation wondering why people care about checking-in, what makes us want to share where we are with other people, other brands, even?

My initial thought was that it probably stems from our desire to share our identities with others (which I explain in more depth in my blog about what makes us go social). After researching a little further I learned that there is much, much more to it than just owning a smartphone (by the way about 35% of US adults own them – wow).

The psychological thought process of checking in on your favorite geo-social application is informed by the psychology surrounding all social networking in general. People like sharing content for two main reasons: to share their social identities and to gain social capital. Checking-in is yet another way for us to preserve and bolster our social identities and social capital.

What’s cool about Foursquare and the other geo-social apps is that they have the ability to turn coordinates on a map into actual places that people can recognize. In doing so they are attaching a social meaning to a location. Naturally, humans want to share this place with their networks to build up their status. A check in at the sold-out concert, hot night spot, or five star restaurant ups our social “street cred” and shows others we’re part of the latest trend.

Okay, so we all know that there’s something about us that just makes us want to share, but there’s something a little different about Foursquare – there’s a competitive element. There’s an almost innate desire to be the “mayor” or to claim territory (I still haven’t become the mayor of my favorite bar). But it’s true. The New York Times wrote a whole article devoted to this “friendly” competition. It describes the “petty and vicious battle over virtual pieces of turf” that geo-social apps enable. Foursquare makes our everyday travels into one big game and taps into our urge to win.

This might be why more men are using these types of apps than women. While women use social media, on a whole, more than men, a man is actually twice as likely to check-in than a woman. Women are also a little more concerned about privacy than men are. For instance, a woman might not want to broadcast her location for fear of putting herself in a bad position.

Hopefully (for marketers, at least) more and more people will start using these types of apps. It’s fun and the possibilities are endless for brand engagement. Our current affinity for these geo-social services have definitely implications for marketers going forward. Come back next week for a little more insight insight into what brands can do with this new trend.

What do you think is the future for these geo-social apps?

Resources:

1. Oliver, Simone. Who Elected me Mayor? I did. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/fashion/19foursquare.html
2. E.G. The secret sexism of social media. June 2011. The economist http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/06/geosocial-networking
3. Atagana, Michelle. Location-based services: The new social currency for teens. September 2011. Memeburn. http://memeburn.com/2011/09/location-based-services-is-the-new-social-currency-for-teens/
4. Zickuhr, Kathryn & Smith, Aaron. 4% of online Americans use location-based services. November 2010. Pew Research Center. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=1TUTSOC1h1HLg5wv31Y1zfWyBLC2Zhvfi7r7zL9d8C2nXuY5-P8hle7sRtyVr&hl=en_US