Location! Location! Location! The three words you usually here when looking for real estate. But what about in the cyber world. What does this really mean? We have location services for GPS, and that works great for items like navigation systems, and locating devices. Location services for tracking purposes, like with shipping services and company vehicles. But now we have location services for Tweets, Updates, and Check-ins. What does this really mean or get one?
In previous posts, some of the things I have experienced, I have posted. Some of this has been on the business side, and some has been on the personal side. But the question I usually seem to get often, is why should anyone be a part of Foursquare, or use any type of location services. And that is a fair question. If some method is not useful for a business, then why use it? If some new technology comes out and the person is not that interested, why use it? And that is the question only one person can answer: you. Whether it is for yourself or for your business, it is something that you must decide if this is right for you. Not all technology or services will be a “one size fits all”. Especially in technology, if it is a one size fits all, then it usually will not be able to do what you need it to do.
So let’s first examine the personal aspect of the location based services. What are some of the benefits for a person to use it, besides broadcast/brag to the world where you are? One of the reasons I use it is when I travel. By checking in at different locations on the journey, I can let me friends, family and business associates know where I am. Foursquare has a great tool to post to Twitter and Facebook as well, so you can get all bases covered in one check-in. Another reason I use it is so I can still “play around” with friends and associates who are no longer close. We have contests to see who can check in the most, become mayor of as many places as possible, who goes to the most areas, etc. It is another way to keep those relationships alive. I also use check-ins when I go to new places, especially restaurants, to see if there are any deals, or suggestions, or better yet, cautionary advice to stay away from a place. And most important thing to remember about Foursquare, if I do not want to be found, I do not check in at all. Just because one has the service does not mean one has to use it all the time.
Next, why should a business use it. This all depends on what the business is. Obviously if the business does a lot of secret projects, then they probably do not want to check in all the time. But there are useful ways to use Foursquare. First, a business should register the place, venue, location. Once you are there, make it exciting for people to check-in (and by that, they make it in your door) by offering them something. Even if it is 10% off a drink, or copies, etc. In this economy, even 10 cents could be the difference maker. And on the same token, offer interesting items, or tips, about the place. Movie theatres can offer tips like all movies before 4pm are matinee and cheaper prices, or days when there are not as many people showing up to the theatre. This can drive traffic and revenue on some of the more slower times. And make sure you read what others post about the place. This is invaluable as it is direct feedback about the business and how it is perceived. A really good presentation examines what different companies have done with Foursquare and was presented by David Stutts, 20 Interesting Things: Foursquare. Yes this is 11 months old and technology changes quickly. But this should give a good start on generating ideas on what could be useful.