Social Media and Location…..



You have checked into the local cinema on Foursquare or the weekend retreat via Facebook places. You’ve tweeted your recent experience at restaurant and now with the aid of GPS you have shared your location. Was this truly the intent, did you really want to share your location to the world and have your private life so publically on display.

For many people this is something of a concern but for some Enterprises this is an opportunity, an opportunity to target an audience that is not necessarily a member of a loyalty an affiliation programme. The benefit of Social Media and Location Based Services to organisations is still in its infancy and if used effectively could prove extremely lucrative in the long term. At present organisations such as Ben & Jerry’s will willingly give the mayor of their local outlet a free scoop, or a regular registration on Foursquare could earn you 250 Starwood Preferred Guest points. It’s this early adoption of incentivizing members that is steadily leading the growth in Location Based Social Media or Location Based Social Networks.

But what value does this truly add to a business? For large businesses one would assume this is as an obvious decision, extending your reach to a wider community, promoting a new product or service to a community that is digital, a community that may not match your traditional target audience or demographic, a community that potentially has a low loyalty threshold, a mobile community presenting an opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors. For large organisations this is a tick in the box but for small organisations the same rules apply. More and more businesses ranging from large corporations to small local tertiary businesses are changing the way they market their brands to incorporate Social Media with many businesses focussing their entire marketing efforts to incorporate the various Social Media tools available.

Regardless of size businesses, all are looking to reach a community of users or looking to promote a service, product or an event and as such relying on an outdoor campaign, or 30 second TV or Radio slot is not enough. Social Media provides the perfect medium for 2 way communication and with the growth not only in mobile and tablet devices but the use of Social Media through these devices companies can truly measure the effectiveness of a brand campaign, event or promotion.

Mads Holmen from BeOn (formerly goviral) makes a valid argument regarding the impact of Social Media. “Social Media provides the only environment where a single share or like could lead to a 1000 followers….” He followed by stating that the effectiveness of a Brand experience shared for 18-34 yr. olds is 42% via social and 24% via email compared to 47-65 yr. olds 17% via social and 30% via email.

For brands the key concern in implementing a marketing strategy is cost. By adopting a comprehensive Social Media strategy through the various options available organisations are able to minimise cost and reach out to their targeted audience. At a recent digital event in London a marketing director of a large FMCG organisation stated “Do not think of Social Media as a mechanism to share photos or updates from your recent holiday. Think of Social Media as a locked door waiting to be opened to your service or product.” As a business one of the factors that remains key is knowing that you are targeting an audience that is going to impact your bottom line. No point reaching out to the masses if you are a local media company supporting Scotland and most of your followers are in Sydney.

This is where Location Based Social Media comes into its own. With many applications today, requesting users to register their location, there is an opportunity for organisations regardless of their size gain greater insight into their consumers and their behaviours.

Loyalty programs today provide brands with an understanding of their customers spend and purchase habits but if linking location based services to the stack allowed brands to gain insight as to where that purchase took place, how much was spent, what was purchased as well as sentiment then brands could become even more powerful at offering a personal service to their consumers.

Consider the following scenario: a customer checks into his local cafe and purchases a Latte, then visits the local deli to purchase a sandwich checking in and commenting on the freshly made lunch. With this information the café could offer there consumer an incentive for a further check-in with a money off voucher against a purchase of a coffee purchased with a sandwich. Win-Win for both retailer and consumer. This level of deep insight into the purchase alongside frequency of visits to the coffee outlet provides the retailer with valuable intel on intent. It also provides an opportunity for the retailer to tailor promotions targeted to the individual or focussing on those less popular items. Why subsidise your top selling brands when you can subsidise those shelf fillers that are gathering dust?

More and more applications now are requesting users to allow their location to be tracked or to share data with a Social Media service such as Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare. This extended use of Location Based Services is still in its infancy but if used effectively could provide brands with the level of data that was previously only achieved through extensive and costly marketing campaigns as well providing organisations to be closer to their consumers, enriching their purchasing experience and promoting loyalty.

A few months ago I was having a conversation with an energy company regarding the use of mapping for their business. During the conversation a question was asked whether they could integrate Twitter into Bing maps to provide them with some idea their brand awareness. Using a Twitter Map application created by a partner we were able to search for their brand and have the details populated on a map with some interesting results. The results ranged from feedback regarding their service not only from their region but also from individuals touched by their services whilst visiting a friend, customer, supplier etc. in their region. This level of data was compelling enough for them to start considering how they direct their marketing efforts to help them in re-evaluating how they communicate with their customers but also consider how they focus on the locations where they have had impact outside of their focus. The end result was the development of a Location Based Social Media strategy.

With the growth in consumer facing Location Based Social Media services still in its infancy we can clearly say that there is a potential for enterprise focused services in this area to be born and grow alongside the consumer applications. It also places Location Based Services such as Bing Maps, Nokia Maps and others in a different league…no longer just there to provide me the location of my local store but to also provide me with the value that I as a consumer can obtain from that store.