Foursquare, Gowalla, Geo-Location…the new ROI?
It was just two years ago and everyone was going nuts about Twitter and creating lots of comparisons between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn…and so on. Books were being written about the business applications of these Social Media outlets and conferences around the industry being put on, talking best practices. But the one thing that kept on arising…what is the purpose behind all the mess. Both sides were asking these questions…the groups that created these platforms and those engaging. ROI was a huge discussion. Both the investors of the platforms and the business using these outlets…why and how?
Then…this crazy thing called “geo-location” was emerging publically. Basically not only telling the world what you are thinking, but where you are located when you are saying your thoughts. These crazy technologies popped up with lots of traction, ie. Foursquare and Gowalla. People tagging their location by “Checking In.” A new craze of people jumping on board. The early adopters trying them out and others sitting back to watch the recourse.
A few months ago, I shared a few beers with Olivier Blanchard at a great pub in Greenville and we talked about what all this mess means. Well, a few beers brings out lots on creative thoughts but we both agreed on a few things. But here are two points that came up in the discussion (fyi…I am not speaking for Olivier):
1) These geo-location technologies are the true ROI for Social Media. Why, because now retailers and organizations can now place a name, information, and demographics to a decision making process.
2) These geo-location technologies are creating a true paradigm shift how retailers and organizations reach audiences. This is the point I am excited to write about.
Imagine this…you are planning a trip. You are getting on a plane and you live in a metropolitan area like New York City. You get up in the morning, grab your bags, and head out the door. On the way to the subway, you drop into a coffee shop for a java and “Check-In.” This coffee shop knows you well because you have been “Checking In” for a while and they already have your carmel latte ready right when you “Check-In.” You grab that java and out the door you go to catch the subway. You have made this trip before because you travel for business. As walk down sidewalk, you stop for a paper and “Check-In” at the local paper stand. After picking up the paper, you make you way down the stairs into the subway…there are television and LED screens along the walls. This geo-location has tracked your tendencies, knows what food you like, what shoes you like…because you “Check-In” to the spots all the time. So now, based on your preferences, there are ads showing on these television screens targeted specifically for you. There is even one that tells you that your plane is on time and references you by name. Geo-location is creating a direct, one-to-one conversation between your location, your tendencies, your buying power….AND their message. This is just one scenerio in this Time Square Effect!
These “Check-In’s” are the public domain of your credit card transactions. But now they are combining your purchasing power with your location from a public position. This is like the “global” version of your CVS or Walgreens Card…telling everyone where you are going and what you are doing. The marketers are eating this up as fast as they can, leveraging the information we knowingly post publicly; why…to help you make purchasing decisions.
Our Social Media transactions (both on a conversational side and a location side) are becoming the collective database we knowingly support each time we go the local super market for eggs and milk and “Check-In.” We are creating the ROI for marketers. This comes to no surprise because we are a debit card/credit card carrying society. Now…it is more public.
This post is not meant to poke holes in our Social Media tendencies but bring an awareness to the massive database we are creating. There is so much value in the “Checking In” model. We are helping the local retailers compete with the big box providers. If there is one group that should try to leverage this technology…well it is the small retailers or companies trying to compete in a global economy.
This may be the ROI businesses are looking for, but its the same reason me as a consumer doesn’t post location on tweets, or will use the geo-location services. In fact, as big a fan as I am of Google, I quit using Google Latitude. Until I can be assured that this technology is for my benefit and the people around me that I want to share that information with, this data is nothing good for me.
Brian….I feel the same way. I am very hesitant to update my status with a location. I do it when I think it can benefit a business, a business that I enjoy going to their location. But also know that people are following my updates, and when I update/checkin from a location…it means I not in other places. If I check in from the beach, it means I am not at my house. I think people have to be cognoscente where they check and why.
Really interesting take on this Bobby.
I see exactly how all of this would benefit the marketers and companies using these new technologies. I think it’s great for business.
I can also see how it can benefit the consumer. Companies can cater to you better. There’s also the “mayor” benefits that companies like Starbucks are using and I think the use of these things is genius and will just get better.
However, I’m a non-foursqure user. I love to be connected at all times, but sometimes I think there’s such a thing as too much info. While I’d love for everything to be catered specifically towards me, I just feel like while most of my lie becomes public through social media, I still need to try and keep somethings to myself. But, who knows, as technology keeps advancing I may be convinced to change my mind.
Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos
I wrote a brief post about Foursquare a while back. The thing I like most about it is the opportunity to read others tips about local establishments. Granted, it’s still a fairly new thing for folks to do, but I’m benefitting more and more from finding out what others order or recommend.
I’m a bit leary about companies and brands knowing so much about me and my habits, as I cringe when I think of the “Disney way of doing things” – real-time adjustments based on customer data. However, I think it’s an inevitable truth.
Thanks for the great post, Bobby. Always enjoy your point of view.
Thanks for your thoughts and we share the same excitement and concerns/reservations. But the privacy of information is an issue that is all around us…from the credit/debit cards we swipe, the bonus cards at the grocery store, the phone calls and text we make, and every-time we search for content on google…we are being stored in a database. Do we care, not sure…but it is all around us. Do the benefits out-weigh the concerns…maybe? Could this same society survive a hundred years ago in an un-connected sphere? Bottom-line…it comes down to the level of openness with our information are we willing to allow others “influence” us. ~BR
I was just writing to Sheldon in his comment that we all feel the same excitement but reservation with the inevitability of our information being leveraged. What do we do about this, make conscious decisions about how we interact in this digital world. Each day we make a decision: cash or card, what search words do we use on Google, whether we “Check-in” or not…we should consciously make the decisions daily…IMHO! Thanks for your thought provoking note! ~BR