The SXSW event (an interactive media conference in Austin, TX) was this past weekend and many people in my twitter stream were in attendance. I knew this not only because they tweeted about it, but also because they were checking in like crazy at all the events.
Checking in, huh? What? What’s that?
Checking in is the latest craze in social media. It is mostly mobile, due to the fact that you should be physically present at a location when you check-in. Depending on the location based service, you can win badges, claim titles, leave information about the location, and/or review the location. You can also see the information that others have left behind.
So what’s all the fuss about? There are several aspects of location based social media that are important to businesses.
1) the review side; obviously good reviews are desirable and the more good reviews a business can accrue, the better. When someone is using a social service to search for a specific type of business, i.e. a bar, restaurant, retail location, in a targeted area, they are more likely to frequent the business that is the most well reviewed.
2) the competition side; to gain points, badges, and titles in the location game, a person must visit a business with great frequency, thus encouraging people to come back the same business over and over.
3) On both the review and gaming side is customer data. By utilizing social location services businesses can get a glimpse of their customers habits. Businesses can see when people are most likely to visit, what they like the most, or dislike the most, and so much more.
4)Many of the services auto-populate to a person’s twitter and Facebook news feeds. For example, unless I tell Foursquare not to, it posts to my Twitter stream and to my Facebook account, informing all of my friends about my location. This can encourage dialogue and further recommendations or not, about whatever business that I am visiting.
Facebook is going to be getting into the game as well. Techcrunch is reporting that Facebook is going to use QR codes to allow people to check-in at businesses. What a great tie-in that would be to a businesses fan page!
The benefits of being involved in social location are many. If you and your business haven’t yet gotten on board the social location train, you should consider it. There are creative marketing campaigns that can be directed specifically towards the social location services and your customers can have a lot of fun with it in the process. Even the BBJ is talking about it!