Are location based social services worth using?
From a marketing perspective, location based services are fantastic. Given the right tools and data you can slice and dice social media content by country, region, city and even neighborhood to narrow yourself down to just the folks you want to listen to or potentially reach out to with an offer in a specific spot. Layer on some age and gender demographic data and you can really start targeting your market. Definitely some value here in using the data. But what about the folks giving the data? What’s in it for them and will they keep doing it?
We’ve all seen the recent stories about Facebook ending their Places check-in service and Gowalla has closed the book on some of its popular features. The reality is that while there is a cadre of folks using these services, the percentage is actually quite small. When I look at those in my social circle it seems to be that most of them are the ones with a professional connection to social media or are using it for professional promotion. David Berkowitz wrote an interesting article where he looked at this issue and actually interviewed folks that had abandoned using the services.
So it makes me question how long will these services be popular with the users doing the check-ins? How will services innovate to reward people to take that step to actively check-in to a location or to set their account to always include a check-in automatically. Personally I can’t stand the idea of that much info going out about me to nosey folks. Remember www.pleaserobme.com? That’s a lot of information to share.
This move towards what Facebook’s Zuckerman calls “real-time serendipity” with apps like Hearsay.it and Spotify automatically broadcasting every last detail about your activities sounds cool to start but I think it will wear thin over time. I think people will tire of giving information, actively or passively, without a benefit. At least at the grocery store I get a discount on my groceries in exchange for my marketing information. A 20% discount on a $2.00 drink isn’t worth much when you have to check in constantly to keep your mayorship on Foursquare.
What do you think the future of location-based services will look like? How will services incent and innovate to provide value to consumers to keep them motivated to check-in?
Social Intelligence Crusader
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