According to the Chinese calendar, 2010 is the year of the Tiger, but for social platforms it is the year of Location Based Services. A location based service may not strike as much fear in the heart as a tiger would, but it is a service that should stop some businesses in their tracks because of the possibilities an LBS can have.
Right now the most popular LBS platforms are Foursquare and Facebook’s imitation with Places. Foursquare has the numbers and Places has the name behind the name, but these two services are really the tip of the iceberg for LBS. Gowalla, SCVNGR, Whrrl, Loopt Star & Brightkite are all beginning to make a splash in the seas of LBS.
GOWALLA- 450,00 users
Users in Gowalla are called passport holders and check in to spots to try and complete multi-stop trips to receive passport stamps and other goodies that can turn into real-world items. Businesses have the option of creating tips and pins for check ins. Toms Shoes ran a campaign through Gowalla to celebrate giving away its one millionth pair of shoes and had over 5,500 people enter to win prizes which included a trip for two to Argentina to witness the milestone pair being given to a needy recipient.
Loopt Star- 4 million users* (Loopt Star is one of three services by LBS Loopt)
Loopt Star is the newest LBS from Loopt who also created Loopt Mix. Loopt offers virtual and real prizes just like Gowalla, but allows businesses more control over when and how many check ins are needed to redeem a reward. And who says airlines are struggling, Loopt Star ran a campaign with Virgin America for a trip to Mexico on August 31st and Virgin America happened to have the 5th highest sales day in its HISTORY on this day!!
SCVNGR- Over 100,000 users
While SCVNGR doesn’t boast as many users as the rest of the LBS in this report, it has some very credible big name supporters, such as the New York Times and the New England Patriots. That is pretty good company for a company who only estimates to be adding 20-25 new users a day. SCVNGR takes you on treks to do challenges and receive rewards and badges. Instead of a campaign that involved travel, SCVNGR held a trek for the movie Eat, Pray, Love in 26 cities around the US.
Whrrl- Over 300,000 users
Besides getting to roll your R’s when pronouncing the name, Whrrl offers badges and rewards like all the other LBS. Whrrl has it’s own little community or as they call it “society” in LBS. John Kim, vice president of product management says these societies allow Whrrl to tailor rewards to specific groups of people using their app. “You can create content targeted towards those people. Whrrl uses a user’s social graph, check ins and recommendations (what they do or recommend) to personalize the user’s experience.” For businesses this means targeting a certain crowd to be in your society and offering them benefits that other societies may not have.
Brightkite- 5.5millions users
Brightkite has been around since 2006 and encourages users to take pictures, leave comments or tips upon check in. CMO Rob Lawson said brands are attracted to the opportunity of Brightkite when it comes to marketing. Britekite offers the ability to run loyalty programs virtually, which can save you and the helpless new worker who has no idea about your loyalty program, or card punches, it is their first day on the job …. “Please don’t call my manager, PLEASE!” … You get the point. Brightkite can save you the headache and simultaneously reward you for your patronage.
Clearly location based social media is not just about checking in and receiving an award or a badge. LBS is grabbing the attention of not only consumers, but of forward thinking businesses. With all the new technologies and applications, businesses are often left wondering where it will all lead, how they can, or if they should be taking advantage of it. But don’t stress over it. These applications are fun and rewarding for consumers and can be for business owners too.
Not sure where to start? Contact a reputable social media agency and ask which one or ones make the most sense for your business.