Location Based? What?
When I first heard about location based social media it made me think of Google searching for the nearest pizza place. Turns out I wasn’t too far off from the general idea but location based social media is a lot more complex than that. In an article from the Digital Marketer on Quick and Dirty Tips entitled What Are Location Based Social Networks? Aliza Sherman explains the basics of what location based is. She gives the pros and the cons and how businesses have been using this new feature to gain exposure and keep an eye on customer service. In Foursquare you can leave comments about your experience with the business swapping tips from others. This benefits both the business and the customer because apparently once you leave enough comments you become “Mayor” of that place and you get special perks! So the business gets your business, feedback, and publicity, while you get some sort of perk as a “thank you” from them. It’s brilliant!
The other thing she talks about is Whrrl which I don’t really see being a whole lot different from “checking in” on facebook. She says, “Whrrl has the social networking aspect of connecting with other members and you can easily post your photo-based stories–or Whrrls–to Twitter and Facebook. I especially like the elegant Whrrl slideshow player that you can embed as a widget on your website or blog to provide compelling multimedia content.” So basically it sounds to me like an extension of Facebook and since I’m not a fan of having 20 different social media sites, the idea doesn’t apply to me much.
I read another article on Mashable Business called 5 Things You Need to Know About Location Based Social Media. Kevin Nakao dumbs it down quite nicely and says that (1) location shouldn’t be the only goal, (2) The “Long Tail” for user adoption, (3) Mobile battery life is key, (4) Location will be the new battleground for mobile OS, and (5) Location Pays. Kevin expounds a little on each of these and for number one he says that just letting people know where you are isn’t enough. Being a location in Google and having a commercial on the radio with an address won’t do anything. If businesses want to get involved in the location-based side of things, they need to get into things like Foursquare which help promote by customers’ comments. The “Long Tail” he refers to in number two is the top cities that use location-based networks. At the top of the list is New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other major cities of the U.S. This tells me that maybe this isn’t something that would benefit every business; maybe it’s best for big cities where there are lots of competition and lots of potential customers as opposed to small town shops where everyone knows everyone. The next two on his list deal with smart phones and apps. Using apps like location-based networks can drain the battery quick, especially if you have to tap in to WiFi.
Smart phones (particularly Android and Apple) will keep fighting for who offers more, but in the end they all do the same thing. Location-based may just add another twist to the battle. And using the new networks can really pay off if used right, just like all the other social media sites. Some work and some don’t depending on the person, business, or organization but that’s the beauty of having so many options.