Can Australian businesses benefit from geo-location services like foursquare?

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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Two years ago, Twitter and its "micro-blogging" were a rapidly growing concept that had the potential for usefulness to business. In 2010, it has proven itself to be a powerful promotional tool, even if it is not directly revenue-generating. Now there is a wide variety in new geo-location services, which allow users to "check in" to real-world locations and announce to the world that they have visited a certain location. The question is, can it be useful for businesses?

What is it?

Across the world, more than a million users have signed up for the geo-location service foursquare (opens new window) and use their computers or smart phones to check in. Within Australia, tens of thousands of users have signed up.

When these users visit a location, like a specific outlet of a store, they can publish the fact to their Twitter or Facebook feeds for their friends and followers to see. The owners of the store can also see who's checked in. This can enable them to offer special discounts or rewards to people who've checked in one, regularly, or a set number of times at a location, encouraging tech-savvy visitors.

Does it work?

First of all, foursquare only makes sense for certain types of companies. For retail businesses, particularly cafes and chains that people visit regularly, there can be great benefits in setting up rewards for foursquare visitors.

For other businesses, particularly business-to-business (B2B) companies, or companies that don't have traditional store-fronts, foursquare might not be so useful, because there is no logical place to check into.

The second key factor to consider is the market penetration of tools like foursquare. If there are lots of users, as there are in the US, then it can be viable to set up a geo-location strategy. In Melbourne, where only a relative handful of users are around, the business case might be harder to push.

Goal integration

As always, any geo-location strategy (or lack thereof) should fit into your broader marketing objectives. If checking-in is something that could help your business meet its goals, it is worth looking into as a strategy.

For more information, contact Webdragon for a free consultation.

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