How to Use Location-based Social Networks For Business

CRINGE, Every time I read headlines like this I want to stop using the tools they’re touting. In this case Foursquare is a pretty cool game you can play with your buddies, trying to _monetize_ it will just make it spammy and bring in pretty crappy marketing ploys that will be just as lost in the crowd as the current Twitter spam seems to be. The only true way to get on board Foursquare as a business is to take part by offering promotions for new Mayors of folks that unlock a new badge on your premises. If a party of four checks in and the one of them unlocks a Player badge (checking in with 3 members of the opposite sex) than those three people should get a free drink or entree… You know tell the dude score.

2 Fat Dads: How to Use Location-based Social Networks For Business

I gotta agree with JohnnyCanuck on this one, if businesses want to use social networking they have to participate and not just spam.

The Foursquare (or any location-based social network) is interesting because it very obviously bridges the gap between the net and bricks-and-mortar establishments. The next step though that a lot people have been suggesting (freebies for mayors and such) is going to take one of two forms:

  1. Ad-hoc, honour system. This will probably work best where the typical purchase is low-value and giving some away to the “wrong” person (i.e.: some who checks-in without actually being there) creates just as much good-will as giving it to the right person (i.e.: the legitimate mayor). These are the same places that stamp cards today.
  2. Structured formal agreement. This would work were a typical purchase is higher value and the costs are not negligible. These are the places that give out coupons or have actual point programs. It will take some integration and validation that your check-ins are legitimate before Foursquare replaces or compliments their points program.

My only fear is that Foursquare will NOT be the network of choice. Nor will Gowalla or any other new player. But more likely Google’s Latitude or Yahoo’s Fire Eagle or Microsoft’s BingQuest (I made that one up). Since those companies have the sales & marketing infrastructure, the name-brand recognition, and global prescence to setup and initiate the relationships with the bricks & mortar establishments to make this cross-over work.