Sunday, May 16, 2010

Emerging social media apps

First, there was Myspace. Then, Facebook followed by Twitter. Now, it’s Gowalla and Foursquarethe newest social media craze. Gowalla and Foursquare are location-based social networking sites that use GPS to allow individuals to “check in” at any location in real life. Depending on the site, members receive points or stamps when checking in as well as the opportunity to leave a message at the location, which can be posted on Facebook and Twitter. Both sites also allow users to view nearby locations.

An article by Sarah Benson from Ink briefly sums up the differences between the two sites:


- Lets you use the site to check in to a real-life location from anywhere, which allows you to disguise your whereabouts. But you won’t earn rewards unless you are where you say you are.

- Each location has a mayor, the person who checked in there most often.

- Collect virtual badges and points for visiting new places.

- Available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm.

- Share tips about places (ex: The margarita at Esquina in Lawrence is to die for!).


- Prevents you from checking into a location through the site unless you’re physically there.

- Each location has a top 10 list of users who check in there most often.

- Collect virtual stamps, pins and items for visiting new places.

- Available for iPhone, Android and Palm. Also in HTML format for Blackberry.

- Share photos and trips (ex: You could design a Kansas City barbecue tour.).

Right now, you might be thinking that these applications are Facebook and Twitter on Red Bull. But, I see many advantages to using Gowalla and Foursquare. These sites allow people to discover and learn about places. While on a trip, you could come across a restaurant that serves very cheap and delicious breakfast. Or, you could learn about a museum that’s hosting art from a favorite painter. You could even learn something new about your hometown. Maybe you’ll discover that a nearby coffee shop hosts an open mic every Thursday. The possibilities are endless.

They also present the opportunity to know which places your friends frequently visit and what they usually do at those locations. Furthermore, imagine the opportunities for businesses. If people are constantly checking in at a certain location and leaving positive feedback, people who search for that location are given an incentive to check out the site. Wouldn’t you want to go to a certain bakery or comedy club if many people are raving about it?

Therefore, a location-based social networking site may be another social media tool that companies could begin to use. It’ll also be another way for companies to track their social media success.

Companies can get very creative with location-based social networking applications. They could offer coupons and discounts to frequent visitors. They could also exchange items or points collected on Gowalla or Foursquare for a real product or service. They could get their spokesperson to check in at a certain location in order to promote a product, service, or event. They could create a contest based on points or items collected. I can think of so many other ways for businesses to use a location-based social networking site as a marketing tool. What creative marketing tactics can you think of?

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