Where in the World Are YOU? What to Know About Foursquare, Facebook Places & More in 2011

January 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Media Coverage

By Lyn Mettler

Have you “checked in” lately? If so, you’re part of a growing trend of sharing with your friends where you choose to go – be it a store, a restaurant, a hotel or an event – on a daily basis, a trend that I believe will shape the future of marketing with amazing potential to physically drive foot traffic to a particular place.

The so called “gurus” of social media have dubbed this trend “geo-location,” and it encompasses services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, Loopt, Facebook Places, SCVNGR and more. It, along with “social buying” (guru translation: Groupon, Living Social, etc) were the social media up-and-comers in 2010, but get ready PR practitioners and marketers, because geo-location is going to hit mass appeal in 2011 and you’d better understand not just how it works, but how it can work for your company and clients.

So what do you need to know about geo-location beyond the basics? Here’s the latest and greatest shaping the location world:

1) Facebook entering the ranks with its Places offering earlier this year was a game changer. While its initial offering was fairly boring, lacking many of the fun game features of Foursquare and Gowalla, it upped the ante at the end of the year with “deals.” Deals allow you to get a discount or other deal at a store, restaurant, etc., much like you can with Foursquare, but guess what? Now you can publish the fact that you claimed the deal on Facebook, a network bigger than most countries, so all your friends can see it. Powerful free promotion for any business.

2) Gowalla also┬ámade a big, yet quiet, move at the end of the year. They integrated their product with Foursquare and Facebook, letting users “check in” using Gowalla while also “checking in” to Foursquare and Facebook Places. So folks who like all the services, but who were only going to “check in” using one, can now use Gowalla, much less popular than either Foursquare or Facebook, as their location tool of choice. I personally have switched to Gowalla for this reason and because I’ve always loved their layout. Now I can check in once with Gowalla, while also keeping up with my friends on Foursquare and Facebook.

3) While Foursquare has dominated geo-location, they’ve had a tough time keeping up with demand and providing their business customers all they’ve promised. That leaves the door open for someone else to step in and do a better job. Who? Possibly Gowalla based on No. 2, but there are some other contenders like Yelp and SCVNGR. What’s great about Yelp is it’s already packed with customer reviews of everything under the sun, so it’s a great resource when you’re checking in to a location to see what others have said about it. Its database of reviews is far more vast than any other tool, giving it a huge advantage. SCVNGR is also a fun tool that focuses more on the gaming aspects of geo-location and has gained appeal quickly with college students and Gen Ys.

So as you review that PR and marketing plan for 2011, consider giving geo-location a second look, making sure you’re taking advantage of its powerful ability to promote your offering and provide specials to drive people to your location. “Check in” and let me know how you make out.

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