Tag Archives: location based

Gowalla and Foursquare still alive and kicking.

I guess the demise of Foursquare and Gowalla at the hands of Facebook’s Places have yet to come to fruition. I realize my data set is small…probably statistically insignificant….but the activity via Places has appeared to have dropped off. After it was announced, there was a rush to “check in” via Places, the ability to do so via the Facebook app was a no brainer. For a while, I would see many places check ins on my Facebook updates…but recently that has dropped off to a trickle.

Clearly Places has missed out on one aspect – the ability to acquire simplistic, yet highly competitive and addictive pins, badges, mayorships, stamps…..Anyone who has a young child realizes how valuable stickers are to them, this has been replicated by location based social networks. Right now Places just allows you to tell your friends where you are…as do the other location based services. Until Facebook provides users cyber rewards for their efforts, Gowalla and Foursquare will continue to have their audiences and supporters.

Question remains – can this last for both pioneers in location based social media?

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Facebook Places the Foursquare killer

Much was made this past week with Facebook releasing their location based tool – Places.  Much of the fanfare around the launch was more about the logo that Facebook chose to use –

Hmmmm funny looks like the number 4…in a square, and who is Facebook looking to destroy with this new app…Foursquare! And they will do so, as well as Gowalla the other contender to own this space. Why? Simply put these two creators of the location based social services do not have any real differentiators to avoid being overwhelmed by the social media 800lb gorilla. Of course if you asked them they are less boring!

  • Yes Gowalla uses GPS to ensure that where you “check in” is really where you say you are, but since you are checking in via a smart-phone and since they all tend to already have GPS how hard will it be for Places to leverage this technology if needed?
  • Foursquare and Gowalla users have been more selective to who they include in their network. I agree with this partially. The more I thought about this I realized that the average user on Facebook has 130 friends, a lot? Well when you consider there are some with friends in the 1000s or higher you realize that many have single digit friends in their network. To me this means these users will not distinguish between someone they want to have as a friend on Facebook versus someone to follow them on Foursquare or Gowalla.
  • Foursquare and Gowalla have a switching costs vis a vis the levels users have reached. Um okay. Until that digital trophy or star I have pays the rent, gets me a job or puts clothing on my kids the switching cost is minimal. It just means I will need to check in faster with Places to get back to that “level.” I am also quite certain that Facebook will develop the cute and fun awards you earn!
  • Location location location, since the location based locations are created by the community, how hard will that be for Facebook to leverage its enormous network to build up? Plus Facebook Places allows you to check in to virtual locations, something the others cannot do yet.

I just do not see services like Foursquare and Gowalla being able to beat the network effect and sheer mass that Facebook will bring to the table. For Facebook it is an easy “sell” to its users – you are already using Facebook as your hub for social media and it is more geared towards the personal side of social media so adding a location based service, one of the most personal of social  media, is a natural extension.

I would also surmise that heavy users of Foursquare are also on Facebook, but the inverse is not necessarily the case. For those on Facebook but not Foursquare, why go through the process of rebuilding a network when you can just leverage the one you already have. Those of us who have used Foursquare and Gowalla we are probably already on Facebook, and since we will have more friends leveraging Places we will certainly not want to allow some location based rookie become mayor or have cooler stamps that us!

It was nice to have you around Foursquare and Gowalla, I wish I had more time to checkin with  you.

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Is FourSquare right for your marketing mix?

At this point we all know what Facebook is and some of us might even use Twitter on a regular basis, so of course we now have other social media outlets – location based sites like Foursquare. The New York based firm is just over a year old and has created some good buzz.  So what exactly does the service do?

  • It is a location based service – you sign up for an online account and add an app to your mobile device. Like other social sites you can and are encouraged to invite friends and expand your network.
  • When you go somewhere – restaurant, hotel, bar, or any other countless location you can “check” in via your device. You can also provide tips and to dos – giving your network your spin on places (similar to Yelp). It can help you explore your city or a new city.
  • As you check in to locations, you can earn trophies and mayor awards – basically achieving certain goals such as having over 10 checkins or having checked in at over 5 Starbucks’ locations. Based on being the one with the most checkins Foursquare will anoint you mayor of a location.
  • Of course all this allows you to measure yourself with your network…

The service appeals to our base need to network with our peers, but also accumulate “trophies” and “prizes” to show off that we are cooler than the next person. Let us face it since we have been little, we have been exposed to and trained to accumulate and show off our prizes. As children we collected pins, stickers, Barbie Dolls, baseball cards, girl/boy scout patches and the list goes on. We have collected items all our lives – a fun excercise look in your colleagues offices and see how many tchotchkes are lying around the office or better yet look for the stacks of name tags and lanyards hanging on someone’s bulletin board. You realize we continue to collect and look for symbols of our activity.   I will not claim to understand what drives us to do so, but safe to say I think many succumb to this urge. That is why Foursquare has struck a cord with that aspect of human nature.

So how can business and marketers take advantage of this? Obviously businesses with brick and mortar facilities need to make sure they can be “checkin” to, even throw a sign in your window with the Foursquare logo. Encourage your patrons to check in and to add tips. Also do not hesitate to read what some patrons are saying…clearly if on of the tips is “the service is terrible, slow and rude” something you might want to correct. Since tools such as Foursquare allow everyone to be a critic, if you are catering to this audience make sure  you are aware of the this channel.

What about other marketers for services or B2B businesses? Should you leverage this channel? Absolutely. Be creative. For example – promote your clients! If you are services based business who works with large retailers have a campaign for folks to check into their locations – add some insight into how you are working with those companies. We have much to learn about how to leverage location based tools. With Facebook moving into the space, it is clear that we have only scratched the surface with this aspect of social media.

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