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How I See Location-Based Social Media

March 28, 2010


The hottest trend in social media right now has to be location based social media. Mashable recently featured a location based write up; 5 things you need to know about location-based social media by mobile guru Kevin Nakao that gained a good bit of interest. It’s no wonder location based social media is getting the attention it is with lo-so’s juggernauts emerging very rapidly in the mobile app world. With Foursquare’s growing popularity and more companies taking advantage of the marketing opportunities that come with the easy to use apps we’re bound to see some interesting evolutions in these mobile games.

The irony behind Lo-So is the fun of the game being centered around telling people where you are, but it’s also a bit creepy and unnerving. After all, who wants the world to know that they aren’t home, or that they are at the bar on a Saturday night? It brings up the age old question of privacy, but if you want to play the game then you have to give a little on the privacy issue. The privacy settings on most of the platforms allow you to choose how much you want to share and whom you want to share it with. It’s still a bit to overcome, but I was able to do it along with roughly 1 million other people, so it must not be too creepy.

The ability to target, track and bundle consumer information has never been so easy, and with growing popularity the “check-in” is quickly becoming an open door for marketers and companies to see who’s really doing what and going were. The lo-so landscape is quickly developing, but Foursquare still holds the first place spot and no where is their gain in popularity more prevalent than in my loss of Mayorships in the last month. I was an early adopter in Foursquare and Mayorships were easy to come by, but the gain in popularity has my frequented locations being overrun by newbie’s. I suppose small victories won’t last too long in an emerging game.

4sq stats

Oh the possibilities.

With all of the consumer data available, and the ability to target the consumer becoming more and more accurate marketers are quick to take advantage of the information. That’s all fine and dandy, but what businesses need to keep in mind is the extremely personal aspect of Lo-So. People are hesitant to share any information with marketers, much less accepting the fact that being bombarded with digital specials on their phones will be the way of the future. Sure it’s cool, but it’s also a bit intrusive. The example below came through my foursquare app when I check in at a neighboring business the other day. This level of marketing wasn’t too bad, but anything more than this would have been a huge turnoff.

foursquare banner plus ad

Another interesting function of the “check-in” is the ability to add a “tip” or “shout”. If you have a solid fan base of users on the platform it gives you the ability to have your fans speak for you. These tips are the digital equivalent of a personal recommendation and most people will put a lot more validity in a personal endorsement over a banner add. This is where your strong customer base and digital savvy will pay off tremendously.

foursquare pic

Location based social media is still in it’s infancy, but my guess is that it will continue to gain in popularity until it’s a social norm or until marketers run it into the ground with ads and annoying, phony friend requests. It definitely has the potential to Myspace itself to death if it’s not regulated and kept to a fairly non-intrusive fun game.


  1. Nice post Ryan. Your points about the restraint and savvy needed for location-based marketing are spot-on.

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