Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Andy Beal's Marketing Pilgrim: More Than Just A Check In Play for foursquare

While I am admittedly not too enamored with geo-location services personally there is little denying the rise in popularity. Foursquare, Gowalla and others are experiencing some of the ‘hockey stick’ growth that was once reserved for Twitter and Facebook.

The problem as of late has been the nagging question of “What else is there to do other than just ‘check in’? Make believe badges and ‘mayorships’ can only go so far with most people. Well, if foursquare can do what is being reported in ReadWriteWeb even I could find myself playing along. The site reports

Looking at life through rose-colored glasses? How about walking through your town and seeing it as the Huffington Post or the Independent Film Channel sees it? IFC announced a new campaign this morning with leading location-based social network Foursquare that will allow you to do just that. The Huffington Post launched a Foursquare layer today as well.

IFC polled its member base for short descriptions of their favorite places in the towns they lived in or visited, then picked the place-descriptions that best suited the IFC’s brand (“Always on, slightly off”) to upload into a Foursquare database. Foursquare users can now opt-into getting those tips pushed to them whenever they check in near one of the annotated locations. It’s a chance to effectively say, “I want to see this town as IFC fans see it.” For marketers, this has got to be incredibly appealing, and for urban explorers it could be one of the best examples yet of effective Augmented Reality.

Now we are getting somewhere. People generally read or watch things that are of interest to them and a similar group of people. That group may have very eclectic tastes which is one of the appeals of being associated with it. Now, you can walking through an area and get the point of view of those eclectic folks. Imagine walking down a street in Greenwich Village and you told that there is a great ‘hole in the wall’ bar or restaurant that you would have never known about but your IFC or whatever minded friends have let you in on it through foursquare. This could be interesting.

Of course, these services could only be opt-in because of the distinct nature of each brands eye view of an area. It’s likely that those tuning into a channel like IFC would have little interest in what the Home & garden crowd wants to ‘find’. That’s the beauty of this kind of service and that is not lost on marketers.

ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick says it very well

I’m ready to follow the local historical society, an environmental justice organization or two, perhaps an art-graffiti-watchers association – the possibilities are nearly endless. Imagine allowing background location tracking and notification for some layers. “To see the world through the lenses of my favorite organizations” would be a nice addition to the reasons why people say they use check-in apps.

Can Facebook implement this kind of feature once location is rolled into its service? It’s a little hard to imagine; this feels like a feature that would best come from a service with location at its core.

Ahh yes. The great potential Facebook differentiator for foursquare. With the looming threat of location based services coming from social media’s 900 pound gorilla, foursquare needs to be seen as something more than just a novelty game for people to get tired of.

Could this be the way of the future for the location-based services of the world? At least it looks like a good start and it could actually be something that brings more people like myself into the fold.

This trend may be worth keeping an eye on for sure...Andy Beal's Marketing Pilgrim

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