Are you a business owner looking to offer some cool and unique specials to social media-savvy customers? How about offering them a location-based social media special?
Location-based services use the GPS technology in users’ phones or mobile devices to pinpoint their location (with their permission, of course). Once a user’s location is determined, they can be served up a bevy of interactive, localized options. Most of these apps have websites with some functionality, but the real benefit of these services is delivered through their smart phone or mobile device apps. These apps can be downloaded to your phone or mobile device from places like the Apple App Store or Android Market.
Some location-based apps, like Urbanspoon and AroundMe, use a person’s location to show restaurants and other businesses around their current location. Many people might not know that Apple’s much-touted iPhone 4s feature, Siri, started out as a similar app, finding nearby businesses using GPS and voice-activated commands. There’s another app called Roaming Hunger that will show food trucks, and other mobile quick-service restaurants nearby. These are great apps to have on-hand when traveling in unfamiliar places.
Other apps, such as Yelp and foursquare, take location-tracking one step further, and add a social element to it. These services allow users to “check-in” to places around them, and share with friends or on other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Checking-in on these apps is very similar to checking-in to Places on Facebook; however, business owners can actually offer specials or rewards to users who check-in to their location. One of the most prominent businesses using check-in specials is Chili’s restaurant (view screenshot below).
When a Chili’s customer opens foursquare on their smart phone, within the restaurant, they’ll see the screen above, which lists two check-in specials Chili’s is running. The first offers free chips and salsa for a check-in. The second is for a free Happy Hour appetizer when a user check-ins while seated in the bar. To claim these specials, the user must first check-in, then show the “special unlocked” screen to their server.
As mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of people checking-in to businesses is the check-ins can be shared to either their friends (or if their profile/check-ins are public) or to those around them using the same service. This can give people an idea of how many social people (like themselves) are at a certain business or restaurant.
I can imagine a few of you saying “I don’t want people to know where I am!” However, many of the people using these services are younger, very social media and tech-savvy extroverts, along with their like-minded friends. Also, these services only publish information users want to share, much like the public views that are shared via Facebook. These apps require a user to actively check-in, and will not automatically track your location as soon as you walk through the door.
As you can see, the list of ways users and businesses can maximize their interactive experience with one another is growing, thanks to smart phones and other mobile devices. And as daunting as constantly keeping up with the latest social activity trends may seem, it’s up to business owners and marketers alike to realize the potential social media can generate.