I’ve worked in more than one software development firm where the engineers (programmers) were just too clever for their own good. It was amazing how many cool features they developed that were of absolutely no use to the customer. You just had to shake your head and sigh. Personally, I think that geotagging started out much that way. After all, who CARES where you are every second of the day?
Geolocation Technology Uses
Actually, using geolocation to find our way from Point A to Point B, locating people in crisis situations, and providing information on particular surroundings is a good use of the technology. Using it for marketing purposes? That’s a bit of a paradigm shift.
The Value of the Mayor’s Badge
There are companies out there who are making a go of it, though. Perhaps the best known is Foursquare. The company has developed an app and partnered with the likes of Starbucks to bring you the excitement of “checking in” when you get that latte. The more often you check in, the more points you get, represented by various levels of badges. If you get the most points, you are named the mayor of that Starbucks for at least as long as you have the most points. Until recently, Starbucks ran a promotion in connection with this campaign; mayors got their latte at a discount.
Depending on how rabid a fan you are of Starbucks, how close it is to your business, how often you can sneak away from your desk, and whether you have a smartphone, you might find it a fun thing to do. Geotagging certainly helps cement a relationship between the shop and a certain, shall we say, echelon of customer, if not the poor schleps who can’t justify the cost of an iPhone or Android or Blackberry.
It’s fun and it’s new, so it gets a lot of play. The first time I looked at Foursquare, there was a comment from a potential client indicating that he had been rejected as a Foursquare shop because his business was not “a place to loiter,” although I notice that that no longer seems to be a barrier to entry. Lots of businesses are getting on board. Foursquare even suggests that business owners without brick-and-mortar stores team up with vendors who do have them and work out some sort of deal. Recently, Foursquare has also developed an automatic check-in app for those who may have begun to experience “check-in fatigue.” It works with the new G4 phones. (I wonder if that means the game is growing wearisome.)
Should You Use Geolocation Technology?
So, does this technology appeal to you? Do you think it would help drive traffic to your store? If so, what does it cost, and where do you sign up?
You sign up at www.foursquare.com. At the moment, there is no charge. Foursquare’s money comes from investors. That’s expected to change eventually. Even if getting your shop ready for check-ins remains a free service, other features may begin to have a price tag. For example, today you can be part of a “specials nearby” listing. I can see Foursquare monetizing this. Heck, I can see this becoming a feature for which you would have to bid.
Whether geotagging is good for your business depends on your customers and, to some extent, your corporate identity. But keep your ear to the ground on this one; a plethora of innovative ways have been devised to use it and no doubt others are in the works.
In the meantime, I think I’ll just sit back and sip my latte. Mayorship, you know, has its privileges.