Why Location Matters for the Smarter Biz

Image representing Brightkite as depicted in C...

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I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up, but there are a few location-based services out there that are vying for the top spot. Here’s a brief rundown of the top 3 contenders:

  • BrightkiteBrightkite has been around the longest, and has some pretty great features. Rumor has it that they’ll be unveiling some pretty cool stuff at SXSWi. Brightkite is based around the idea of posts (notes on a location) and simple check-ins. Something I’m thankful is that BK puts more emphasis on people than on location. They’ve got some pretty awesome partners as well: NBC, CBS, MTV, & Verizon.
  • FoursquareFoursquare seems to be the crowd favorite right now. Framing location-based networking as a game, Foursquare incorporates achievements (called badges), points, and “mayorships” (most-frequent users). They’ve recently removed the iPhone app from the store, which signals a major update coming soon for the business backed by Zagat & Bravo.
  • Gowalla - The dark-horse in the shootout, but backed by some awesome names (Gary Vaynerchuk, Kevin Rose). Gowalla also takes a slightly different approach to geo-networking, taking a “items” based approach rather than the badges approach of Foursquare or the straightforward, no-frills approach of Brightkite.

But the real question, is whoever wins, how can you use it for business?

5 Ways to Embrace Geonetworks

  1. Advertise, advertise, advertise! - The two big boys both allow businesses to advertise on their networks, so that when someone is near your location, they get a notification. Coupons, deals for geonetworkers, and other creative forms of marketing will be extremely efficient on targeted networks. Here are the links to the advertising info on Brightkite and Foursquare
  2. Acknowledge the Geonetworkers! – Acknowledge the Geonetworkers in your storefront, restaurant, or organization. Why? Because those who are on location-based networks are often the cutting edge people in your city. They are the ones who are also on Twitter & Facebook. They will give your business a shout-out if they consider you a part of the group moving forward with technology. Free advertising.
  3. Embrace Statistics. Using the dashboards, reports, and analytics provided by the networks, you can more effectively use and target your advertising to your demographic. The statistics, while boring, will also assist you in being more effective, which will in turn bring in customers. This is one area where geonetworks rule over traditional social-networks: they have an obvious and measureable ROI.
  4. Don’t Ignore Other Dimensions. Because the geonetworks are location-based, they are also time-based, which means you can not only target a specific people within a particular location, but you can do it within certain time frames. Having a special one night? Advertise all day at your location. The possibilities are endless.
  5. Be Ready for Change. All of this shootout stuff between Foursquare, Brightkite, and Gowalla goes out of the window if for some reason Twitter decides to incorporate location. But while it’s the latest thing, you may as well use it for influence. :)

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