Do Your Customers Check-in? How to Take Advantage of Location-Based Applications

Have you checked in? No, we’re not talking about rehab. We’re talking about location-based marketing. Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook are vying for the top spot in this relatively new marketing channel. Location-based marketing is not as complex as it sounds, but you’re probably left with more questions than answers. How does it work? Does it require my time? Are there benefits to hopping on to the location locomotive? Location-based applications are simple: Consumers “check-in” to places and share their location socially. In the case of FourSquare, it quickly becomes a contest, as the individual who has visited the location the most becomes Mayor, opening up it’s own can of marketing possibilities. Facebook and Yelp’s check-in features do not select a Mayor. Why location-based marketing? Because consumers are social. Privacy is nothing more than a seven-letter word. With the social web, it’s practically eliminated. Individuals share what they’re eating, their location, and their private thoughts. With the help of location-based check-in applications, your restaurant’s name can spread like wildfire. Here’s a quick example: Let’s say Matt “checked in” to your restaurant on Facebook and included his friends in the post. The post was displayed on everyone’s profile. If they collectively had 2,000 friends, your restaurant was just exposed to 2,000 people. And of course, someone was jealous they’re there, so they asked how it was. Your customer had an awesome night, so they posted about it. Your customer’s friend read about the stellar experience and made a reservation for next weekend. That’s right! You received new business because of one simple check-in on Facebook! Foursquare and Yelp are location-based apps on steroids. They do the same thing as Facebook, but post your check-in to Twitter and Facebook automatically. So, how can you use these location-based services to your advantage? Foursquare Only: Challenge Your Customers to Become Mayor of your restaurant. Once Mayor, they would received a benefit. For a coffee shop, it could be free coffee during their Mayorship. For a restaurant, it could be prime seating by the river. The examples are endless. Free Food for Check-Ins: A local BBQ restaurant in Burlington, VT rewards patrons who check-in on Facebook, Yelp, or Foursquare with free cornbread or pickles. You put the words free and cornbread in the same sentence, and we’re there. The future of location-based applications is just beginning. Soon, we’ll be flying like the Jetsons. You wait! Have you experimented with Foursquare, Facebook, or Yelp check-ins? What have you discovered?