Geolocation and location-based social networks

Geolocation and location-based social networks are buzzwords of the moment, particularly in social-media circles. Whether you’re a business owner, a marketer, or a consumer, you’ve noticed friends “checking in” on Foursquare or associating locations with their latest tweets. Small businesses and huge brands alike are trying to figure out this new and continually evolving space.

That’s for good reason: People are using an array of location-aware apps and online features, and some have been proven to provide social-media savvy businesses – especially businesses with a storefront or venue – with a boost.

Using Location-Based Social Networks in Business: Learning the Basics

Geolocation and location-based social networksThe location-based services market is burgeoning, with check-in-based companies such as FoursquareGowalla,Yelp, and Brightkite leading the way (at last check, Foursquare is adding some 15,000 new users every day). More recently, the more established social players have entered the market. With the advent of Google Local and Twitter Places, Facebook has even made it clear posting a current location – not exactly check-ins, but close – is a feature it intends to offer soon.

“Looking at the big picture, location is where social media was in 2005 or 2006,” says Rob Reed, an industry blogger. “Location is growing so much faster than social media ever did. One year from now, we’ll see location jump the equivalent of three years social media time.”

Using geolocation for business isn’t just about the check-ins, which can feel a bit empty and redundant (say a customer walks into your bar. If they check in, will they buy more drinks? Highly unlikely). The act of checking in, while it’s the obvious first connection, is not where the value lies in these networks. It’s the data that checking in and the behaviors revealed about a customer’s patterns and habits that really add to the experience.

“If you’re a business who appreciates what Facebook and Twitter have done for you, location is going to be 10 times more valuable,” Reed says.

To appreciate part of the benefits your business can reap, think like a customer. By checking in, they’re in a sense affirming to a wide net of friends and online connections that they “like” your business. It’s a sort of endorsement. And, it can deepen the connection between the geolocation using customer and your business. Unlike mobile advertising, it’s all about engagement in these networks with both existing and potential customers.

Location and physical place is huge for businesses and marketers. It changes everything. By sharing your coordinates, you’re merging location and the Web, essentially sharing where you shop, what you eat, what you read, and everywhere you go. As a business, small or large, it’s time to utilize location-based social networks if you aren’t already.

Read here the full article.

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