Location-based app participation

While I was on vacation this past weekend for a wedding in Lexington, Kentucky I was at a couple of pretty amazing places.  One I won’t divulge due to the homeowner’s privacy, but the other was Spindletop Hall.  What came to my mind on the long drive home back to Des Moines was if people are at a great event or at a beautiful place, what is their propensity to use their phones with location-based apps to tell their friends where they are?  I realize this is where Foursquare comes right into play, but in thinking about location based apps potential for long-term success, what is the likelihood that people will use them when at these events?

The use of mobile Twitter and Foursquare apps make it very convenient for people to use their phones to share their locations, but I know when I am at fun, fast paced events like wedding receptions, I’m too busy talking to everyone to think about tweeting about it.  Perhaps it depends on the event.  If I’m at a baseball game or hanging out at Starbucks or Caribou using their wifi and enjoying a coffee, there is plenty of down time to access my phone to share where I am.

Businesses should be thinking about how their customers use Twitter or Foursquare when at their establishments and adjust their social media strategy accordingly.  Target, for example, should probably not count on many of their customers to use Foursquare when they are shopping at their stores. Generally, when people are shopping, they aren’t thinking about telling people when and where they are shopping but about what things they need to buy. However, many companies are beginning social media participation incentives for customers who do check in on location-based apps, so perhaps those would be good entry points.

It’s difficult to pinpoint how successful companies will be when implementing marketing programs around mobile social media apps and there are tremendous challenges in getting high participation rates in these types of programs.  What these apps provide, however, is yet another way to influence customer buying decisions and if companies can find creative ways do so, it enhances their brand even more and adds another way to interact with their customers.

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