Posted April 18, 2011 6:52 pm by with 2 comments

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We know that social media users love their coupons and deals, but according to a new study by White Horse, this is not their primary interest when using a geo-location based social network tool.

Take a look at the chart below. You’ll see the “connecting to other people I know or could meet” was the primary reason for using a geolocation service. 41% of the people chose that answer with the next highest (21%) going with “Finding a place liked by people I trust.” Getting discounts and winning virtual prizes rated very low on the scale.

Of those surveyed, nearly half of the respondents said they use Facebook Places. Foursquare and Google Latitude each got around 25% of the pie. The good news / bad news for geo-location marketers is that even though 57% of smartphone users are aware of such applications, only 39% use them. And you already know the biggest reason they aren’t using them — privacy concerns.

It’s easy to dismiss privacy concerns as paranoia. Of the thousands of people who give away their location via a social media service, how many will actually suffer for it? Not many. . . or is that what we like to think?

Have you heard about “If I Die?” It’s a Facebook app that allows you to record a message which is handed over to a trusted friend who will post it when you pass (assuming you go before they do or Facebook does.) To promote the service, AdAge says that the app company is using location Tweets to track down people in public places. They then call that person and suggest that now would be a good time to record that final message. If I hadn’t read it in AdAge, I’d assume that story was an urban legend from Syfy’s new series.

Getting back to the Lost in Geolocation Report, the second biggest reason people don’t use geo-location is because they don’t see the benefit. No benefit? That means marketers aren’t doing their jobs right. Simply listing your company with Foursquare or Places isn’t enough and apparently, adding a coupon isn’t the answer either.

If White Horse’s report is right, then the trick is to play into that concept of “social connection.” Remember when we talked about the new Facebook Deals program? That’s the perfect melding of deal, geo-location and social connection.

Here’s an example from the report:

An outdoor retailer might provide coordinated guidance for local hikes or environmental projects, for instance, while a bookstore might offer news of nearby events and signings. Content that brings people together, whether delivered through a mobile website or a custom app, ultimately provides a better connection than a shallow endorsement of check-ins.

That last sentence is key. Geo-location is about more than just check-ins and it’s not just for restaurants and retail stores. I love TV and movie production. When I’m in Los Angeles, I’d love to have an app that looks at my location and tells me what was filmed on the surrounding streets. That would be worth giving up my private information. That would be a benefit to me.

What would benefit you? What would benefit your customers? That’s the your homework for today. Before you get started, head over to White Horse and download the full Lost in Geolocation Report. It’s free as long as you don’t mind giving them some of your personal information.

  • Interesting stats Cynthia. On the privacy issue, at some point every one of these businesses makes a decision based on $ and changes their policy. Facebook is a prime example.

  • Cynthia Boris, go to before it’s too late.