Until recently most companies saw social networking as a great tool to communicate with customers, but with no effective way to turn friends/followers into customers. Well, that’s all going to change now.
With location-based/geo-social marketing spaces such as Foursquare, marketers have finally found a way to use social networking to their advantage. What’s Foursquare you ask? It’s a social networking game that allows you to use your phone to alert your friends, in real-time, of your exact whereabouts. Users can build a friend network on Foursquare and allow only those people to be alerted to their whereabouts or they can connect their Foursquare account to Facebook and Twitter, in order to update their already existing friends of their whereabouts.
Now, Gap is one of the many companies that have used Foursquare to motivate customers to shop at their stores by offering discounts to customers if they “check in” their arrival at the store. At Gap’s “Blackmagic Event”, they offered a 25 percent discount and quickly saw a record number of sales during the one-day sale.
But Foursquare isn’t the only social networking site used by companies to entice customers to shop at their store. Olay and Pepsi also have used Booyah and Stickybits which does virtually the same thing as Foursquare, only they have a larger audience. Starbucks has used Brightkite to promote its Frappuccino drinks line since mid-May by allowing users to compete for a Frappuccino badge by tallying the most check-ins at their different locations. They’re also ran a similar promotion using Foursquare.
Not only will stores, restaurants, theme parks and other companies increase sales by offering a discount using Foursquare type social networks, but they’ll also increase brand awareness since the customers friends will see where they are and what they are doing when they sign in. Plus, when a user checks in they have the opportunity to leave a little tip about the venue and everyone can see this tip when they check in to a nearby location. If they like your tip, they can then save it as a “to-do” for themselves or tag a location using descriptive words, so others will know what to expect.
So with brands using new media and location-based/geo-social marketing spaces, the future looks profitable in taking the offline business online with a new twist.
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