You know that something is becoming huge when both the New York Times and the Economist are writing stories about a relatively new technology during the same week. Include that with the huge sums of money and hype being dumped on Foursqare and other location based social networks, and you really have to wonder if this is the real deal. And then of course, Facebook unveils “Places” on US mobile applications, and the pundits are talking as if this will be an unstoppable new marketing channel. But then you tie that in with the Forrester Report which says that only 4% of Americans have tried a similar service and only 1% are using the service at least once a week, and you have to start wondering if it’s all just hype.
When I talk to clients these days, everyone who is new, cool and innovative wants to talk about creating Foursqare badges, and super engaging ways to get people excited about their companies. It’s like the whole mantra of using social media to help enhance what you already do to drive business and revenue is thrown out of the window.
This is the next wave, people will tell you. This is when you think outside of the box. Of course, ask around that corporate office, and the only people who are using location based social networks are the social media people. Who’s in the box?
Money has been and will continue to be made on these networks. This is why Facebook is getting in on the game. There is a value in having this physical/virtual world tie-in for some businesses. But this, out of all of the other social media channels, is not for every business. In fact, it’s probably not for the masses either, and I think Facebook will soon find that out.
Look into your business from a marketing, PR and sales perspective. Can you really add to the experience that your customer has by adding a new level of engagement on mobile? If it is, then by all means, get to work. On the other hand, if you are a tanning salon, and you want to create a confusing game where people collect badges from Walmart, Target and Jamba Juice to win a free month of tanning, it’s time to walk away from the hype.