The Main Players in the Location-based Service Space
If you are venturing into location-based marketing, it is important to know a bit about potential providers and their differentiators. Let’s start with the main players in the location-based service (LBS) space.
The main players in the LBS space have a similar set of features. Each of them allows users to check in to a location, but each one has its own take on checking in. Some allow you to build offers, some promote retention and loyalty, and others focus on discovery.
Facebook Places: Launched in August of 2010, Facebook Places allows users to share where they are, connect with friends, and find local deals. Any of Facebook’s 650 million users can use Facebook Places. You can reach the largest social networking audience with Facebook’s Facebook Deals platform, but the customer service has been inferior to date, and getting analytics for campaigns is challenging.
foursquare: The idea of the check-in first came to fruition with foursquare. With over 10 million members, foursquare is easily the most popular of all the LBS platforms. The system features check-ins, tips, badges, and points for accomplishments, a leaderboard, the most comprehensive specials platform, a way for users to explore nearby tips, and an application programming interface (API) that allows anyone to use its functionality to write their own applications.
Gowalla: The Gowalla platform is dedicated to exploration and storytelling. Consider it a virtual passport. Users check in to places and collect stamps and virtual items along the way. Gowalla is focused on the user experience.
Brands and users alike can create trips that help a user discover a series of places. Users are then given a pin to show that they completed the trip. Disney has been using these custom pins to help users explore the parks. USA Today created a series of trips to encourage exploration in major US cities.
SCVNGR: Probably the most different from any of the other LBSs, SCVNGR lets you set up elaborate scavenger hunts. SCVNGR calls its platform a game layer on top of the world.
Aside from traditional scavenger hunts, it’s ideal for creating a series of activities that act as a template to show users how to experience your brand. SCVNGR also has a rewards platform that allows you to give users incentives to do these tasks, which SCVNGR calls challenges.
WHERE: WHERE allows you to target consumers based on their location. In December 2010, WHERE was awarded a patent for geofencing technology, which allows events to be triggered when a user carrying a mobile phone enters a virtual area called a geofence. WHERE is one of the first LBSs to unlock the power of local advertising.
Yelp: Founded in 2004, Yelp was created with the intention of helping customers find great local businesses like dentists, hair stylists, and mechanics. As of January 2011, more than 45 million people visited Yelp in the past 30 days. Yelpers have written over 15 million local reviews. It also includes a specials platform. Aside from specials, Yelp allows you to advertise and add pictures of your place.
You can choose more than one. Because most of these are free, you’re risking only your time if one doesn’t work for you.