Time To Start Checking In?

To continue with our last conversation, we’d like to discuss another leader in the location-tech trend: location-based check-in applications.  If you’ve had an ear on the social media scene over the past year, you’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about how apps like Foursquare and Facebook Places have been storming the social media scene. The potential benefits and rewards they can bring – particularly to small businesses – make them worth paying attention to.

Facebook Places
The social media behemoth entered the check-in app realm last August. Places allows users to check-in at a location via smartphones to tell friends where they are, who they’re with and comment on the venue.  While lacking some of the more exciting features of other apps, its access to over 500 million users makes it a powerful player. Recently, Facebook also added a “Deals” option, which allows businesses to offer customers exclusive discounts and coupons through Places. As Facebook continues to evolve and advance this platform with more enticing services such as these, its popularity and use will continue to make it an influential tool for SMB users.

A pioneer of location-based apps, Foursquare was introduced in March of 2009. Designed as a fun way for people to use social media to incite person contact, Foursquare offers badges and rewards to users as they check in at various locations. Alternatively, it is also a useful tool for bringing in new or returning customers to your store. Businesses can use Foursquare to engage customers by offering various “Specials” to loyal or new customers when they check-in at your venue. Not only does this help increase foot traffic, but it also helps foster a relationship with your customers.

Foursquare also offers a free dashboard with real-time statistics about your venue and customers. The dashboard inputs data into user friendly graphs that chart your most recent and frequent visitors, check-in times, unique visitors, gender breakdowns, and how many check-ins post to Twitter and Facebook.

Location based apps have the capability to bring global social media to a tangible level for local businesses. While a recent study from Forrester Research found that 4% of Americans use apps to check in at locations, experts predict rapid growth in the segment over the next few years, with sales reaching $12 billion by 2014. With Foursquare reporting 25,000 new users added each day, it looks like usage is clearly on the rise . That’s great news for small business owners, who can truly benefit from such direct access to a local consumer audience.

What location-based tools are you using to promote your business?

Source: money.cnn