Location-sharing apps such as Foursquare, Loopt Pulse, Gowalla, Stuck, MyTown and dozens of others have purpose beyond the obvious: mobile location marketing. They can be used by merchants to gauge moods, purchasing interest, and loyalty potential, then coupled with real incentives to increase leads and sales. Here are a few such uses.
What: This is more of a general method than an explicit use, but it does have marketing applications. An app range searches or scans for all users within a certain range of a given location.
Why: To make a time-limited special offer via push notification to mobile devices. E.g., “The next 5 people to stop by at our store before noon get a free Whatsit!” This only makes business sense if more than five people are around, some of whom might potentially purchase something.
2. Friend finding, friend recommendations.
What: Match up nearby users who are friends, based on social net info such as Facebook friend lists. Match up people who have similar interests, as indicated in their public location-sharing app user profile.
Why: Possibly to create an ad hoc network, ala Apple iGroups, for business benefit. For example, if there’s an event taking place where participants might benefit from meeting people with similar interests, they might be queried on joining an on-the-fly social net of nearby people, complete with profiles to browse. If your venue is hosting the event, enabling real social interaction increases the chances that people will stick around longer, possibly benefiting your business in terms of products and services purchased.
3. Mood sensing.
What: Determine how individual users are feeling at the moment. Apps like Stuck let you express your current mood, as well as share your location.
Why: For targeted location-based offers and virtual coupons. E.g., “Upset? Stressed out? Need a massage? $15 off before 3pm at our 3rd & Main location, if you quote this secret code: Oooooh aaaaah.”
What: Gather information from users about an event. (Crowdsourcing can be used in many ways; this is merely one way.)
Why: Poll for survey input from event attendees, possibly to improve future events, possibly to offer relevant on-the-spot discounts, or virtual coupons for future use.
5. Ushering/ crowd control by way of marketing incentive.
What: Manage large crowds with limited staff.
How: Poll for mobile devices in the vicinity running a location-sharing app, existing or custom. Give incentive to users to join an ad hoc network for onsite discounts, then push notifications about entrances, exists, transit, travel routes, to help ease crowd flow bottlenecks.
Image: Terren in Virginia.