Why is Location Based Social Networking catching on?
Networking inherently satisfies our social engagement needs or like Abraham Maslow would have put it – Every human craves for satisfying his or her need for belongingness i.e. to be part of a relationship, be part of a social group, work group, have a family etc. Now, people engage to satisfy different needs – Linkedin helps people to professionally engaged, Facebook helps people to be engaged with people who share similar interests via Facebook groups, Marketeers engage with potential customer, Blogs helps people to share their ideas and the list goes on. So, every networking site has carved out a niche for itself in the “Social” ecosystem.
Thus, at the heart of Social Networking is the intent to help people with shared interests stay connected.
That said, studies and common sense indicates that engagement gets more powerful as one gets more local. A shared interest of a group of people in the same neighbourhood would be to know people want to know what’s going on in their neighbourhood. They share this common interest based on where they live or places they visit frequently visit – So, it who I know but about where I live . That’s my location network.
Why is location network starting to play an important role?
Location network has always been important. It’s just that we are beginning to realise that dream. An individual’s inherent desire is always to keep him / her close to a network that he/she can relate to on a day to day, hour to hour basis. Yes, it would be good to know what my professional acquaintance is working on these days or what my friends, in a distant geography, are doing. But equally important is one’s need to stay informed, engaged with businesses, people, places that one gets in touch with on a day to day basis. Would you not want to know if there is an exhibition happening 2 blocks from your residence? Would you not want to know about the best dishes served in your neighbourhood restaurants? Would you not want to know about the cool deals at your local grocery store? Would you not want to know what events are being held in your area? Of course, the answer is a outright “Yes”. Yes, one would surely want to stay connected to his/her surroundings or location.
This sharing of information about your neighbourhood also helps visitors to your neighbourhood. Again, its human instinct to better trust the information provided by a local inhabitant of the area rather that information obtained by “googling” or on Yahoo where the content need not necessarily be created by someone from that given location
How can Location Based information sharing help?
- Provides better, enriched Contextual information
- Provides “real” information because sharing of information happens primarily through mobile device and it happens as an when the event/action/decision etc occurs
- Meets localised information needs as the shared interest of the group is the location
- More trustworthy as the publisher of the information is someone who has physically been there and who has done that(eaten, watched, played etc) himself/herself
- Promotes physical contact among people interested in similar things – who is in that area & doing what
- Helps in managing individual engagement
- Enables localisation – Provides local comments and reviews, provides information on local gatherings, local offers and transactions, proximity dating, helps with crime watch in the area, provides local news and city reports
Names of some of the key players –
How the Business can benefit?
The key to location based marketing would be Proximity. With a better understanding of preference of people inhabiting a specific locale, marketers can –
- Better Rewards programs can be designed which has day to day and direct relevance to the demographics of a given location.
- Manage Customer Interactions in a more informed way and deliver the moments of truth
E.g. Through a foursquare geostream information, your friendly neighbourhood Starbucks can get to know
- What people in a given location or neighbourhood prefer?
- What each of the individuals normally has?
- How frequently do they visit that Starbucks?
- Are they “in & out” kind of customers or do they spend time browsing, meeting up with friends or having meetings etc?
With knowledge of the above, your neighbourhood Starbucks for example can do the following
- Since they know that you frequent the place, they can introduce a Rewards program which gives the customer a free drink for every 4 drinks that he/she purchases
- Provide free Wifi access and access to conferencing rooms at regular intervals
- Interact with me giving me the impression that I am a known face in the Starbucks and they could suggest if I wanted to have my regular drink – A Cafe Mocha? Wow, wouldn’t you like it if people start recognising you as an individual.
- The importance of usage of Location Based networking is not only for the people in a given neighbourhood. It is also for the people visiting the neighbourhood would
- Be interested in the places to see there
- Like to learn about the “things to do”
- Be interested in knowing the restaurants that the local people frequent
- Want to learn about the deals that the retailers, book shops, restaurants , theatres etc are providing
- Like to have face to face interactions as opposed to online chat. For example, you happen to be alone in a pub having a couple of drinks and you like company. You can simply check-in to the location and find other people at the same location
So, businesses can design custom, localised marketing promotions and deliver the proposition suited to a given location and a specific demographic
- Serves as another channel for feedback collection based on what customers are saying about a check-in at a specific location. The great part is that customers share their opinions, feedbacks specific to a location (i.e. retail store, restaurant, housing complex etc). This helps in better identifying and addressing issues & concerns because any business can exactly pin point the operation location unit where the issues are arising. That can as well serve as a precursor and the business can proactively implement changes in other operational locations. Thus, location based content helps enterprises to manage operations at a micro level by understanding local tastes and preferences and accommodating and adjusting their business value propositions accordingly. Location based contextual information also will help businesses in effectively decentralise enterprise operations to enable easier, better realisation of 1to1 marketing
This is the future.
All businesses always start local and then go regional or global. So location based content helps the business to stay regional or global but manage customers at a local level. Would you not want your neighbourhood Macy’s retail store which is a national retailing chain to function just as “Mr. Jones’s retail shop” operates? So, location data helps in building the platform for the big brands to manage their operations just the Mom & Pop shops of the neighbourhood which is what any resident in a given neighbourhood would aspire for.
Location Based Networking, marketing, content generation is here to stay because engagement gets more powerful as one gets more local