Location-based services (LBS) – like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp – made a big splash last year as a fairly successful, yet niche, mobile tactic for brands aiming to reach consumers in the real-world. They are great platforms for rewarding loyalty, real-time consumer reviews & tips, and for those who like such a thing, keeping track of your friends/family. I’ve “played” Foursquare consistently for a year now and dabbled in the others – Gowalla, Yelp, Loopt, SCVNGR. There’s interesting potential with this sort of technology, particularly when integrated with placed-based signage. But as I’ve wandered over the last year, I’m left wondering if these technologies will stick and ultimately reach the average consumer. And more than that, what it will take for them to reach that point? Here are my chronicles.
Today, I recorded my 600th check-in on Foursquare. Here’s what it’s gotten me:
- Maybe 5 specialty frites appetizers from Houlihans
- Maybe 10 cheesecake chimichangas from Taco Bueno
- Less than 5 mayorships, complete with their special badge and pronouncement to the world – of which, I currently hold onto 1 mayorship
- Countless tweets, which some would consider spam
- Familiarity and adeptness of the platform and others like it
- 0 connections of any real value
I did the breakdown of time, too. If I spend 30 seconds on the check-in process, 600 check-ins equates to 5 hours of my time. Estimating my freebies, I would say that the total dollar value I’ve received is ~$40. That means my time, through the game, is roughly worth $8/hour. Hardly worth it looking through that lense.
However, 5 hours of total time, over at least a year is less than ½ hour a month. Through that lense, it’s minimal investment and I don’t feel that put out.
Is all this going to stop me from checking-in from this point forward? No.
Because why? Well, that’s kind of the point – why not? It’s easy. It’s minimal time on my part, and I actually get something in the end. Even if it, too, is minimal.
But here’s the thing – isn’t that the wrong question any new technology and/or brand and/or community should be eliciting? Instead of “why not,” don’t we want people to be driven by the “why?”
Why I want to spend my time with this technology and/or brand and/or community is because it gives me X value.
Not just because it’s easy.