« Social Media Policies and Guidelines Have Different Audiences | Main | The 3six5 Project: Be Aware this Ides of March »

03/15/2010 Foursquare, Brands and Location-Based Rewards

Foursquare announced a partnership with Starbucks last week. Starbucks' customers who check in with Foursquare have a chance to win a Barista badge. This comes on the heels of another brand, Tasty D-Lite, who’s rewarding loyal customers who check in with Foursquare with points on their customer cards. Ultimately it might be worth a free ice cream.

TastiDLite1Most everyone agrees that we’ll see more and more brands jumping into location-based marketing. The question they’re all struggling to answer is: What’s in it for the customers?

A Barista badge might be cool, but it’s not that cool. Starbucks is playing around with ideas like invitations to special events or online reputation scores (?). Tasty D-Lite is going a more traditional route with the virtual punch card. I wonder, though, if either of these provides very much value to customers.

If you look at the witch’s brew of Foursquare and Gowalla at SXSW, a good experimental lab, you’ll find that many of the attendees find the value of the location-based tools in letting others know where to find them. The connection is the value. Sure, there are badges, but I don’t see anyone tweeting them. While reward is the people, the location can sometimes takes a back seat.

At home, there’s a slight value to mayorship, but not much. Defending a mayorship can quickly become a burden. Instead, there’s a joy in seeing others in the same spot, or asking them about the notes they leave. But even then, there are bunches of people using Twitter who are not using Foursquare or Gowalla, even though they respond to Foursquare tweets.

I’m not sure virtual clip cards or online reputation awards will work. Instead, brands should use those connections to create even greater connections between its customers, preferably at the place of business. I can think of a few of my favorite Foursquare places where I’d love it if they had a private party for their best Foursquare customers. I’m sure people would kill to get into those.

Location-based marketing feels very cool and we’re just starting to understand what it means. But those brands that can use it to make real human connections, and not just give out flimsy rewards, will provide the most value to customers and earn their loyalty.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Foursquare, Brands and Location-Based Rewards:


My Web Sites