Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Location Based Social Networking

We all know that social networking is becoming a more and more popular way to market ourselves to audiences of all ages. The advancement of technologies in this area makes for ever more interesting ways to ensure we have a presence in this important form of media.

In a recent edition of Ideas 4Success - a marketing e-newsletter put out by my favorite promotional materials company, 4Imprint - they talk about location based social networking (LBSN) and how it can be used by any organization to increase their presence in social media and to get more people in your doors.

Did you know that on November 5, 2010 international clothing retailer Gap, gave away 10,000 free pairs of jeans to US customers? With no catch other than visiting a local Gap store and virtually 'checking in' to the location using Facebook's Places application. “Check-in” with a smartphone sends the customer’s physical location to the Facebook Places application. If the location matched that of a Gap store, the check-in was valid and a free pair of jeans was rewarded. Gap's giveaway was intended to build awareness, develop a stronger customer base, boost sales and foster positive word-of-mouth marketing (a very popular buzz word these days) among consumers and the media.

Wouldn't we all like to do those things? Here's how it works to help market your library. After users check in, an update is posted to their account profile on the chosen LBSN. This allows other LBSN contacts to see where their friends are and where they’ve been. If users so choose, they can also link their LBSN profile to other social accounts, such as Twitter or LinkedIn, to share location updates with multiple online social networks. Pretty soon your location is broadcast to dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people.

Here is how to get started:

  1. Choose a LBSN and get registered. There are more sites than just Facebook that offer this technology. BrightKite, Foursquare, Gowalla and others are all being used in this way. However, Facebook Places ( is likely the most recognizable at this time. You will need to either 'Claim' your organization's Facebook Place or create one if it doesn't already exist. The complete guide for using Facebook Places to advertise your business is available at:, and it's easy to do.
  2. Set goals for your marketing efforts. What do you want to achieve by marketing in this way?
  3. Identify incentives and/or promotions. LBSNs work best when you can offer an incentive or promotion to get people in the door. The more people that advertise that they are at your library, the more successful your marketing campaign will be. Here are some suggested incentives/promotions provided by 4Imprint:
- Use it as a 'loyalty card'. A discount or promotion is given for every 'x' number of checkins (similar to the paper version of a punch card). For example, after 5 checkins at your library they get a free book bag.
- Use it as an upgrade mechanism. Give a free add-on to a current service or product purchase simply for checking in. Maybe they get an extra month on their library membership? Or $5.00 forgiven in fines?
- Use it to boost traffic on slow days or special days— If you’re launching a new product or service, or holding a special event, consider rewarding those who check-in during the specified time or date. A GREAT idea for our next Snapshot Day!
- Use it as an incentive for first-time users of LBSN. Operating a LBSN mobile application to check-in to a place for the first time can be a bit daunting. Who will see my update, and will anyone care? Ease the trepidation by offering a great first-timer perk.
- Use it as an incentive for repeat visitors. Many businesses reward their most “loyal” customer (the individual with the most check-ins) during a given period of time. This super-user is often referred to in LBSN language as the location’s “mayor".
- Use it as an incentive for bringing friends. Consider giving perks when a user checks in with more than one person. This is the idea behind Foursquare’s current “swarm badge”—a game-piece graphic, shaped as a badge, awarded to users who check in to a place with 50 or more other users at the same time.

4. You will need to set up the 'deal' you'd like to offer with your chosen LBSN. This won't be free, but it is not very costly either. Social networks tend to be one of the cheapest ways to market yourself.

5. Promote, promote, promote! Time to get people in the door.

Don't be afraid to be the first library to try this out. If you have questions or would like assistance in setting this up, please contact Terra.

No comments:

Post a Comment