Are geo-social apps right for your business? It’s worth thinking about

Some businesses are having big successes by marketing themselves on geo-social apps like Foursquare. Others… not so much. Why is that? Why do some fail while others succeed?

That was the subject of an article on today. They talked to a few Ontario businesses about marketing with Foursquare and other services in that mould, and how valuable those campaigns were to their businesses. In the case of Toronto’s Magic Oven, the experience wasn’t the greatest:

“It’s not quite the experiment that works for a small, little business like us,” said Tony Sabhewal of the Magic Oven, an organic pizza restaurant with five locations in Toronto.

“My experience is that you’re rewarding the people that are anyways coming to you,” he added. “We’re not quite an everyman’s pizza place so we’re not looking for every guy walking across the street to make a beeline just because he gets a free beverage or a free desert. I experimented with it, but it didn’t quite go the way I like it to.

“My experience has been average, at best, in terms of bringing in new people.”

On the other hand, Sabhewal says the company’s presence on Facebook has been valuable to him. “I really think that it’s a very worthwhile presence. I get feedback from that presence that is much more valuable than any other emails I get.”

While some businesses didn’t have the greatest experience, others are embracing Foursquare head-on. For instance, Starbucks is offering the “Barista” badge to Foursquare users who visit five locations.

So what’s the difference between geo-social success and failure? As the CBC article points out, businesses need to look at a few things before embarking on such a campaign:

  • Is everyone, particularly front-line customer service staff, aware of your company’s Foursquare campaign? Customers don’t want to unlock a coupon only to have it rejected by staff.
  • If prizes, coupons, etc., are to be earned by customers, do they know how to earn them?
  • What does your clientele look like? Are Foursquare users, a younger, mostly male, segment of the population who you want to reach out to?

It seems like it’s mainly about due diligence. You can’t just start a marketing campaign because you heard some buzzwords about the latest trend; it’s important to consider whether there’s real value in such a campaign.