Checking, Checking. Checking 1, 2, 3…

You sit down to dinner at a restaurant, looking forward to a nice meal with friends. But before you can start to talk, one of your friends pulls out her cell phone and… checks you in?

Welcome to 2012, where this newest trend is thanks to location-based networks. Location-based networks are social media sites that give people the chance to login and share their locations as well as play games, earn rewards and provide details about the places they visit. More people using smartphones (1.8 billion of all cell phones today) has helped develop location-based networks such as foursquare and SCVNGR.

While this may seem odd to some – you mean you tell everyone where you are? – it has developed into a great marketing tool for businesses. So, how can your business take advantage of location-based networks? First, familiarize yourself with the networks you can utilize. Among the most popular are:

1. foursquare, which gives users the opportunity to not only check in themselves, but also receive notifications for where friends are visiting. Foursquare recommends places to visit and what to purchase based on your location and the types of places you and your friends have liked before. Additionally, foursquare gives businesses the opportunity to offer discounts and free give-a-ways. More than 750,000 businesses use the Merchant Platform.
2. SCVNGR , a game that involves going to different locations, completing tasks and accumulating points that can lead to a prize. Users have fun meeting the challenges they are faced with, while businesses can create the challenges and build in discounts or free items to be discovered. Along with foursquare, all SCVNGR activity can be streamed through other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
3. GetGlue, a network that focuses more on entertainment. Users can check-in and make others aware of what they are watching, reading or listening to at any given moment. Suggestions made by users can lead to receiving stickers plus discounts and other materials from the content they’ve praised.  
4. Facebook, where you can now share your location whether it is done on your mobile device or on your computer. Check-ins via Facebook on your iPhone, Android or Windows Phone 7 can also result in receiving coupons or discounts.

After you’ve set your business up on one or all of these platforms, start promoting your brand through them! According to Brian Honigman of Marc Ecko Enterprises, there’s plenty of ways to do so, as he outlines in his post titled, “5 Ways to Market Your Brand with Location-Based Networks” via Mashable.  Honigman’s suggestions include sending notifications to smartphone users to promote what’s going on at the business, implementing loyalty programs for those who regularly check-in, taking advantage of geofencing (according to RWW), creating multimedia for users to share, and consistently coming up with new and better content for viewing on the networks.

Location-based marketing is still relatively new, but as smartphones continue to become more prevalent, so will the networks that users visit. Get ahead of the game and give your customers the option to check in, and check out your business.

Information found on the following sites:
Microsoft Tag – http://tag.microsoft.com/community/blog/t/the_growth_of_mobile_marketing_and_tagging.aspx
Mashable.com – http://mashable.com/2012/04/10/marketing-location-networks/
New York Times – http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/drilling-down-small-businesses-and-location-based-marketing/
foursquare – https://foursquare.com/about/
SCVNGR – http://www.scvngr.com/about
GetGlue – http://getglue.com/about
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/about/location

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