Now that Facebook has entered the location-based services market, "places" – and the information generated by users about those places – is the next digital bonanza.
What to do with all that geo-data? Comedian Stephen Colbert has his ideas. Brand marketers, meanwhile, are eager to reward users for recommendations.
According to Gigaom's Mathew Ingram, the next digital leap forward is for first-generation services like Foursquare "to effectively make social decisions easier." As for which service to go with? Decisions, decisions...
Two services are already making decisions a little easier and a lot more crowdsourced: The Hotlist and Hunch.com.
Launched in March with $800,000 from angel investors, The Hotlist has already logged 3 million events that their users plan to attend at over one million worldwide locations. Targeting college students, it aggregates information from users’ social networks through Facebook’s Places API, pulling in data from social graphs, location-based tweets and Yelp reviews and enabling users to share future plans.
Flickr cofounder Caterina Fake's Hunch.com offers Hunch Local, polling users’ social data on Facebook or Twitter, but layiering on a series of questions to add ‘hunches’ about locations you might like based on your answers.
The advertising opportunities inherent in this next generation of LBS services are exponential, and offering daily rewards to consumers is an integral component.
Yipit cofounder Vinicius Vacanti shared his thoughts with Business Insider on how brands can get in on Groupon place-based deals:
1. Daily Deals are a reward to your audience, *not* an advertisement.
Creating a daily deal for your audience isn’t just a monetization strategy, it truly is an awesome service you’re doing on their behalf. It’s imperative that you position it this way to your audience and think of it this way internally.
2. How to introduce the Daily Deal to Your Audience: Provide substantial data about your community: how many people; top purchase choices; negotiated discount; time-sensitive offer.
3. Use Your Authority: Make it clear to your community why ‘this is a good deal,’ and vet your offerings via your team and your users’ choices.
4. Give Your Audience a Sense of Exclusivity
5. Daily Deals Can Be More than Revenue: Promote longer-term relationships through additional discounts to frequent users, offer deal-sharing, encourage/incent visitors to create accounts.
6. Partnering is Tricky: This offers good and bad options. Bad includes: embedding services like Groupon and co-branded daily deal services. Good includes: white-labeled daily deal services with hosted technology solutions and sell-in capability; or figure out the technology and sales yourself; acquire an existing daily deal site – there are 120-plus to choose from.
Media brands are perfectly poised, he argues, to jump on the LBS and Daily Deal bandwagon. According to Vacanti, media players already experimenting with this include the Washington Post, SF Gate, BuzzFeed, Zagat, Open Table, Yelp, and Gilt Groupe.
The race is on for the next digital frontier in LBS, and the territorial imperative is clear: worthwhile rewards, recommendations with integrity, and germane marketing.