When new location-based social networks including Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt – and similar location-based services from sites ranging from Facebook and Google to Yelp – began attracting widespread attention last year, many of us in the industry took note of the opportunities they presented for local businesses to reach consumers on-the-go and digitally spread positive word-of-mouth about their offerings.
According to a recent article on ReadWriteWeb, however, these location-based networks and services are losing their initial momentum. For example, statistics show that Foursquare – the early leader in the “check-in” space – has seen its web traffic decline about 50% over the past five months alone. There are also indications that many of its users are inactive, the article claims.
So what needs to be done to regain initial interest in the “check-in?” The article offers some interesting perspective on ways these offerings can innovate in order to attract more mainstream users and demonstrate added value to local businesses:
- Socializing: Location-based social networks and services will need to find new ways to make checking-in socially worthwhile, and not simply annoying. Addressing privacy concerns about sharing location will also be key.
- Deals: Existing location-based deals tend to reward decisions already made by offering discounts to consumers who are already about to make purchases at the local businesses where they check-in. Additionally, these deals are limiting because consumers need to be nearby the businesses in order to receive notification of offers. Sites like Groupon, for example, succeed because their deals can be accessed anywhere.
- Photos: Photos are extremely popular in the social web, so finding new ways to incorporate them into the “check-in” experience can help reignite interest. Foursquare recently launched a new photos and comments capability.
- Discovery: Currently, check-ins are limiting because they happen at the time users are at a local business. In effect, they simply rebroadcast decisions users have already made about what to do. The opportunity exists to allow users to search and select where they plan on going before they get there. This will give local businesses the chance to influence the consumers’ actions by intervening and sharing their offers in advance.
For more, read the full ReadWriteWeb article.