Checking In on Location Check-ins


Location based media and Check-ins have been called “the next big thing” for a while now.

I have to admit, 18 months ago, I was dismissive. I didn’t feel that location media would catch on and some would say that it hasn’t really. But, over this time, check-in technology has advanced, user bases have grown and times have changed.

Yesterday, Facebook announced a repositioning of location/check-ins on their platform. This is similar to what we see from Twitter as well and seems to represent “where” location is at relative to social networking. Location is not so much a front and center type of activity, but a layer of social information relative to content. When Facebook launched “Places” last year, many felt this was the end of start-ups like Foursquare or Gowalla. And here we are a year later – Places is no more, and Foursquare has reached the 15M user mark and a fresh round of $600M in funding.

So now the landscape of Check-ins positions location as relevant background with social content, apart from Foursquare, where Check-ins are the focus of the content.

The kicker here as I see it is not really a location “issue”, but the growing and established importance of mobile. The very concept of mobile goes hand in hand with location. With mobile internet use due to outpace desk-top use by 2015 – what was once seen as “the battle for location” is really all about mobile.

User value in Check-ins remains in 2 primary places:

  • Deals -“What can I get for checking in?”
  • Status – “Look where I am (sports event, concert, etc…)!”

Keep those two values top of mind and have them guide you when looking to leverage location and Check-ins for sports marketing purposes.


What’s The Deal with Facebook Deals?


Yesterday, Facebook announced the launch of Deals. So what is this and why does it matter?

Facebook Deals is focused on mobile and location based social media. You will recall a while back when Facebook announced it’s Places feature – now Deals layers on the ability for Places users to see what kinds of offers are around them as they check in on their mobile device. So for example – on your next trip downtown, you check in at a Starbucks and can see that there is a deal nearby you right now – perhaps a sale on team jerseys at the team store. In you go, and pick a couple jerseys up for holiday gifts.

The value is clear – but consider that a mere 1% of mobile users use any kind of check-in technology right now. So, what’s the big deal?

  1. Potential – Facebook has over 200 million active mobile users right now. Even 1% of that number is significant and it will likely grow.
  2. Risk – There is an apprehension for a lot of users surrounding the security/privacy issue of check-ins. Will it be widely adopted just as Tweets and Facebook status updates were? Time will tell…
  3. Behaviour – In a previous post, I shared the fact that mobile internet use will outpace desktop use by 2015. The mobile battle is underway, and the race to “own” the location services/market is on.

Current location players such as Foursquare, representing a respectable 7M+ users, offer more of a game element with badges and mayorships in addition to the feature of deals and special offers. It remains to be seen how they will respond to Facebook Deals (apparently, new features will arrive at years’ end/Q1 2011).

Lastly, what should you do about this now? My whole position on location has been a wait and see policy. In the last few months, I’ve been a heavy Foursquare user as the announcement of Places and the growth of the Foursquare platform merritted attention. I cautioned sports marketers to include location opportunities in promotions and social projects, but not to focus on them – and for good reason. This is a constantly evolving space (BTW – if your team still has a myspace page, you can take it down now), and investing too much time, energy and (hopefully) sponsor activation dollars may not add up.

The take away – claim your venue or location properties now – here’s how. Keep watching this space and your physical neighbors for what happens and evolves here. This matters.

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