Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
July 20, 201010:55 PM

The Myth Of Location

Why hasn't Foursquare and other location-aware platforms taken off?

Let's not dismiss the amazing growth that online platforms like Foursquare have had, but they certainly do not have the mass adoption trajectory or passionate users like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. So, what gives? Didn't us Marketers (and yes, I am lumping myself into this group) all think that location-aware goodness (and the ability to send a targeted message to someone who is physically close to whatever it is that you're selling) was the last mile of Marketing?

Location may be the last mile that consumers are afraid of.

Foursquare doesn't work for a lot of people because allowing anybody to know where you are at any given time still seems creepy to most. Granted, the thought of posting all of your personal content (in text, images, audio and video) to the world like we do on Facebook and YouTube probably seemed a little crazy too just a few years back. All of this just furthers the notion that technology and connectivity continues to change and evolve at such a rapid rate that many people don't "jump in" simply because they can't/don't see the application in their daily lives.

Are we going to open up a lot more in the coming years or become more reclusive?

Most people see mobile and location-aware technology as something that the vast majority will open to and embrace, but we must also be prepared for a minor backlash of, "enough is enough" as people begin to realize that everything they do (and every place they go) is, essentially, being tracked, recorded and turned into some kind of data/trending tool. While brands may not use this information in a specific one-to-one way, this type of trending and data mining can still give off that same eerie feeling we get when we hear The Police classic, 'Every Breath You Take.'

We're watching you.

While the specific information (who you are, where you live, etc...) may still be hidden (ok, with location-aware platforms, where you live is there for the world to see), let's not forget how violated the masses felt when they started to understand what a cookie meant during an online session. People are, naturally, concerned about privacy and how their information is being used. The trouble is that the more these Social Media tools and channels evolve, the more we're creating a very fragmented culture of those who benefit by divulging all from those who may become the freaks and weirdo because they're not letting everything they do be tagged, uploaded and shared with the rest of the online populous. Think about how we frown upon those who refuse to join Facebook.

Just because they can, it doesn't mean that they will.

As exciting as location-aware is, Marketers need to get cautious and put the right levers in place today so that we don't blow this (and so that the government doesn't step in to regulate and police it as well). The opportunity is there to create real interactions with real human beings in a real and meaningful way. Historically, we haven't been great at getting this done right (think about spam, click fraud, telemarketing, etc...). Our culture of making people read the fine print and promoting offers that are subject to change hasn't helped either. For location-aware to truly take off, we need to put the consumer first... and they need to know (not feel) that they are in control of divulging their location, information and the types of messaging and people they would like to connect to. Otherwise, Marketing (advertising, communications and public relations) will lose out in the end.

It would be sad to see the world of Social Media, mobility and location never come to fruition because Marketers and the platform developers could not restrain ourselves from being intrusive, annoying and predatory. 

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • This is one of the few posts I've seen questioning the wonders of location-based service marketing (like Foursquare). It ultimately comes down to be sensible and practical, individually for each business.

    You're right, there are many hard realities to this technology and consumers using it. Wish more marketers would stop jumping on bandwagons and really take a look outside of their own bubble to what consumer are actually doing.

    Great, fresh perspective -- as always.

    Reply
    • I'm not questioning it. I think it's coming and it's going to be a huge part of who we are. Remember, all new things look extremely weird and have that, "I would never do that!" vibe when they first come out. I also don't think Marketers have jumped on this bandwagon at all... mostly because it has not become a bandwagon (just yet).

      Reply
  • Posted by Connie Crosby
    Mitch Joel

    While you make some great points, I think it is just too early to tell if these tools will see wider adoption. It took at least 2 1/2 years before Twitter hit the mainstream. Before that, we all wondered if perhaps it would just stay amongst the early adopters. And knowing what everyone was doing and thinking seemed a little creepy then, too.

    I'm actually surprised at how quickly Foursquare was picked up here in Toronto. It went from a small circle of early adopters to thousands of people I've never heard of within about 2 months. If businesses and service providers can figure out what this demographic is, and whether there is a fit for their marketing strategies, this might be leveraged nicely.

    Seems to me we are waiting for a good, successful "Special Offer" campaign to get the ball rolling, to really drive people to Foursquare. The campaigns to date seem to have fallen a bit flat.

    Reply
    • I agree with you Connie (as I usually do). But in this instance, Foursquare, Gowalla, etc... have all had the same exposure to the main group of folks who usually do get ideas like this spread. It was the hot n' heavy platform at SXSW (for two years now) and the usual suspects lauded its arrival. I guess it has me wondering why its trajectory has not been as impressive/fast as Facebook, Twitter, etc... It feels more niche to me, like FriendFeed.

      Reply
  • Posted by Daniel Waisberg
    Mitch Joel

    Interesting issue.

    I think the main difference between location based and other forms of sharing is that there is a security component attached to it, especially if we talk about celebrities. All the celebrities that joined the existing social networks (which also helped on the huge adoption) would never post their locations, they would be too exposed by that.

    And also rich people. We can't forget that we live in an increasingly dangerous world. People are hijacked, robbed, killed... And it is just a matter of time till the bad guys will learn these technologies. See the numerous researches on how the mafia uses Orkut in Brazil (that's the reason Brazil has the highest amount of requests for data from Google).

    I think this is not just a question of prepared or not, it is a question of audience; IMHO it cannot become ubiquitous as other networks.

    Reply
    • Like everything else, you have to manage the technology and not let the technology manage you. I think celebrities and famous people, etc... have to be aware regardless of whether they are using it or not. Case in point: Lady Gaga may not be on Foursquare, but if the person sitting a the table next to her is, and checks-in with the message, "at The Vine and Lady Gaga is sitting at the table next to me," there's nothing anybody can do about that. Remember, everything you say and do is being recorded. Welcome to The Trueman Show.

      Reply
  • Posted by Scott Gould
    Mitch Joel

    The reason why I don't use location-based stuff is because it takes so long to do it, with very little interaction value that comes back from it.

    A tweet can expect responses - but checking in - I often find there's no relational value.

    Reply
    • While some of the newer technologies have more friction than others, the people I know who are super-engaged with platforms like Foursquare simply love it. They're meeting new people, getting tons of insider information, and think it's even more simple to use and navigate than Twitter is.

      Reply
    • Mitch Joel

      I agree with Scott about it being a pain to do and without much benefit. In my opinion it has less to do with the creepiness of people being afraid to share their location and it being more about not being enough of a reward for having to check in. For me it has to do with battery life too. If I keep location services running on the phone it drains my old battery on my iphone 3G. So to check into foursquare I have to turn it on first, which is another pain. I would prefer some kind of auto checkin and preauthorizing places that I allow to check me in.

      Reply
      • I thought it was a pain as well until Julien Smith showed me how stupid-simple it was.

        I think the more people who use it and contribute to it, the more useful it becomes (think Wikipedia).

        As for the battery life, that's a new thought... My guess is you can check-in and logout without it sucking too much battery life? I don't think that I've seen that as a complaint against platforms like Foursquare before (but I could be wrong).

        Reply
  • Posted by Daemon
    Mitch Joel

    There is one simple reason more: there is no benefit for me as a user to report my location to 4SQ or Gowalla.

    Let's say that you are an early adopter and install that new fancy software. You go to your bar, and you check in. Seems like fun first few times. And then what? Why would I keep doing that since there is no real benefit in it for me. Twitter has benefit - fast communication. Facebook has benefit - sharing with friends. Location based services do not answer the simple question: what's in it for me.

    Some pubs are giving free coffee when you check in 10th time, yes, but there is far too little places and far too little circumstances to reward the user for what they are doing.

    In my opinion, this lack of benefit is the key to slow or even stagnant location based projects. The privacy is not so much - people share far more private data on Twitter, Twitpic and Facebook than one check-in to a pub is.

    Reply
    • The network is a strong as the network is. Facebook and Twitter just seem more useful because now there are more people on it. As more information and people connect to it, the more useful it is/will become. I think you would be amazed to see how much Foursquare and Gowalla have grown up. Remember, Facebook must have been pretty lame when there was only a couple thousand people on it. Same with YouTube and anything else.

      Reply
      • Posted by Daemon
        Mitch Joel

        Then make a mental experiment and think what would happen if everyone you know would use 4SQ.

        You come into shoe store, and you check in.

        What benefit is there in it for you?

        What benefit is there for all of your friends?

        Spoiler alert: there is no benefit for you to do that check in.

        Reply
        • Perhaps the benefit isn't in checking in to see which friends are there or if you're mayor. Perhaps the benefit is in finding out that there's a great burger joint right around the corner that someone you trust has flagged, or that an event is happening right around the corner that may be of interest to you? I'm thinking less of the gaming and friending aspect and more about the crowdsourced value of real and human information and knowledge sharing.

          Reply
  • Posted by Dan Bond
    Mitch Joel

    I just cant see the benefits to individuals of this. Why would you want people to know where you are all the time? I cant see the majority of consumers coming round to this at any point.

    This is something that marketers have been trumpeting because they could use it to sell to consumers, but its not consumers responsibility to do things marketers want. Back in your box and come back when you've thought about consumers more...

    Reply
    • Because it's not just about that Dan. This is one of those instances where "playing with it" really helps highlight the value of it. It's not just about checking in and letting others know your whereabouts. Play with it a little and let me know if your opinion changes... and remember, people said the exact same thing about Twitter (and everything else new).

      Reply
  • Posted by Venkat Mani
    Mitch Joel

    My thoughts are somewhat similar and i had written about location based services facing this issue in the retail segment http://thetechstig.com/?p=26

    Reply
    • I agree with a lot of your sentiments, but I do think retail (both big and small) can really do something with location beyond coupons and rebate. From information to providing value, etc... This is just the beginning.

      Reply
  • After seeing the intro to 4sq on Tech Crunch what seems like years ago now, I couldn't wait to load it onto my iPhone. Every time I checked in somewhere, my friends (mostly tech savvy folk) rolled their eyes at me and said they couldn't understand the point of it all. I responded, you just wait and see - it won't be long before I'm getting real rewards with this.

    Now... not so much of a cool feeling. Since it really took of in Montreal I just got creeped out. When I get a message that I've been ousted as Mayor somewhere, I sigh. It's the just too invasive and the stalker-like feeling (following & being followed so closely) just became too much. Sure I might feel tempted to let everyone know that I'm at the ever so cool Ivy, sitting next to Lady Gaga for the cool factor. But when I'm around my home, with my family the need to connect like that just fades away behind the need to feel secure.

    Strangely, enough so much of what once was the Internet was built on anonymity. Not that I think we should go back to the days of freakish usernames all over the place, but at the same time, putting some distance between the far too many unknowns out there and my real life and family just makes good sense.

    I still check in at certain places because I expect at some point my loyalty to the merchant might pay off - after all, if I'm in their shop, they know I'm physically there. But I'm not sharing that info on Twitter for sure & I've cut back the number of friends that I have on foursquare.

    Reply
    • You are finding the healthy balance. I don't think any of these platforms should take over our lives. It's all about finding the healthy (and appropriate) mix.

      Reply
    • Posted by Daemon
      Mitch Joel

      And after a while, when you see that the owner/manager of that shop could not are less if you are Mayor of their store, you will stop checking in even to those favorite places. I have been down that same road already - first check in everywhere, even bus stations, then check in only to "big" places, then just stop doing it.

      Reply
      • Isn't that like the "good old days" when people would Blog about a brand and not get any response? Look how that evolved. It's still early days. So no, the florist on the corner may not care less that you are the mayor of their store, but soon enough someone may introduce that florist to location-aware services and it could well become a game-changer.

        Reply
  • Posted by Patrick Garmoe
    Mitch Joel

    Hello Mitch

    Just yesterday I was telling a friend that for the first two months of using Four Square it felt like a pointless bother. But then I started connecting it with my Twitter account to couple location with tweets about where I was; started checking in on and off the grid, depending how "safe" I felt about people knowing where I was; and started getting into the gaming aspects of this. Now I'm completely hooked. I think for most people the interest curve would be even longer.

    I think what you're referring to here is simply that it takes a long exposure period for people to get into this. And there's a natural "pointlessness" factor to over come, especially for those of us not in big cities with dozens of friends on the site.

    I'd love to see two graphs, one measuring Twitter use and FourSquare use timelines. I'm wondering if you're overstating how quickly Twitter was adopted, compared with FourSquare?


    I sort of laugh when you urge the industry though, not to botch this opportunity. Isn't that like asking all Democrats or Republicans to all agree on the same set of principles and move in the same direction? Feels a bit Pollyanish.

    Reply
    • Someone has to stand-up for the Marketing industry and someone has to urge it to consider the value in really working with it instead of against it. I'm fine with being called Pollyanish... that's pretty much my game anyway ;)

      Reply
  • Posted by Eric Pratum
    Mitch Joel

    Marketers can generally argue that location-aware services make it easier to provide relevant, "valuable" ads to people. I mean, I argued in a post not too long ago on Grizzard.com that there could potentially be a day when ads at the local bus stop change based on an aggregation of the top topics tweeted about by the people that have checked in there most recently.

    The problem that I often encounter with this argument though is that the average consumer claims to want no ads. When you ask someone whether they want more or less ads, they say "none." Yet, we know that's not true because we see commercials (think Old Spice) on YouTube getting millions of views.

    If marketers can be smart and put the power of decision in the hands of the consumer, we will have a much better chance of people accepting our use of location-aware services as a method of approaching them. Much like how Facebook bungled the privacy issue by giving users controls that were too confusing, marketers will have a problem if the most novice user cannot quickly and easily understand how to opt in or opt out & what the consequences of that decision will be.

    Unrelated...Mitch, looks like you've been much more active in the comments. Hopefully, it's proving beneficial for you and the blog.

    Reply
    • I think people don't like bad advertising but they love great advertising. I also would not confuse great marketing with advertising. These location-aware platforms are probably best served as a marketing channel vs. an advertising one.

      As for playing the comments on this Blog, I am really just starting to see if this is something that affects the content I am creating and how it pushes me to think differently and express something beyond the initial Blog post. As long as it's a healthy conversation, I am happy to continue the dialogue.... but thanks for noticing Eric ;)

      Reply
      • Posted by Eric Pratum
        Mitch Joel

        Good point about marketing vs advertising. I got into my comment and didn't even notice that I was using the word advertising to refer to both advertising and marketing. Clearly, the distinction must be made. Otherwise, progress on this issue would be difficult.

        Reply
  • Posted by Warren
    Mitch Joel

    Hi Joel,
    I love reading your blogs and sharing you knowledge with my community.
    Location based apps have become an important part of how I share information and, has been the catalyst to meeting new people and getting new business.
    Once again thank you for being you.
    Warren

    Reply
  • Posted by Danny D
    Mitch Joel

    Location based for me needs to evolve and become something that people actually use for a purpose. Currently becoming Mayor of Starbucks close to your work is kinda lame to me!
    Shops need to have some fun with products and location based services, make it interactive and actually reward shoppers

    Reply
    • Again, I think the gaming and social networking aspects pale in comparison with the rich information everyone is adding to the specific locations. I believe that is where the gold/opportunity lies. Also remember, it took a lot of time for Twitter to evolve from what it was created for to what it is.

      Reply
  • Mitch you always have very thoughtful issues to discuss.

    I am in the Mobile Marketing realm. Social is converging with me. I feel anything that is respectful and opt-in is a winner. Its the push advertising that makes things spam. And I am fighting against this. Even my mobile technology 2-D bar code vendor posted something on their website that is not true. That people are giving Brands 24/7 access to their phones and know they are giving their phone number to Brands for this when the opt-in for future contact.

    I use email as an example. When I sign up for email contact that is opt-in. After that every email I get is push advertising. I might of asked for it. But once you sign up for enough emails it all becomes spam. Same will happen with Geo-Fences, and anything that alerts Brands/Businesses you are nearby and enable them to send you an ad or offer.

    Imagine driving by the mall with no intent to go inside and your phone starts buzzing from 15 offers because you signed up for the Geo-fence Technology. Or you got gas across the street and checked in on FourSquare and then got bombarded by offers.

    My take is to condition people to opt-in in simple and elegant ways. Where they can say 'I am here' but control what they receive and from who.

    And no worries. Its going to be blown. Lots of seedy spammers who can care less if they ruin the space. But just like FireFox enables me to see zero digital ads, block all ad networks, and even block Google Paid Search Results. Hopefully there will be tools like this for the mobile space.

    Reply
    • We have to hope that we can transcend these issues by empowering consumers to choose. I like the fact that you can turn notifications off and that you can use location-aware on an on-demand type of way. That could be its salvation.

      Reply
  • Posted by Emiel Sondag
    Mitch Joel

    I've had this discussion with a lot of people. Most of them make the remark "Why would someone care where I am", similar to the objections they have had when Twitter wasn't mainstream. "Why?". From the consumer standpoint this is a very important question to answer. Then there is also the privacy issue and even the level of engagement you seem to need to delve yourself into these new platforms.

    My thoughts on this are as follows, in an earlier blog Mitch you asked the question if individuals wanted a relationship with a brand. (see: http://www.twistimage.com/blog/archives/money-for-nothing-and-your-clicks-for-free/) In my opinion we, the consumer do but also for the reason that a brand allows you to express your individuality and identity. Why I use Gowalla? It might be for a similar reason. I want people to see that I am at a conference. At a big company for a meetup or for a appointment for consultancy. It builds my personal brand and on some level it also tells people what companies I am dealing with. I want to be associated with neat stuff.

    Next to that I use it with some of my friends to keep updated on what they are doing. When I see a close friend checking in at his university to hand in his final version of his thesis, I wish him the best of luck through Gowalla (because who remembers to do that?). When they are near me in a pub, I can join them for a quick pint.

    Also, services like Yelp, Foursquare and Gowalla help me find places to go. I booked by vacation through the US around a couple of Gowalla trips. Yelp will help me find places to eat, by seeing what to get from where and not unimportant, what the masses thought of the places. And both Foursquare and Gowalla might tell me what places are hot to go out.

    I think we need to progress with the web and location is, and many agree, the next step. Even though the users (especially users of Gowalla here in The Netherlands) are slim, there is conversation happening here. Foursquare and Gowalla are not facebook or Google. They don't carry the same 'trustworthiness' as them. What I mean by this is, I wonder what the masses will do when suddenly 500 million (!) people are enabled to use location services, since Zuckerberg openly said they are rolling this feature out soon. Will we then collectively be convinced?

    That also makes me wonder why Google abandoned Dodgeball (former Foursquare, hence the Foursquare logo), and why Latitude never took hold. Google did have some trust issues, and maybe the trust issues concerning privacy will overshadow the launch of location services on Facebook as well.

    Reply
    • It also has a lot to do with timing (and a bit of luck). Some things hit too early and others lose because of execution and focus. The timing is also ripe as we continue to untether more and more. It's also good timing because let's face it: these are not phones... these are real computers.

      Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    It depends on what people can get out of it.

    Personally, it wasnt a matter of "who cares" as much as it was the feeling that I was being rude for telling everybody where I was. It borders on obnoxious to me when people check in at every single location.

    Gowalla is interesting because their "leaving things" concept can really catch fire if show tickets, free items, gift cards, bus passes etc. start being left in stores by merchants. It gives people an incentive to broadcast their location. That being said, I think once geolocation really sets it, people will only broadcast the locations they feel are "worth broadcasting".

    Reply
    • But you're telling everybody (are you?). You can manage where your notifications go and - in it's purest form - you are letting people who have requested to know to be informed. You don't have to publish your stuff to Twitter and Facebook (that's a choice). You may also notice that by doing so, it's not only interesting but it engages others to try it out. As Seth Godin loves to say, "your mileage may vary".

      Reply
      • Mitch Joel

        I stopped publishing to Facebook and Twitter because I felt it was rude.

        Foursquare is there because like-minded geolocaters want to know where you are too, so I can see how the feeling is different.

        Mitch, do you think the marketers who abuse geolocation would ruin it for everyone or just themselves?

        Reply
  • Posted by Ralph Mercer
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,
    I think location advertising needs to be very careful, if the experience of using geo-location apps become cluttered with buy me adds, people will leave in droves. I've already noticed I resent the Lulu lemon ads that popup on 4square when I'm in downtown Kingston On. For me to ever use a geo location app that pushes ads, the who, what and how many, have to be controlled by me, even to the point of opting out of all. Maybe it's time for consumers to realize that they are a scarce resource and start to lever their "eyes" making the advertiser pay to access them : )

    Reply
  • Posted by Jeremy Victor
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    Here's a quote from a post I wrote earlier this week:

    Similar to Twitter, it is not until you break through the initial “idiocy” of Foursquare that you realize the power it has to extend the way businesses market themselves and connect with consumers.

    ----

    While it is a *now* thing i.e Foursquare has 60 million checkins in just the last two months, it requires futuristic "jetson's-like" thinking from a marketing perspective.

    I believe we are all in the process of learning the application and usefulness of it - both marketers and consumers. Same can be said of the iPad when it first came out. Think about how your perception of it has changed in just over two months.

    Again we are just at the beginning.

    Fear of privacy and "big brother like" will be overcome by checking in at one restaurant and learning that the restaurant two blocks doors down has $1 drafts for the night with a check in. Imagine with Groupon and Foursquare hook-up.

    I say give it time and as marketers, we should just THINK BIGGER.

    Reply
  • Posted by Pierre Lambertq
    Mitch Joel

    I think it is not that important for 4SQ to grow as big as Twitter or any other social network.

    They are creating a huge database of locations. A database that even the Yellow Pages cannot compete with. To me, they might be as disruptive to the Yellow Pages and other directories as Skype was to the phone business.

    Even if you have the smallest mom & pop shop, you're probably in the 4SQ database, Even if you never connected to the internet, your business is probably in the 4SQ database.

    That means a lot.

    That means that you can now create a whole world of location-based services. This can go from simple Yelp-like applications to touristic guides to whatever your imagination can create.

    Future of location-based services will be grateful of all those badges-hunter that are using 4SQ now and creating that huge database.

    Reply
    • ...and let's face it, when you are looking for a florist, odds are you are looking for one that's closest to you, so that information is true power. Trust me, companies like Yellow Pages are paying close attention to all of this. The question is: what will they do with it?

      Reply
  • Posted by Kyle Lacy
    Mitch Joel

    I think the issues addressed here will either be fixed or will go to the wayside. Foursquare and other similar applications are in there infancy when it comes to mainstream users. Yes, there are kinks to work out and issues to deal with. It's nice that Foursquare allows you to opt-in or out without assuming what you'd want plus you don't have to share your info with everyone. It gives you choices. So use your own discernment. I'm sure people will start yielding tangible results once more companies start to really engage with Foursquare.

    Reply
  • Posted by Josh Kowaleski
    Mitch Joel

    Like many cultural aspects of our society, the attitudes on privacy seem to swing back and forth like a pendulum. When I talk to my elderly grandparents about their social lives they mention how everyone in their small towns would know intimate details about each other, and casual socializing was an important aspect of their lives. However when my parents reached adulthood there was a backlash against the openness of the communities of their youth and a culture of keeping your kids indoors, being suspicious of other members of the community, and generally keeping to yourself began to take hold.

    I think the popularity of emerging social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare points to a backlash against the views of our parent's generation. They told us social was scary, but now that we're adults who are starting to define ourselves we've begun to question those beliefs. This movement is still scary for us though, and the privacy concerns that our parents have ingrained in us has led to the development of an mechanism in our minds that automatically judges every new social technology as "creepy".

    I'm personally really excited to see where this new generation of openness will take us. It could potentially hold huge benefits for small businesses and communities - we've even started to witness some of these benefits already.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jill
    Jill

    I think aside from the security/privacy issue, lots of people still don't see the benefits and advantages of using platforms like Foursquare. I'll admit, not too long ago I looked down upon these types of sites and thought they were just a waste of time. But the more I researched and looked into them, the more I realized how much of an advantage they can be to businesses and consumers alike.

    Foursquare gives consumers opportunities for discounts, special offers and rewards for frequenting a place of business, and it of course generates more business for the restaurant, coffee shop, retailer or what have you. It's not all about the badge-getting (which is not to say badges aren't an incentive for people to keep visiting places) and there are actual tangible benefits to these platforms. They aren't just time-wasting online games, which is how I think many people still view them.

    Reply
  • Posted by karim kanji
    Mitch Joel

    Interesting that you and Chris Brogan talk about this same topic on the same day. Does this mean that you recorded another Media Hacks episode and that Brogan is on it? (one can only hope!)

    Chris talked about not using these tools because he could not see the business application in it for him.

    You talk about these geo-location tools not growing as fast as other social media tools.

    Could Chris be right?

    Is this a symptom of a bigger issue? Are things like social gifts (badges, etc) not really worth anything anymore? I remember people talking about these virtual gifts and how popular and profitable they were.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • For the record my Blog post was published yesterday, which means Brogan (continues) to steal Blog post ideas from me... I knew it!!! ;)

      All kidding aside, I do think there are significant opportunities here for both Marketers and Businesses? The trick is in sticking with it long enough to figure it out. I can see why an individual (like Chris) would shy away from it. The guy has over 100,000 followers on Twitter, and people are constantly knocking him up for free advice, so adding to that clutter could be an issue. That being said, these platforms are still highly valuable in terms of how they are mixing online social networking, social media, mobile and gaming.

      It is, as they say, "interesting times."

      Reply
  • Posted by Ron De Giusti
    Mitch Joel

    I would love to see companies like FourSquare and Gowalla offering their applications for private use by companies and governments.

    Wouldn't it be neat to see a government perform a local census using FourSquare? I could see a country like Austria or Switzerland doing this and having it actually work.

    And could you imagine a local taxi company using their own private install of FourSquare or Gowalla to allow for taxi driver check-ins?

    So many of the "new media - social media" companies are looking for ways to monetize and the immediate answer, to me, seems obvious. Simply offer your application for a private install within other companies ... but would that give away their intellectual property? I doubt it.

    Reply
  • Posted by Kneale Mann
    Mitch Joel

    The last time I checked, I lived in a part of the world where my choice was mine and I was given the freedom to decide now or later or never if I wanted to embrace something new. I think this may be one of those times. But that doesn't mean it's wrong or ahead of its time or weird, I have simply exercised my right.

    As Liz Strauss says, you can be transparent without being naked. In my case, I choose not to report to anyone who cares to read it where I am at any given moment. But I may choose to change that view some day. I may suggest to clients that embracing location social media. But if you choose to use it now, cool, that's your call and not for me to dispute.

    Reply
    • I was interviewed today on Global National about Facebook reaching 500 million users. The reporter said to me that he "resisted Facebook as long as he could." So, while we can all ignore this, I don't think it is going away and I do think it is continually becoming an ever-more important part of our day-to-day lives. So yes, we have freedom to choose, but we do have to choose something.

      Reply
  • Posted by Alan
    Mitch Joel

    It's difficult to add something on top of what's been said, so I'll be brief. @Daemon: the 'value' of checking into a shoe store is looking at the tips or notes. If I read "stay away from salesman Jim' or "mention special coupon code SPOS for 20% off", how is that any different than chatting with folks in the supermarket checkout lane? It's info, it's from people you quasi-know, it's local.

    WRT to Chris and Mitch (seemingly?) having differing opinions, (IMO) you are both right. There's no value in checking in at a toll plaza on your commute (seriously - some people I know do this). But there is value in checking in at a hotel before a conference. Chris: Julien has talked about this in the past, on a MediaHacks ep. Maybe you should listen in. ;)

    Lastly, I write at length here, b/c I've written at length in the past (more than a year ago) about this, as I was crossing the finish line for my (US-based construct) MBA. If you're having trouble sleeping, you can read more here: http://www.subjectivelyspeaking.net/2010/03/15/i-know-where-you-are/

    Reply
  • Posted by Joel Hughes
    Mitch Joel

    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing.

    Your article seems to be based on the single concept that people who use these services have to share their location with the whole wide world.

    This is completely false.

    Foursquare (and other services) and a tight set of privacy controls which can mean than your location is not broadcast anywhere (save perhaps aggregated data).

    Indeed I would expect such privacy controls to become more fine grained over time.

    People will use these services if the offering is strong enough - eg I buy coffee from Starbucks...so why not have a free coffee (existing 'stamp a car' systems are primitive by comparison)

    Furthermore I would envisage systems where you can automatically checkin (when you have allowed it to happen) to make the whole process more smoother.

    Joel

    Reply
    • As discussed, I'm well aware that you can use Foursquare without broadcasting your location, but that's sort of like having a bicycle without wheels. The main point of these location-aware platforms (currently) is to broadcast where you are, so that you can connect with those in proximity to you. It's like joining Facebook but locking down everything so nobody can see anything: it can de done, but it won't make for the optimal experience.

      Reply
  • Posted by Tyler Hurst
    Mitch Joel

    I used to use Foursquare and Gowalla, and quit because they just weren't interesting. Badges were fun, tips were cool, but the novelty wore off. I get WHY people use them, just don't like it for myself.

    The absolute biggest reason more people don't use location-based services is simple. Their lives are BORING. While most of the people who use social media live like rock gods and movie stars, while seemingly making no real money, and are able to interest people with who they are and where they are going, the average guy or girl either doesn't do anything interesting or does know anything interesting. The more they expose themselves to unknown other people, the bigger chance people will find this out.

    Reply
    • ...we do love to creep on other people, don't we? We're consumed with what others are doing - from the famous to the not-so-famous to those we would never even call a friend. Human nature can be so strange.

      Reply
  • Posted by Mark W Schaefer
    Mitch Joel

    I just discovered a reason why people don;t leave comments. When there are so many other comments, you don't have tme to read them all and don;t want to look stupid by saying the same thing. Hey, it's great to have an active community.

    I recently did a Foursquare experiment in a village, a city and a metropoils (NYC) and wrote about the experience here: http://bit.ly/aCqVvJ

    Bottom line, although there are obvious benefits for businesses, there is little for consumers, at least so far. And in some cases, it's even annoying.

    Thank Mitch.

    Reply
    • It's still early days for these platforms, Mark. People said the exact same thing about everything from having Internet connectivity to Twitter, Facebook and everything in between.

      As for the comments, it's about adding diversity and different voices. I say, the more the merrier because this makes some Blogs have content that is worth more deep-diving into rather than skimming across the top of it.

      Reply
  • Excellent new report via Forrester about location: http://www.mediapost.com/blogs/raw/?p=3426

    Reply
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