Unless you have been living in a cave (I hope you checked-in there, that would be an amusing foursquare badge…) then you would have noticed that over the last 6 months locative media is really starting to take off, and is appealing to the masses (thanks to Facebook Places giving the non tech savvy a taster) more than ever. Foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla have really started this locative social media revolution and the everyday usage of their apps is only going up.
Tie-ins with offers on these location aware social networks are bringing brands and businesses the ability to entice users with incentives through rewards that they can gain or unlock in a variety of scenarios. 'Specials' as they are known on Foursquare are completely customisable, these specials can be set to variables you decide giving the business a real ability to tailor the offers or privileges they award to the lucky user(s). So a huge variety of different ways to approach awarding customers is coming to light, and everyone is a winner. The users feel rewarded and have more incentive to go and visit the business, while the business is able to keep generating interest from audiences they wouldn't have realistically been able to reach before and also create a more personal experience for the customer. Using Foursquare as an example, it is no longer just a game to gain different badges for certain tasks or become the mayor, it is a game that allows you to gain discounts while your doing all that!
But it isn't just to gain the rewards and offers, it is also to gain information about a particular place or area. Besides from the hoard of Augmented Reality apps around at the moment that show a huge variety of POIs using various layers and plug-ins, a location aware start up that caught my eye recently is Loqize.me - a Q&A service exclusively for location-based questions (see the video above - I love the 'Home Alone' theme to the vid, genius!). It was the brainchild of swiss Philip Estrada Reichen after he moved to New York and used social media (such as his Facebook/Twitter) to ask questions about where to find everyday things (dinner, hairdressers etc). After moving to Reading for my (year in industry) placement in June last year, a service like that back them would have been brilliant! I hope this one really does well, for everyone's benefit!
Now, you can see from Groupon, that discounts or offers are no longer the boring mass email with a code in, or the card that would come through your door from a local take-away. But a social activity to get as many people as possible, not only aware of the offer, but active in ensuring the offer/discount is delivered. Groupon works by showing the offer of the day, but for this offer to actually be delivered, a certain amount of users must agree to use the offer. For example a pair of jeans has 40% off, but ONLY if 60 people agree to go through with the offer. Quite clever, and it almost brings a level of excitement (thus engagement) to whether or not the conditions of the offer will be met, so can I have a new pair of jeans for less!? As long as 59 others do…
A new app caught my eye 'junaio' (see the video guide above) that has a Valpak layer with in the mobile augmented reality browser. Despite it being a very ugly app, the idea is there. The Valpak layer helps you search for offers, shows you where they are, and lets you gain the virtual coupons. Valpak currently supplies coupons from 180 different merchants and franchises in the USA. And as they already offer coupons on the web and via mobile applications, they have connections already in place which should prove handy for the future - competing with Groupon and the such like.
All in all, it will be very interesting to see how businesses will utilise these tools over the next year, as from talking to a few businesses they are all very keen and excited to join the locative social media networks - to not only offer value through information and product discounts - but to enable them to reach new audiences.
And rightly so. Fingers crossed for more good things to come!