Checking out who is checking in on location based social networks

By: Jack Winston

In our last post, we explored the reasons real world marketers have embraced social media and location based services for their real world businesses.  Maybe the more important question is why do, or why should, or why will consumers “check-in” or “Like” or engage with businesses while on location?  There have been several interesting surveys published over the past few months that bring some perspective.  While these surveys all used different samples and different methodologies, the composite paints an interesting picture.

63 Million smart phone users in US – growing at 15% annually
(source: comScore)

Everyone will have one – it is inevitable.  The Wall Street Journal reported a low cost version of the iPhone is set for this summer.  Sub-$100 versions of Android based phones are projected to follow.

44% use phone to locate stores (source: etailer)
31% use phone to access in-store coupons (source: etailer)
100M mobile facebook users globally (source: facebook)

These stats profile the audience that is most likely to engage with on-location social networking or location based services.  While current check-in participation may be low, these are the people that will participate with the right incentives.

18% of smart phone users check-in on LBS; 82% do not
(source: Whitehorse)

Why don’t they check in?

43% of those not checking in cite no interest or they feel it is redundant to other social networks they participate in.  These individuals are not seeing enough value in checking in.  Those citing privacy could potentially be convinced if 1) they were educated on how to protect from other users tracking them and 2) they were given something of value from businesses they were giving their data to.
(source: Whitehorse)

Why do they check in?

People primarily check in to get discounts – which is interesting given most real-world businesses do not yet offer discounts or other incentives for participation.
(source: SocialLoco Conference 2011)

Where do they check in?

People check in at real world locations where they:

  • spend time
  • spend money
  • have choices
  • tend to develop loyalty for

(source: SocialLoco Conference 2011)

How do they check in?

Facebook is the clear leader here – which is not surprising given the 100M mobile facebook users.  With 600M global facebook users, they will likely continue to be a dominant presence in check-ins and on location social networks .  Groupon’s recent pilot launch of GrouponNow is one to watch.
(source: SocialLoco Conference 2011)

When do they check in?

Less than half of those checking in do so regularly.  Notably, there is a huge discrepancy in “Why” people like to check-in (54% want discounts) and “When” (only 7% when discounts are available).  While the “Why” and the “When” were from different surveys, this discrepancy relates to the fact that consumers would check in more if there was something valuable offered in exchange.  Back to the concerns on privacy, B2C marketers have long known that consumers will give up some level of personal information in exchange for something valuable.  Incentives to join mailing lists, provide phone numbers, or participate in surveys have been a standard component of promotions based marketing for many years.  The same is – and will be true – for on location social media / location based marketing.  There is value in getting data on your consumers.  You need to give them something valuable in return for giving it to you.
(source: Location Based Marketing Association)

Full disclosure: this mashup of data epitomizes the phrase, “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.”  Being such a fast moving phenomenon, there is no single source of information on what is happening in the location based social networking space – but all of these surveys were published in the last few months.  The good news is the stats support our basic gut check that consumers will increasingly check-in (or participate in location based social networking in some way) as businesses offer them better incentives.  With savvy smartphone users becoming the standard consumer profile in the US (and even more so globally), the potential for widespread participation in location-based social network marketing programs is huge if businesses can find the right way to provide incentives.

Bozuko is focused on developing tools for businesses to offer their customers the right kind of incentives in return for participating in on-location social media.  We look forward to telling you more about what we can do for your business in the near future.

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