Location, location, location

Many people associate this phrase with how important location is to a piece of real estate. But this also could describe the next big trend in social media.

Combine the social sharing features of Facebook and Twitter with GPS enabled smartphones, witness the rapid growth of services like Foursquare and Gowalla, and it’s easy to see how this trend is going to force brick and mortar establishments to pay attention to location based social services. More recently Yelp has jumped into the action announcing their own form of location based social activity.

The common function that all of these services share is the ability for a user to “check in” when they are at a particular location. Foursquare and Gowalla are using game style features. For example, each service awards badges for various achievements such as “checking in” to a location more than anyone else, or stopping in multiple locations in a short period of time.

Why should destination businesses pay attention? If one of your core business beliefs is that your customer is central to everything you do, AND you want to create engaging meaningful relationships with your best customers, then these location based services have the potential to now give you complete insight into who those customers are and what they think of your business.

I’ve only used Foursquare so far but in my experience the potential for businesses to leverage these tools is big, particularly for early adopters who can build influence before their competitors.

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