Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Adventures in Location-Based Marketing

It feels like I have been stuck in constant "so cool!" mode lately when it comes to all the new location-based apps and programs that are being released. Lead by pioneer Foursquare, which recently announced that it could boast of 10,000,000 members, new location-based services are popping up all over.

Pictured: Happiness on Foursquare. Part of this amazing infographic.


I participated in #CMGRchat recently via our @Community20 twitter account wherein the topic of discussion was "how to take your online community offline" and location-based services seem like one way to get moving towards that goal. With that in mind, I decided to take a look at some recent developments in location-based technologies.

Some, like the very promising Sonar app, actually build on top of Foursquare to help bring connections to real life. Sonar allows you to connect in real time with those that are nearby based on social media connections or mutual interests. (I'd love to see this particular app put to use at an upcoming #SocialC20 event as it becomes more developed).

Another interesting development is the integration of location-based data with photography. Starting with applications like Color and Instagram a host of possibilities has opened up regarding how photography can be shared. This week I came across two such examples. One, Instaprint, is a photobooth that combines Instagram with a localized hashtag to print Polaroid-like photos. Talk about taking the online offline, this is a perfect example of a fun, ice-breaking activity for a meet-up. Another example is this case study of the Great Wolf Lodge chain of waterpark resorts.The resorts use RFID wristbands to allow visitors to share vacation photos directly to their Facebook walls. This struck me as a really innovative way to create instant brand evangelists.

One more trend I have noticed is that of location-based technology blending with social games. The U.S. premiere of Shadow Cities seems to be setting the game up to become the next "Angry Birds"-style must-have application. (And in fact, Angry Birds itself is set to launch location-based options according to this Mashable op-ed on Location-Based Gaming .) Using GPS and augmented reality, these applications have the ability to fundamentally change the way we interact with the world around us. How cool is that?

What location based applications have you been checking out lately? Where do you see this technology heading? Share with us in the comments, or let me know on twitter @Community20.

Michelle LeBlanc is a Social Media Strategist at IIR USA with a specialization in marketing. She may be reached at mleblanc@iirusa.com.

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