Location Based Social Media – Coming To A Town Near You

Location-based Social Media

2010 is definitely the year of location based social media – well overseas that is. Whilst the many sites popping up are of course a few digital years off the Facebook and Twitter status – this new breed of social sites are set to follow in their big brothers footsteps.

So who is who in the location based zoo and what are some of the key usage statistics;

Foursquare

What is it? Foursquare allows you to share your location with friends. Users on Foursquare earn points and “badges” for checking-in frequently, or at a certain time. If you raise enough points you become “mayor” of a certain area.

Key Statistics:
Foursquare MarketingFoursquare recently hit the 1 million user mark and is currently gaining momentum. According to CEO Dennis Crowley Foursquare is adding 15,000 users per day which is 450,000 per month. Furthermore according to Crowley, Foursquare is achieving approximately 700,0000 checkins per day and by the end of June should be achieving the 1 million mark.
In March 2010, Foursquare said it had 1.4 million venues logged in its system, with 1,200 businesses offering special deals to people who check-in via Foursquare.

Foursquare Partnerships:
To gain traction in the market, Foursquare has partnered with some major brands to provide organisations a unique way to connect with their audience and to get consumers talking about the Foursquare platform. Foursquare’s partnerships include the likes of Starbucks, MTV, PepsiCo and Bravo. The press and discussion associated with these partnerships have gained considerable coverage in the market and as such other brands such as Domino’s and Jimmy Choo have begun to leverage Foursquare as part of their marketing strategy.

Gowalla

What is it? Gowalla is a location-based social networking game created by Alamofire. Gowalla allows iPhone and Andorid phone users to check-in when they arrive at a business or location. By checking in, Gowalla stamps the user’s passport and provides them with rewards.
Hmm sounds a bit like Foursquare I know.

Key Statistics:
Statistics about Gowalla are hard to come by however despite all of the hype, Gowalla’s user base is dwarfed by Foursquare and currently stands at between 200,000 – 250,000 users. Even so Gowalla only had just over 100,000 earlier in the year so whilst its numbers are small it has been increasing share rapidly.

Gowalla Partnerships
Like Foursquare Gowalla is teaming up with several brands to drive interest and growth in the platform– however it seems these partnerships are more content / travel driven then possibly Foursquare. Gowalla sees its relevance for users on the move – particularly those that are travelling. Gowalla has partnered with National Geographic & The Washington Post to deliver walking tours and traveller advice. More recently Gowalla has also teamed up with the Austin Stateman newspaper to deliver 8 trips for users. Each trip offers a detailed description, map, editorial insight and user photographs.
It is difficult to determine if Gowalla is attempting to carve a unique position in the market in the travel arena – as it has also partnered with brands such as Chevrolet. However one thing is certain with a lack of differentiation between the services, both of them will need to consider where they will focus their energy – as only 1 geo-location social network will prevail, just look at what Facebook did to MySpace.

myTown

What is it?
Whilst all of the hype and talk has largely centred around Foursquare & Gowalla, another player has emerged – myTown. myTown, is a location based game that is sort of part geolocater, and part real life Monopoly and SimCity. When you go somewhere in your real life city, you check in at that location and get points, you can purchase the virtual equivalent of that location, and when other people in your town playing the game check in there you earn rent. Unlike Foursquare and Gowalla, myTown seems to take elements of virtual worlds and combine it with geo-location social media and so it may not be seen as a direct competitor to the above players.

MyTown GeoLocator GameKey Statistics
MyTown recently passed the two million users milestone, and is adding more than 100,000 new users a week. The location based game has notched up more than 60 million check-ins, with user spending a startling 70 minutes a day playing on average. However myTown has only formally launched in the US and is still only available as an iPhone app – thus myTown is obviously showing immense growth potential. In fact by the end of 2010 myTown aims to have over 6 million users on its platform and their latest $20 million in funding may just get them there.

myTown Partnerships
myTown has recently partnered with Google to boost its location based data set. Through the Google API myTown will gain access to Google’s massive data set of over 50 million locations around the world. This will enable myTown to rapidly expand to other countries (without having to form custom partnerships with local directories).
MyTown have also partnered with several brands including H&M earlier this year to provide users with points and virtual goods for checking in at store locations.

Google Latitude

What is it?
Trying to make their name in the social space, Google too has launched its own location based service – Google Latitude. Google Latitude is however no Foursquare, Gowalla or myTown. The service tracks you constantly, so there is no “checking in” or earning prizes.

Key Statistics
Whilst Google has failed to gain traction in the desktop social media market, they feel they have a competitive advantage in this market. Google Latitude already has over 3 million people signed up and by stealing a page from Foursquare’s book, an enhanced Latitude would have a check-in feature and a bolstered location history scheme. And since nobody can match Google’s grip on map data, Latitude would automatically add locations, whereas Foursquare requires user input. However it is important to note that a quarter of Latitude users have zero friends, meaning 750,000 users are largely dormant.

Google Partnerships
In true Google style, Google has partnered with the community to ensure its location based services benefit from the best development minds in the world.
Google announced that it will be launching an API (Application Programing Interface) that will allow people to build all sorts of different applications and layers on top of the system. But Latitude’s biggest hurdle toward mass-popularity is the iPhone. Google built a Latitude app, but Apple — who essentially hates Google — rejected it from the App store.

Whilst most of the above services are yet to truly cement sizable user bases in the local Australian market, it is only a matter of time and therefore it is likely that in the next 12 months location based marketing promotions will start to pop up across the Australian digital landscape.

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