Before we get started, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what exactly IS a location-based service. Wikipedia’s definition is: Location-Based Service (LBS) is an information or entertainment service, accessible with mobile devices through the mobile network and utilizing the ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device. Put more simply, a location-based service identifies your small business geographically to customers using certain mobile apps on their smartphones.
Location-based services center around a CHECK-IN. When people they arrive at a location, they CHECK-IN using an app for that service on their smartphone. The app uses the phone’s GPS to determine where the user is and then presents a choice of venues available to check-in that are nearby.
One of the questions those uninitiated to using such services might ask is… WHY? Why would someone voluntarily disclose their movements and precise location to the world? GOOD QUESTION! Many times someone will share “going out to dinner with the fam” to Facebook and Twitter only to be pelted by “where are you going” or “you ought to try this place”. Location-based services simply make this simple and more convenient to share with your network.
For users, this also expands their social networking as this is yet another community to join and build relationships. Often perks will be given for checking in such as points and users will compete for most check-ins in a specified period of time or who has checked-in at a specific venue the most times. Foursquare, for example, then gives you the title of “Mayor”. Oh it gets better! Then you want to see HOW MANY places in town YOU can become Mayor of!
Oh okay, it might sound silly to you but location-based services are now part of the social networking fabric and are here to stay so you, as a small business owner, need to understand and learn how to play together in this sandbox.
In my next post, I will identify the the key location-based services that small business owners need to know about and talk about how to take advantage of each one’s unique capabilities.