Start Up Blog

Why geolocating is huge

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on March 22, 2011

Geo locating is getting big. Real big. Let’s take Four Square as an example; last year over 6 million people checked into over 380 million retail locations. Something is really happening here, yet the doubters are strong with their voices of incredulousness. They can’t understand why anyone cares where they are, or why they’d want to share such personal information publicly, or with their on-line friends.  Rather than argue, I thought it was worth posing some of the human reasons why geolocating might be so appealing, an anthropological journey if you like.

The web wants to replicate life – Because it is a form of life. It loves to get physical, real and human… because it’s made by humans for humans.

The 3 ‘human’ reasons why geo-locating will only get bigger are:

1. Who’s here?

People want to see who else is where they are. Are their friends here to? it’s a great way for us to cross the virtual chasm into a physical reality.

2. My life is cool – I’m cool.

See how cool I am being at this particular place. it’s so cool you don’t even know where it is, and here I am…. proven via my smart phone GPS. I’m so cool, I’m teaching you the cool places to be. And I’m showing you how mobile I am and all the cool places to go to – like SXSW.

3. Reward me.

Heck, If I’m going to get a takeaway coffee everyday, I might as well go to the place that gives their Four Square mayor a free espresso on Friday or rewards you after X check ins. You want me to be loyal? You better reward me.

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I feel like we are only just starting to see the potential of geo-locating in terms of startup and marketing. It really does feel like the missing link between the virtual and the physical. And for those who are concerned about privacy, like all technology, our choice is a simple one:

Embrace it, or miss out on the benefits.

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4 Responses

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  1. Mildlycurious said, on March 28, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    From the foursquare and Facebook checkin updates I have seen, I would say #2 rings true the most. I am yet to read of someone being in somewhere uncool…eg XX is the mayor of Dr Proctologist.

  2. Leon Sammartino said, on March 31, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I have to agree that the reason anyone does this is to prove how much cooler they are than everyone else. (Which is the reason everyone does everything, whether they like to admit or not)

    This leads to two questions however:

    Is it only ever going to be important for the type of consumers who like to ‘show off’ and thus brands which as ‘show-off’ brands.

    Is there a potential for backlash here. The simple fact that you like to see yourself as a a leader does that mean that as soon as the masses catch up on it it loses it’s cache. Similarly, if everyone starts checking in a Cafe X does Cafe X start losing it’s cool.

    And third question – If there is a backlash against the ‘check-iners’ as I suspect there might be, could people checking-in to your business actually encourage other ‘non check-iners’ from coming in. (I know excessive checing-in has made me de-friend people on facebook, could the same be cool for businesses?)

    And yes I know that’s three questions, but I like to under promise and over deliver. Oh and let’s get those numbers in prespective – 6 million (I’m assuming worldwide) people ain’t that much, really.

    • Steve Sammartino said, on March 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

      Most people I talk to about it agree with you – and feel that the ‘check-iners’ want to be seen as having ‘the awesome life’….

      But I check-in, but have turned off the sharing function so I don’t spamify peoples feeds. I’m interested in reason 3. In my view reason 3 is the only ‘sustainable’ strategy behind geolocating.

      One thing – I’d say 6 million is a lot of people in 1 year… especially given only about 5% of the world population have access to smart phones capable of this type of activity…..

      Steve.


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