You should know “lo-so”

Oh foursquare, we meet again.  The first time was on the black-top at recess in the early 90’s.  These days, you are Foursquare (capital “F”) and I can’t help but read about you every where I turn on the Internet.  Foursquare, and other location-based social (lo-so) networks like it, are all the rage these days and all the experts are saying we should all start paying attention.

Foursquare, which was launched at last year’s SXSW, now has over 500,000 users who use the service to “check-in” at various locations in order to earn badges and bragging rights as the “mayor” of that particular place.  The more a user checks-in, the more badges they acquire and the closer they become to the coveted mayor title.  I use Foursquare every once in a while and currently hold the prestigious badge of Newbie that everyone gets when you check-in once (congrats to me).  Chris Abraham, however, holds a number of badges including Superstar (for checking-in at over 50 places), Super Mayor (for being mayor of more than 10 places) and my personal favorite, Overshare (for 10+ check-ins in less than 12 hours).

But even as a lowly Newbie in the Foursquare realm I have to agree with the experts here, and say that Foursquare and other location-based social networks present some pretty cool marketing opportunities for businesses in the form of mobile coupons and real-time promotional offers. An article on Mashable says location-based social networking  allows for a real world connection to social media that could mean more foot traffic and profits for business owners. Well that sounds pretty good.  But my question is: are any businesses actually taking advantage of these opportunities and if so, who is doing it well?

As is the case with any new and shiny social media “toy,” all the experts and gurus seem to agree that lo-so (all the gurus call it that) networks are a hot topic right now, but which businesses are heeding all this advice and implementing strategies that are working?  Granted I am a self-proclaimed Newbie, but all I’ve really heard is that Starbucks may use Foursquare to start giving out mobile coupons, for photo sharing and to build online reputation scores.  But that’s just the “coming soon” phase.

Do you agree that location-based social networks present some interesting marketing opportunities?  Which companies have you read about (or actually experienced) using Foursquare creatively?

(and yes this post is green on purpose.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

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