Your customers are on the go, and nowadays their whereabouts are your business. Mobile location applications, aka check-in apps or geosocial media apps, help friends find who's hanging out where. But the apps, including Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places and Google Latitude, are also powerful tools that allow businesses to connect with customers and craft special deals tied to social media interactions.
The challenge? Figuring out which check-in apps customers are using. Though Foursquare emerged as the early app of choice, it's still too early in the geosocial media game to favor one and ignore the rest. That could leave businesses in the unfortunate position of having to spend time and resources developing separate marketing campaigns for each of the check-in apps, and then trying to track the effectiveness of each one separately.
Enter Geotoko, a marketing tool that helps businesses find out who has checked in at their locations. The company was founded by a group of friends attending the 2010 SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas. They recognized what the surging appeal of the location apps could do for merchants who had an analytical grip on the check-in activity on their premises.
As with all great ideas, cocktails were involved. "You could see on Foursquare which bars everyone was going to that week, so you could tell where the best time was going to be, and you could see people moving from one bar to the next, so you knew where your friends were going to be," says Adarsh Pallian, co-founder and CEO of Geotoko. "We wanted to build a platform that wasn't just limited to Foursquare, where you could connect and set up a promotional campaign that worked across all of these apps."
For $10 a day, plus a one-time setup fee, Geotoko offers small businesses the ability to create a campaign, choose locations affected, publish the campaign on the check-in app and monitor daily check-ins, check-in times and other stats. It also offers infographics, including heat maps, to businesses with multiple locations, which make it easier to determine where campaigns are having the most impact. "We figured that if we were going to allow people to set up these campaigns across platforms," Pallian says, "it made sense to show them how well they worked."
Dan O'Shea is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering telecom, mobile and other high-tech topics for nearly 20 years.