Yesterday the location-based service foursquare (4sq) celebrated its annual foursquare day. Users across the world gathered to celebrate and shared stories about the service. The Betahaus in Hamburg also had LBS addicts invited and provided two talks by Nina Galla (Overview of various LBS, Slides here) and Lars Brücher(4sq for Businesses). The Medienlotse is a keen user to and in this article summarizes the evening and draws conclusions for business users.
As Nina Galla pointed out, 4sq has remained in a niche in Germany. Merely 60,000 users are thought to check-in on a regular basis, a plus of only 40.000 compared to 2010. In general, LBS with the exception of Qype/Yelp seem to struggle. Google boasts, that 97% of its users are using their very own LBS, whereas Facebook links its 680 million mobile users to Facebook Places. The future of LBS lies clearly in the implementation of reviews, like Yelp does.
Benefits for businesses
Lars Brücher, a level-2-foursquare-superuser and co-founder of the Betahaus, explained how the co-working space set-up its 4sq page. Page admins can add temporary or permanent specials to boost check-ins, like offering a 10% discount on every purchase in a café or shop. Additionally, each check-in goes into a database, which can also be analyzed. The more users like the venue on the website, the higher it will get scored in the search panel. At the moment, check-in competition in Germany is quite rare, so business should use the service as much as possible as long as it is free.
Competition in the LBS sector is fierce and with the 41-milion $ injection 4sq might have entered a crucial stage in its history. Last year, the company exclusively teamed up with communication giants Telekom, but this didn’t help boosting the usage. So merges and takeover are always possible among LBS. Business should seize the irritation and claim their venues on every LBS and exploit all benefits possible (specials, as mentioned above). The risks compared with the possible outcome are very low. Especially German small or midsize businesses could extremely benefit from an increased use of LBS. The mobile usage will rise even more this year and in setting-up a venue or check-in, tailors, shoemakers or physicians can still claim to be a first mover.