The idea seems right: Find a way for someone to interact with your product or brand using the thing that seemingly ties them to the rest of their world, their smartphone. However, there appears to be a gap between the idea and reality. Pew Research Center recently released a survey announcing that only 12% of smartphone owners say they use check-in services.
Nothing comes free. In order to get someone to do something, you need to reward them in one way or another. Until now, check-in companies have relied heavily on the gamification aspect, granting badges or mayorships. The model needs to evolve. Let’s face it, as consumers our time is expensive. We’re hit with thousands of messages a day and can only react to so many.
Services like Foursquare allow businesses to utilize specials. You can get rewarded for checking in for the first time (Newbie Special), being the mayor (Mayor Special), visiting frequently (Loyalty Special), attending the venue with a large group (Swarm Special), visiting with friends (Friend Special), or just plain and simple on the spot deals (Flash Special). These are great, and if I actually knew of businesses around me using these types of specials, I’d be excited. Maybe it’s just where I live, but these things don’t exist for me. I got free chips and salsa once at Chili’s. The problem here is that they are relying on businesses to create the specials, so their future is in someone else’s hands at this point.
Adapt or Die (Thanks Billy Beane, as played by Brad Pitt)
Enter Facebook. Facebook is edging itself into every corner of our lives. That might scare people, but it’s a natural evolution of their business model. They’ve been collecting information on users for so long that we are tied to the service, emotionally. Our lives have been posted there. The “timeline” is amazing. I can view pictures of what I was doing the week before I proposed to my now wife.
So how did Facebook end up in this post? Facebook has check-in capabilities too. If I’m not going to get anything special from the other guys, I’m going to take the path of least resistance and just use Facebook since I’m already there. I have the feeling others may do the same. Facebook is big enough to make some hefty leaps with these capabilities if they choose to do so. Do you think businesses would be willing to work with Facebook in a venture like this? Nike and Spotify thought it was a good idea.
The bottom line is that check-ins need to become something special and in a hurry, or Facebook just might eliminate all competition.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading.