“What Should I Do?” – Location Sharing

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on July 08, 2010 in: Social Media Mindmeister

Once again, I’m taking one of the branches of the Social Media mindmap from MindMeister and sharing some of my thoughts and best practices on it.

This week’s topic is Location Sharing and the mindmap shares the 4 big location sharing sites: BrightKite, Foursquare, Gowalla, and Loopt.

We shouldn’t be surprised that this is where the web is now. The world just spent a decade with the “Gee-whiz, we can talk to people in Uzbekistan” mindset. We stretched our business wings and reached out to a worldwide market. That’s fine, but then we started to wake up to the fact that when we need a plumber or electrician, we don’t want one from Uzbekistan – we want one near us. The local web trend was born and 2010 (and beyond) is going to see a boom in local web marketing.

Preceding the local trend is the trend toward the social web: Sharing and building a community. So when you combine those two concepts together – social plus local – we shouldn’t be surprised that we get location sharing.

Now, before I jump into some tips, let me mention some of the things that I don’t like about location sharing:

  1. First, I have some concerns about security and privacy. I’m not thrilled by the fact that people know when I’m not at home.
  2. Second, I’m not sure that every business will benefit from location sharing to the same degree. I think it’s a really fun personal connection point but a business that deals with international clients won’t benefit by telling its clients that they are at Randall’s Bakery on 24th Street.

But, if you have a local clientele, and if your concerns about home security are abated (because you have a big dog or an alarm system or whatever) then share your location!

Here’s what I recommend for great location sharing:

  • Personally, I like and use Foursquare and I think it’s the best one of the four location sharing sites. (Disclaimer: I’ve reviewed all four but chose Foursquare because I liked its simplicity and its familiar Twitter-like interface. I also think businesses are really buying into Foursquare more than the others.)
  • Tie your check-ins into your Twitter stream to broaden the benefit.
  • Use the location sharing device for what it’s meant for: It’s not just to tell people where you are but to share with your community what you like (i.e. “Get the triple-glazed doughnut at Randall’s Bakery”).
  • If you have a community of active, local clients, use your location sharing as a way to invite people to stop by and say hello. But recognize that your clients (depending on what they do) may not be as location independent as you are.
  • Don’t broadcast your location if you don’t want other people to stop by. For example, if you’re meeting a coaching client at Starbucks, keep the meeting private or else your client might become embarrassed by the parade of people who stop in and say hello to you.

Location sharing is fun, but it’s also new. I think there are some bugs to work out and it needs to be more broadly adopted before it becomes more useful.

Good luck trying this new technique out!

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