It’s not easy to keep up with all the changes in social media. It is definitely a task to decide which social media platforms should demand your attention and energy. There really isn’t a predictor for which platform will succeed and survive and which platform will crash and burn. That being said, it has been interesting to watch the rise of location based social networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt. These geosocial networks are jockeying for position in the social networking world.
For those who haven’t experimented with location based social networks, these networks are mobile applications where the users can “check in” at any place in the world. It’s like placing a thumbtack on a virtual GPS map so everyone knows where you are and where you have been. The users can also provide details and tips about the places they have “checked in” at and the networks reward the users with virtual swag.
Many businesses have seen a marketing angle for these mobile geosocial applications; for example, a certain number of “check ins” at a coffee shop could get you a free cup of coffee. These applications have turned into the high tech version of the business card that gets hole punched at the bakery cash register every time you buy a kolache.
Recently, there have been two nonprofit organizations that have started geosocial networking initiatives using Foursquare.
1. Earthjustice put up posters like the one below in the BART stations in San Francisco.
2. Wendy’s is about to begin its Treat It Forward campaign to raise money for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. If a user “checks in” using Foursquare, Wendy’s will donate 50 cents to DTFA per “check in.”
These are great examples of nonprofits using a geosocial network platform, but there are a few things to keep in mind when deciding if this is an avenue your nonprofit needs to explore at this very moment:
1. The success of geosocial networks is dependent on the rate of smart phone adoption. If smart phone purchasing continues to rise, one could argue that geosocial networks could become next big thing! Is the current usage enough to show any sort of return for your organization?
2. The nature of the application is that the target is mostly a younger, early adopter audience. From the recent research on The Next Generation of American Giving, there is a growing need to engage with Gen X and Gen Y. Could these geosocial networks be your platform to engage with younger generations?
3. A organization interested in using geosocial networking needs to find an appropriate use for it. It’s pretty safe to assume not everyone can “check in” at an offshore oil rig, so Earthjustice had to get creative with their poster placement. Can your organization get creative and be appropriate?
4. Does your organization have the time and money to successfully experiment with this new platform? If you have your Blog, Twitter and Facebook game on point, I would suggest maybe looking into the use of geosocial networking. If your organization’s social media initiative is still a tad green, it may be best to concentrate on the more accessible social media platforms for the moment.
Let me know what you think! Is your organization using or thinking about using a geosocial network? Thoughts? Ideas?