You can’t find it on a map or on Google Earth. It is the “Great Location-based Social Network Divide.” I regularly fall into it. It again happened on Saturday. I had lunch at Chili’s and as an avid Foursquare user, I checked in at the venue. A specials tab caught my eye and I was very pleased to find out for checking in I would receive free chips and salsa. The gaping hole opened up when I showed my iPhone with the information about the special offer, which included a coupon code to my server. I got the deer-in-the-headlights look. He went to his manager who came out and looked at my iPhone with amazement. His district GM was there so he showed it to him. Both had heard about the promotion, but had never seen it. For the most part, this is a typical reaction I get at most large chains. I’ve gotten use to explaining what Foursquare and Gowalla are to people.

Recently, I spoke to Sub Station II’s franchise convention about incorporating social media with an emphasis on location-based social networks into their marketing mix (full disclosure here I was compensated for speaking to them). They are on the right track because they identified social media as an area to they wanted to learn more about. I started my talk by asking the 30 or so franchise owners what social networks did they participate in and what ones did their businesses. Only a handful raised their hands for both questions. So I spoke to them about what social media is, what social networks could be best suited for their businesses and gave them the tools to start. There were lots of questions and open spirited discussions. At the end, I asked them were they going to move forward in engaging customers via social media. Quite a few hands went up and a couple raised their hands telling me during my talk they had signed-up for Foursquare and had already started seeing benefits. Because Sub Station II franchises are small businesses they are more agile in embracing location-based social networks.

Take away here is if businesses embrace location-based social networks then they need to communicate with all of their internal stakeholders and that’s means from the CEO to the busboy should have knowledge about what social networks the company is involved with and if any promotions are occurring. The people on the front lines of customer service need to be one of the first groups made aware of what is happening on Facebook or Foursquare. Having that buy-in from all internal stakeholders is a win-win for both the company and the customer.

Bridging the “Great Location-Based Social Network Divide” can help the bottom-line.
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