Geo-Location For Businesses – Where’s It Going?

Interesting to watch what’s happening in the area of geo-location services right now.

Reading ‘Facebook Rolls Out Realtime Social Geo-Local Deals’ today got me thinking about where it’s all going. So now, after Facebook Places (check into locations and see which of your friends are there), with Facebook Deals we’ll also learn about nearby offers.

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It’s something that happens on Foursquare and no doubt other geo-location services too, but the excitement about Facebook offering these things is all about the dominant position it holds. Pundits are salivating at the prospect of what it could mean for businesses looking to tap into those 500 million or so Facebook users. Plus, by putting the emphasis on ‘deals’ they are appealing to the masses who haven’t yet been attracted by geo-social apps.

Is Facebook Deals a big deal for businesses? Will Facebook see off its geo-location rivals? I’m wondering whether in the future the actual platform/service provider will be unimportant. In a mobile-dominated future when more people and more businesses use geo-location, finding deals will only be one small part of the total experience, and people will want (and expect) more than just a list of offers from free coffees to cheap sofas.

As a consumer/customer I’m less interested in being presented with all the ‘deals’ available in any particular location, and more interested in being able to filter out the irrelevant ones, interacting with businesses in real time and customising the experience.

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And let’s not forget, location-based deals is just another form of advertising, it’s not particularly social. Although it’s easy to dismiss the game-playing aspect of Foursquare and such like as being irrelevant to businesses, it may be a mistake. The psychology of virtual worlds and games is powerful stuff with significant repercussions for business which we have yet to see exploited fully. Watch this short talk by Tom Chatfield at TED in the summer and you’ll see what I mean. There are many ways to reward people – mayorships and ‘deals’ only scratch the surface.