Marketing With Geotagging Is Where It's At

For the past few weeks, this guy has been standing at a busy intersection I pass on my way home from work, holding a picket sign announcing the closing of the K-mart store just down the road. "Discounts of 70%-80%!" "Final Days!" Each year around tax time, without fail, there is a different man dressed up in a Statue of Liberty costume that waves like a maniac to passing cars while pointing to the small Liberty Tax office nestled in the strip mall behind him. These are examples of proximity marketing in its most rudimentary form. And, believe it or not, it works.

New geotagging capabilities with Twitter essentially allow marketers to put a person on the corner wearing a sandwich board all day. When Twitter announced that its geotagging API was available, my head started spinning with the possibilities this would have for marketing. This technology is also hitting at a perfect time. More retailers are testing deals and coupon codes through social media, holiday shopping is in full swing, and more people are using smartphones than ever before.



Youth marketers should be taking notice of the recent research from Pew Internet & American Life Project showing that the 18-24-year-old-demographic now accounts for 37% of Twitter users. That figure is up considerably from 2008. Instead of analyzing if this is an anomaly, wouldn't you rather spend time cutting your teeth now on strategies for connecting with this demographic using tweets?

Recent statistics published by Deloitte Services and the National Retail Federation show that 60% of consumers will use social media to locate coupons and discounts, and 59% of retailers will boost Twitter use.

Small businesses and franchisees will capitalize on geotagging first. By following local Twitter conversations, neighborhood shops will likely get people following them as well. As "tweepstakes" and offers are shared, a crop of local followers is cultivated through real-time discussions and custom offers built on the fly from trending topics.

Geolocation of tweets is just the beginning. Soon, I expect everything to have geotagging capabilities and tie back into social media. That means the GPS unit on your dash will tweet where you are driving, and fast-food chains or gas stations will tweet deals to lure you in. Facebook will follow suit, opening the door for marketers to deliver coupons and real-time offers while you update your status from your phone.

Smartphone usage with youth will become ubiquitous in short order as data plans get cheaper and cell phone carriers start playing nice with each other. This has already led to more app development with a prerequisite that they include social media and geolocation utility. Target has an iPhone app that allows shoppers to check store inventory based on their location, get a store map, and even pinpoint the aisle in which the item is located.

How will you use geotagging in your marketing? Will youth notice and respond to offers from brands using this technology?

6 comments about "Marketing With Geotagging Is Where It's At ".
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  1. Dayo Adefila from HotSauce, November 25, 2009 at 4:52 p.m.

    I think the opportunities are real. We are afterall the NOW Generation who want everything NOW. I am working on adopting Geotagging for a marketing campaign for a new youth brand in Nigeria - home to over 40million youths.

  2. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, November 27, 2009 at 2:11 p.m.

    Let's look at reality here. The 18 to 24's are using twitter to keep up with friends vs seeking brand engagement. The MASSIVE volume of tweets makes it impossible to get a tweet seen nevermind a click through to a website. Geotagging would allow the 18 to 24's zero in on a location and read tweets from that location. but unlike a transponder broadcasting if there is a ton of tweeters in an area and one asks for just the tweets from that area you either get 1] a massive dump of hundreds of tweets to sift through or 2] you wait and maybe a store will be sending a tweet at that moment. I am much more bullish on location based mobile advertising outside of twitter than actually using twitter. People seeing signs that give a call to action are perfect. A service that will enable a very clean list of local deals would be great (but can twitter control who posts to local hash tags?). Or a service that if you turn the app on in your phone will sift through and collect just the deals or offers from narrow categories like clothing or restaurants. I doubt Tweeters really want their location known to just anyone...especially if they know advertisers will target and slam them via non-opt-in intrusions. But it does help retailers and restaurants to show up via Geo-location and somehow offer people a way of connecting privately somehow (via SMS or other method).
    And Twitter needs to be careful....all there needs to be is just one violent crime of someone who stalks someone on twitter and then sees their location and the service is doomed. It has happened on all the social sites by an evil person connecting and ask to meet someone....but with geo location they could just know where someone is and to me that is scary stuff.

  3. Michael Maurillo, November 28, 2009 at 10:51 a.m.

    All the examples you give for how marketers should use Twitter geo-tagging (aside from Target example, which is actually about mobile, not Twitter) are the exact examples that consumers will give as teventually give for why they will end up opting-out of the feature. To assume a customer need based solely on where they are standing results in nothing but unwanted spam.

    If I'm following your scenario correctly, I would receive an unsolicited @ message from someone I DON'T follow every time I walk by one of their locations. This is not "building conversations", nor will it lead to people "likely following" local shops back (furthermore, nor is it original. Mobile marketing has been talking about geotargeting for a decade now). What you are describing, though, is just another short-sited, marketer-centeric strategy to the social web. Well done.

  4. David Thurman from Aussie Rescue of Illinois, November 30, 2009 at 10:03 a.m.

    I am sure we will see abuse, typical for those on the web, but once we see some maturity, I can see a very valuable product. I am an avid Tweeter, and knowing a geoloc would help me in finding contacts of my followers when we need help.

  5. Michael Dirmeikis from SMS Text Marketing, November 30, 2009 at 3:01 p.m.

    Proximity marketing needs to be opt in in various aspects. An app could present a list of participating marketing partners to the wireless subscriber, prompting them to check off the ones they have an interest in, and the frequency of communications to their phones. Maybe they also need to indicate the distance from the marketer that will trigger an offer being sent, maybe the days of the week that they will receive. If Friday's is a participating marketer, a consumer may be interested in receiving coupons only on Friday nights. A consumer may be receptive to fashion retailers only on Saturdays, or Sundays. Probably also need a limit on the number of offers presented within a given time period. If all these choices are in the control of the consumer, proximity marketing will work well, and not be subject to all the spam concerns what people now have.

  6. Ramaswamy Ramasubbu from bitswoven technologies pvt ltd, December 18, 2009 at 12:55 p.m.

    Folks ..chill.... i think statistically speaking ...the no.of persons willing to buy something near a store vis a vis the no. of people passing by or nearby is so low that it will not be proximity marketing but intrusion marketing... i dread to walk into a mall with my kids ..lo behold seventy tweets on deals on the mall .. and i have to search for my secret gf's tweet...folks u lost it..... I think it is time to invent a moore's law in social marketing...the closer you are the lesser u get ads....... or some crazy variation of that... in every 5 months the no.of social media commercial messages will quadruple ... so much so that u will have real message finder, friend finder, truth serum test being hugely popular

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