Beyond the badges, the stamps and the discounts: the best use of geolocation apps
Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, Brightkite, Loopt,Whrrl, Facebook Places, ShopKick… Check in, get points, unlock badges, even special badges, get stamps, do challenges, get discounts, or $5 gift cards, or a free scoop of ice cream, or $1 off Frappuccino. Blah, blah, blah. Boring stuff, especially if you live in the Midwest.
You’d think that with all the buzz around geolocation apps there would be some creative ideas on how to use them to connect, engage and involve customers with brands. But besides the usual: special badges, stamps and discounts, almost nothing exciting has happened in this space. I didn’t realize it until I decided to create a list of the ten most creative campaigns using location-based apps. I couldn’t even find five, let alone ten. So here’s my list of the top four most creative ways to use location-based apps.
The most creative campaign using location-based apps is KLM Surprise, an experiment on how happiness spreads. Sounds great, no? And it is. The airline is committing random acts of kindness to people who follow them on Foursquare and check in at KLM venues such as airport lounges. The KLM team studies the tweets of people who check in and surprises travelers with little gifts like champagne, notebooks, watches and traditional Dutch food. A passenger was missing an important football (err, excuse me soccer) game and KLM surprised him with a Lonely Planet guide to NYC with all the best football bars marked. Another passenger was surprised with a package to remind him of home during his long stay abroad. Thoughtful, huh? (Also a little bit creepy, according to some.) I guess there goes my loyalty to British Airways. Or maybe Bulgaria Air will send me a nice package for Christmas.
Who can compete with something like this? Nike, of course, with the famous Destroyer Burrito. In partnership with Koi Fusion, Nike surprised its fans in Portland, and the fans of Koi Fusion, with a free jacket packaged in the form of a burrito. The followers of @koifusionpdx and @nikesportswear were instructed to go to the Koi Fusion food truck near Portland University, check in using Facebook Places and request the Destroyer Burrito.
Numero tres is Jimmy Choo with a real-time treasure hunt around London using Foursquare. A pair of Jimmy Choo sneakers checked in at various trendy locations in London and the person who was lucky enough to arrive at the venue before the trainers left got a pair in style and size of his/her choice.
Last is the PepsiCo and Safeway partnership with Foursquare. Launched last month, the rewards program is built on top of Safeway’s existing loyalty program. Customers can link their Foursquare and Safeway accounts to earn rewards from check-ins. Most importantly, the program doesn’t simply reward for check-ins and frequency, but for behaviors. If participating customers unlock the Foursquare “Gym Rat” badge, they might be offered a SoBe Lifewater; or customers who check in early might be offered Tropicana orange juice or Quacker Oats. Now, all we need is a Safeway store in Milwaukee.
What makes these campaigns and programs special is the unique value they provide: entertainment, experience and utility that converges online and offline and connects brands and customers in a way that special badges and 25% off of Gap jeans can never achieve.
Clay Shirky says that tools don’t become socially interesting until they become technologically boring. But geo-location apps, or at least the way they’ve been used so far, have never been technologically interesting, so how do we expect more than 4% of the people to be interested in these tools?