Thursday, October 07, 2010
Foursquare, Gowalla, and social network business models ...
As you may or may not know, I am a "part-time" user of both Foursquare and Gowalla. I say "part-time" because I normally forget to open the applications up when I go somewhere (unless I am out eating lunch by myself, or waiting for somebody and I find myself bored so I fiddle with my phone). With SMSs pretty cheap here in the Czech Republic (1 kč per SMS ... or, about .05 US cents), it's just much faster to SMS people if I want them to join me. Basically, what I really lack is incentive to use such apps on a normal basis.
Of course, in places like New York, where Foursquare was born and rules the city, you're much more likely to find "deals" ... ie ... electronic notices/coupons related to the places you visit. A somewhat crude form of location based advertising ... not quite as fancy as our Jellingspot data server we used to sell back in the early 2000s (bluetooth location based services platform), which we shelved a few years ago (no "easy to use" app stores existed then). But, it works.
Even this, however, isn't the greatest incentive. If they really want to grow -- they need to learn about viral marketing and/or viral sales teams. Imagine if I set up locations in Gowalla, and then made .1 cent for every check-in? Ok, maybe a bit far fetched, but maybe I could make a deal with my favorite locations -- for every check-in you bring them, you get .1 cent?
There are a ton of mini-viral marketing/sales activites they could do to stimulate exponential growth of their app use. A kind of virtual francising. This would be incentive for me to use and spread the usage of these applications. Heck, even a simple monthly lottery for people who check in would be a nice incentive. Everytime you check-in (at certain locations for example), your name goes into a virtual hat ... end of the month, there will be a drawing where you can win, ABC, XYZ, etc. Think about it. Thousands of users would then be pushing your product. You don't have to cough up a bunch of cash (although somekinda Google Ads like business model could be cooked up ...). Food for thought ...
Illustration from: http://topnews.net.nz/