Simon Salt

This blog post is guest-written by Simon Salt, CEO and co-founder of IncSlingers. He is a nationally-recognized speaker and blogger on the hottest topics in social media.

As with so many channels within social media, social location marketing, the process of utilizing Social Location Sharing platforms such as Foursquare, Gowalla, MyTown and others as a marketing channel, seems most difficult for the B2B sector. Meanwhile, the opportunities for the B2C space seem almost endless, especially for those with physical locations.

However, for the B2B space it is a much tougher proposition. After all, many B2B organizations do not have locations that are open to the public. A finserv firm is unlikely to be interested in rewarding a visitor for becoming mayor of their offices. They might, however, want to be a part of the location revolution and include it in their marketing mix, but how?

The challenge here is to resist the “buzz” and understand the “why”. Why would this be an appropriate marketing channel for a lender, software company or office supply company? All too often, organizations feel that they should be “doing” something in social media and every time some new platform comes along they feel the pressure to add that to their mix.  While understandable, it is also very unrealistic. Not all businesses are suited to all forms of marketing, and especially not all forms of social media. For example the bail bond industry is unlikely to have much success trying to join the Social Location Sharing marketing explosion. I’m not sure how many of their clients would want to share that they were trying to bail a family member or friend out of jail. Interestingly, however, some venues that marketers might think are also taboo prove not to be; strip clubs and gynecologists appear regularly on twitter feeds as places being checked into. Never underestimate just how much information people will share about themselves!
Has your company "checked in"? Photo credit: flickr user habi

The most common point of entry at present for B2B organizations is through events. These give them a temporary physical location that can be “checked into” and that they can build a reward system around. However, given the short term nature of events, they have to be well thought through and ensure that the data captured around the rewards and check-ins are maximized in a way that benefits the organization.

In the past, this type of event marketing might have been as simple as a fishbowl draw, where attendees dropped their business card into a bowl and got the opportunity to win a prize (iPad anyone?). Now the same type of draw can be operated with broader messaging behind it. By creating a “game” that has people checking in and adding a specific comment to be qualified to enter, an organization can leverage attendees’ sharing habits to promote their company message, and all without additional cost.

Another method of entering any of these spaces, and Social Location Sharing/marketing in particular, is to expand the vision. By altering the point of entry to the process, many B2B organizations can find opportunities that they would have otherwise overlooked. For example, an office supply company might not have an offering directly to the end users of Social Location Sharing tools, but their customers might. For example, they could market window decals to coffee shops to put in windows that remind their customers to “check-in, become a fan (or like), or follow” the store. This way, they are still a part of the process, though not a direct player. They are still capitalizing on the opportunity presented by this marketing channel.

Obviously, this is only the briefest of overviews of how the B2B space can leverage social location marketing, but the opportunities are definitely there, and for those willing to make a few leaps, so are the rewards.

9 Responses to “Social location marketing: What’s in it for B2B?”

  1. Thanks, gave it a try on the blackberry. Much to be desired at the moment. As marketers, we need to pick the most cost efficient and adopted platform as well. Foursquare is miles ahead in my opinion, specially outside of their main core geography.


  2. Thanks, gave it a try on the blackberry. Much to be desired at the moment. As marketers, we need to pick the most cost efficient and adopted platform as well. Foursquare is miles ahead in my opinion, specially outside of their main core geography.


  3. Their site says it's also now available for Android, Blackberry (in beta), and Palm–in addition to iPhone and iPad.

  4. Hi Bilal-

    Gowalla is certainly the most event-friendly of the two, as Foursquare's community actively discourages events-as-venues.

  5. Events do present a great opportunity in the B2B space. One concern is to pick one platform over the other. Given the short nature of the event, B2B organizations have to make the most cost-efficient decision with maximum utility. Foursquare or Gowalla? (Which platform is more friendly towards customization, custom badges etc should also be considered as well).

    – Cheers,
    Bilal Jaffery
    Web Marketing @ IBM

  6. LuAnn
    Thank you. Glad you found it useful. There is definitely value for the B2B space in Location, it's not all about B2C and there is money for marketers there as well.

  7. Simon, you know I love it when you talk B2B and professional services (the PR clients I focus on). Just like when Twitter and Facebook first started to gain in popularity, I'm seeing more and more tiny glimpses of true business value in location-based marketing for these folks. Keep the advice coming, my friend.

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