Can Geosocial Networking Help My Small Business?

While you may not be familiar with the term, you’re likely familiar with the concept—geosocial networking is just what it sounds like: location-based social networking.

Geosocial Networking
The Geosocial Universe, courtesy of Jess3. Some rights reserved.

Thanks to Jess3’s fantastic visual data representation, it’s clear that Skype and Facebook rule mobile internet—but when we’re dealing in millions of users, even the “small” companies are significant and can help boost your consumer base.

So how does geosocial networking work…and more importantly, how does it benefit your small business?

Think about how any reward-based interactive game works—the ubiquitous Farmville, for example. I’ve never played the game myself (honest!), but I’ve witnessed feeds and feeds of activity of friends out there on their virtual farms, watering their virtual crops, petting each other’s virtual pets (or is that a different game?)…and receiving points and rewards around every turn.

This slow, competitive accumulation of points, and the seemingly disproportionate amount of dedication users leverage to continue accumulating those points or accomplishing those small tasks, leads to small (but frequent) spikes in the pleasure center of the brain. Like Pavlov’s dog, only with the addition of a competitive aspect, you keep coming back for more. Psychologically, these guys have it figured out.

What if you could take this proven practice for getting the public to come back again and again and use it for your business? This is exactly what geosocial networking does.

Take Foursquare, geosocial software that enables frequent visitors to check into a location in exchange for points and badges. Instead of competing for your customers’ attention, you could create an environment where they’re competing against each other for yours in that desire to bypass the competition and reap the period rewards, possibly even including the rush that month’s lucky customer would get for being crowned mayor.

The great thing about geosocial networking is that the user doesn’t have to make a huge commitment. This isn’t like a Facebook group, where the average user has no hope of beating out the thousands and thousands of members from all over the world and competing at all just doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any fun. With a geosocial network like Foursquare, users can go to their local sub shop and find that a couple hundred people are checking in locally over a period of a month—and since user rankings reset after an amount of time, putting everyone back on a level playing field, it’s easy and fun (and feasible) for anyone to get started.

It’s important for your small business to use your customers’ natural competitive instincts and desire for reward to your benefit. The success of the geosocial networking companies available today, any of whom can help you channel that competitive instinct, is proof that the desire to be a part of something local and interconnected is a powerful thing.

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