Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Where Oh, Where Could You Be? A Closer Look At Location-Based Social Networking

Posted by Amanda Walsh

It happened to me the other night. It was just an innocent tweet combined with a Foursquare location in New York City. I didn’t realize until hours later that my friend had tagged me in a location without my knowledge. My first reaction was shock, “Wow! I had no idea.” My second thought was, “what if I didn’t want anyone to know where I was?” and my final thought was, “now I understand why everyone is concerned about privacy issues and location-based social media.”

As social media advances, location-based programs have become more and more popular while continuing to draw criticism. Back in April, I wrote a blog educating ThePRLawyer readers about Foursquare. Foursquare is a location-based social media platform that users access on their cell phones at any given time to post their location to their friends, on Twitter or on Facebook.

According to a New York Times article, “Technology Aside, Most People Still Decline to Be Located,” Foursquare “has close to three million users, most of them in cities.” However looking at the United States as a whole, Forrester Research reported “only 4 percent of Americans have tried location-based services, and 1 percent use them weekly.” The small number of users seems to indicate that sharing location hasn’t caught on with the masses outside of metropolitan cities.

This could all change however. Recently, Facebook introduced the feature, “Places.” With 500 million users, Facebook’s location-sharing feature has definite potential. The Fresh Ideas blog by Burrelles Luce brings up some interesting questions about “Places” that I wanted to share. First, do you think Places is a privacy risk or another way to connect with people? Second, how, if at all, do you plan to incorporate Places in your public relations or marketing outreach?

As this technology grows, businesses will continue their efforts to harness “checking- in” as a marketing tool. We are bound to see more changes in opinion.

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