Despite all of the hype surrounding various check-in services, most of us are not bothering with any of them. Companies such as Google, Foursquare, Gowalla, Shopkick and the almighty Facebook all offer services which let you report your physical location online. This allows you to connect with friends on the fly or receive some pretty rad coupons and discounts when visiting a business. A recent study shows, though, that only about four percent of Americans have tried location-based services, and a mere one percent use them weekly.
“Ever since mobile phones and location technology got started, there have been conversations about the potential for doing something really incredible with this for marketers,” said Melissa Parrish, an interactive marketing analyst at Forrester. “But clearly the question is whether it has reached the mainstream, and it looks like the answer is no.”
Many businesses offer free drinks or discounts on goods when you check in there. Heck, you can receive even better goodies if you become the mayor of many of those same establishments. While this appears to be a great marketing ploy, there is a serious flaw in the equation if no one is using those services.
Twitter has over 145 million users. Foursquare has about three million subscribers. Loopt boasts four million fanatics. However, only about a quarter of them are active. The potential is out there to turn location-based checkins into a marketing guru’s dream. Despite VCs pouring more than $115 million into the mix over the past year, we just aren’t quite there yet.