Archive | January, 2012

How Non-Profits Are Using LBS to Promote Awareness — And Spur Donations

31 Jan



Although location-based services are most often used in marketing campaigns designed to drive profits, they are also becoming quite important in the non-profit realm as well. Charitable organizations have begun introducing LBS related to their cause, promoting awareness while providing useful information for those suffering from various illnesses — and potentially setting the stage for increased giving.


Assisting Those in Need
The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) has taken the first step into the LBS industry by introducing a revolutionary tracking device designed for Alzheimer’s patients. The AFA has paired up with Michigan-based mobile company Breadcrumb LLC to develop the “Breadcrumb BC300 GPS Locating Device,” the first Alzheimer’s-specific tracking device on the market. A lightweight device that straps around an individual’s ankle enables caregivers to track the wearer’s real-time location via a Google map. Through the construction of a  geo-fenced area around the wearer’s home or care center, the device can send alerts to up to five caregivers when the wearer is outside of the designated zone. The device costs under $1.50 a day to use and offers reassurance to worried caregivers that their loved ones will remain safe.

The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC) has adapted LBS into a smartphone application assisting those who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease. Available on the Android and iPhone, the app “Can’t Wait” uses GPS signals to identify the user’s location and compile a map and list view of all the public bathrooms within their proximity. CCFC Marketing and Communications Manager Jacqueline Waldorf explains that the vast majority of those living with Crohn’s disease or colitis experience difficulty in accessing bathrooms, and often limit potential experiences because of this lack of bathroom accessibility. This app is designed to quickly and efficiently provide users with bathroom locations when they literally can’t wait.

Creating Charity Awareness
Non-profit organizations such as the AFA and the CCFC have utilized LBS to benefit those living with the illnesses that their organization represents. One smartphone app, Vinspired, introduces a unique way for individuals to get involved in their local communities and support non-profit organizations. The app is designated for youth throughout England aged 14-25, offering them access to a variety of volunteer positions from over 550 organizations. Users simply enter their postcode into the app and a list of nearby opportunities are pinpointed onto a map. Users can click on the pin to gain further information about both the organization as well as the various volunteer positions available within it. The app not only promotes charitable and nonprofit organizations within England, but also encourages youth to take an active role in their community and get involved.

Lastly, let’s not forget about the money.  None of these charities could exist without the financial support of the communities they serve.  To help that process along, many are turning to location-based technology.

The 2012 Obama campaign recently announced that they will be accepting donations via mobile payments start-up Square.  Similarly, the Salvation Army, known worldwide for there Christmas kettle campaigns, decided to test the very same technology by arming bell ringers this past season with Android smartphones equipped with the Square card reader, so they could process credit card donations in at over 40 locations.  We can expect even more of this in the year to come.

The bottom line is that it has become evident that location-based marketing is not strictly for retailers and large corporations — charities and non-profit organizations are increasing their presence in this fast-moving industry. Now get out there and support them!


Location-Based Marketing Hits the Food Truck Circuit

24 Jan



In recent years, there has been a spike in the popularity of food trucks — with many vendors now offering gourmet and specialized menus that put an end to preconceived notions of “street meat.” And when it comes to food trucks, location is critical; making sure that nearby consumers know where a truck is parked can make or break a day’s sales. As a result, location based services have become an excellent marketing tool for these meals on wheels. There are some great apps now available that can help you satisfy your appetite on the go — and which can help vendors make sure the line is long at lunchtime.


Roaming Hunger is a good example. The blog and smart phone app allows users to easily find food trucks in their area that could suit their appetite, cataloging trucks in most major cities across the U.S. This free app utilizes vendor tweets and calendars to keep track of the food trucks in their database. The app can be used to search for trucks near you, those recently talked about on Twitter, the most liked, savory, sweet or vegetarian. It also allows users to view truck hours of operation in addition to location which allows you to plan ahead before taking to the street.

The Food Network’s Eat St. has played a major role in promoting this food truck culture, highlighting the most innovative mobile cuisine in North America. Now, the Eat St. free app is available to help users easily track down trucks in their area. The app offers the option to search by proximity, popularity and type of cuisine. Eat St. works a little differently than Roaming Hunger, allowing food truck owners to update their own locations, menus, hours and profiles. Using GPS, users can quickly and easily get directions from their location to the food truck — which is especially great for roaming trucks that may change their location daily. Users also have the option to add food trucks to the app themselves which is great for more stationary trucks that don’t need much updating.

Another great resource is TruxMap, which has its own iOS, Android, and mobile web versions. If you’re in a major city in the United States, there’s a good chance that there’s a famous food truck driving around making something tasty on it. With TruxMap, you’ll now know exactly where they are at all times, and more importantly, if they’re serving food or not.

Many food trucks are also starting to become more socially savvy, utilizing the many other benefits of location based services such as Twitter and Foursquare. Consumers can use apps like Foursquare to get discounts, access free samples, and get updates on the latest news, and daily specials (depending on the vendor).

Music Marketing — A Location-Based Listening Experience

17 Jan



As location-based marketing becomes increasingly popular, the variation of place-centric apps is also increasing, with niche players competing to provide targeted local ads and promotions. The music industry, in particular, has staked out its place in the location-based marketing scrum through the development of applications that combine music and location into integrated marketing tools.


Band Branding
An important part of musicians’ success is their ability to connect with their fans and create “personal” relationships with them. This is exactly what location-based music apps allow them to do. The application, for instance, allows bands to upload their tracks according to location, allowing users on the app in the same location to view all the tracks and download them. This app gives bands interested in creating a local identity within their hometown a great potential to connect with other locals.

A similar app, SoundTracking, utilizes a social network similar to Twitter to create a music sharing experience. Users are able to follow other users and gain followers, and then share whichever song is playing on their iPod or in their surroundings. If users are unaware of which song they are hearing out loud at a store or on the radio, they can hold their phone up and allow the app to recognize the song and then publish it to their SoundTracking profile. This app provides artists with the opportunity to share their own music on their profile to their followers, but also provides them with more exposure as users share music with their followers.

One band, Bluebrain, has taken this concept of location-based music sharing even further, creating two albums that integrate with the listener’s location. Bluebrain’s two albums, National Mall and Central Park, require users to download their application, which tracks their location and changes songs from each album based on their location in Washington, D.C., for the former, and New York City for the latter. As listeners navigate through different zones, their listening experience is altered. So far, these are the only two location-based albums of this type, and both provide a completely unique experience.

Broadcasting Benefits
Bands are not the only users benefiting from these location-based music applications; radio stations have also began adopting place-based marketing techniques to promote their stations.

Recently, the National Radio Systems Committee, seeking a dialogue around how location-based services will influence and change the delivery of radio content and related advertising, issued an RFP. The request underlines radio’s need to reinvent itself in order to take advantage of location. Knowing where listeners are at any given time is a tremendous advantage, and it provides the ability to create new “localized” revenue streams that simply didn’t exist before.

Another way music is being reinvented is via location-based storytelling.  One company in this space is Broadcastr, an app where stories are recorded and shared in audio format, each pegged to a specific location. Users can search for stories by location or category, or may opt to “follow” a person who they consider to be a good storyteller, sorting stories by that person into a special tab. Listeners can rate stories as they hear them. Stories can be shared with others via email, Facebook or Twitter.

Music is simply the next expression of the vast array of location-services that have the power to not just help us get from one place to the next, but to also have an emotional connected experience around a place.

Checking In to the Campaign Season

10 Jan



The way political communication happens is constantly evolving, especially now that social media has become such a major part of the game. As one of the most popular ways to spread a message to a broad audience, social media — and, by extension, location-based marketing (LBM) — can have an even bigger impact on political communication than ever before. Utilizing LBM for political purposes opens up many different opportunities for politicians to connect with their supporters, as well as for potential voters to connect and share ideas with one another. Here are a few ways LBM may effect upcoming elections:



For Politicians
Social media has already changed the way that politicians communicate with their audience, and in upcoming elections we will surely see the ways in which LBM will take this communication to another level. Services like Facebook Places and Foursquare, for example, are excellent ways for politicians to keep supporters involved and updated about the campaign. Using these services will allow politicians to reach an even larger audience than traditional methods without being too obtrusive. A good example of this is the recently announced partnership between and Foursquare.

Checking in to campaign events, charities and other places that matter to the community would be a great way for a politician to demonstrate their efforts to and get some positive attention. Instead of actively having to seek out this campaign information, potential voters will easily be able to find it just by logging into their social networks. Using LBM can also make it easier for politicians to locate their supporters, as well as supporters of opposing parties, which in turn will help identify which areas may need more (or less) attention.

For Potential Voters
The greatest thing about social networking is that it allows anyone to communicate with anyone else. This is excellent when it comes to politics, and now LBM has added another useful layer to this communication. Utilizing LBM not only allows potential voters to easily get up to date on what politicians are doing, but also makes it easier to identify like-minded voters with whom they can connect and share ideas with.

Geopollster is a good example, a service that works with Foursquare so that users can “cast a vote” for whichever party they support every time they check in somewhere. This allows other users to easily view where supporters are located in their area, and find out where they might want to go to connect with these people. Geopollster (used during the 2011 Canadian Federal election) also provides online maps (in Canada and the U.S) that show which areas of the country are dominated by what party, and by what percent. This allows for an interesting (although not entirely accurate) way to get an idea of candidate standings. The concept of gamification, is highly evident here as the population is encouraged to continue checking-in to “take control of a building” for their party. It’s like playing a location-based version of the old board game Risk.

Utilizing LBS can also make it easy for those who want to be more politically active to find out what kind of campaign events are happening nearby that they can take part in.

Using LBS to Find Jobs and Workers

3 Jan



The unemployment rate is dropping — a little. At 8.6%, there are still a lot of people out of work. Meanwhile, employers are still hiring.

If leveraged properly, location-based services can offer the extra boost that helps job seekers and employers make a connection and find the right fit. Here’s how it works:


Job Seeker Check-Ins
“Checking in” to a location on your mobile device can be a strong networking tool leading to connections with others at the same location, or give employers a heads-up of your presence and expertise.

Foursquare, for example, is currently utilized by over half a million businesses/brands. This app and others like it (such as Google Latitude, Gypsii, and Sonar to name a few) can go above and beyond sharing location, opening up a world of networking opportunities for those seeking employment. These apps make it easier than ever to connect with other professionals in the area. By checking in to certain locations — like a professional networking event for example — a job seeker is able to make it known that they and their expertise have arrived. Checking in can also help identify who at the same venue might be worth making an effort to meet.

Employer “Tips” and Location Information
Many apps allow users to attach tips and text to a location. Why not use LBS to alert users in the vicinity of job opportunities? When users, who undoubtedly will include job seekers, check into the area, they will be able to see this information and have easy access to details about company and the job itself, drawing in a bigger audience than traditional methods.

Once potential candidates have been gathered to fill a position, employers can find value in viewing those individuals’ connections on location apps as well as social networks to get an idea of the person and possibly their references. Taking a look at a candidate’s check-in history will also give a glimpse of what kind of social life/history a certain person has — which could be very positive, or perhaps negative, for the job seeker!

Employers, like HP can use tools like HootSuite with Geooko integration to track your social presence tagged to locations. There is a lot of opportunity for employers who utilize location based services to get a better sense of the people they may hire and hopefully find the best possible match.

Staff Check-Ins for Brand Building
Once you land a job you will want to do everything you can to keep a good impression, and location based services may be able to help in this area as well. It can be very beneficial for employees to check in to places, including their own company, which will assist in putting the brand on the map in a bigger way. Frequent check-ins can also help to identify potential networking opportunities for a company based on the places visited and the other individuals in them. This could be an excellent resource to bring to your company’s HR departments attention so they can view opportunities and decide the best way to move forward. Beyond checking in, most apps also allow users to leave comments or tips on certain locations which could be used to boost the positive view of your own brand, or perhaps a clients.

Important to note when using any of these services to benefit your employer is to follow the social media policy the company should have in place. This will ensure your brand is only getting positive recognition it deserves and avoid getting you into any trouble!

Whether you are an individual seeking a job or a company looking to hire, location based services may be a step in the right direction when it comes to finding the perfect match. So start checking in! You never know where it may take you.