Location Based Social Media gives new possibilities to marketers. They are not only a new communication channel but they allow engaging customers, interacting with them, getting a direct feedback or even talking to them. When users ‘check-in’ they broadcast their location to the public, their social network and as well share certain information with venue managers. Although it is significantly limited it gives business some possibilities to find out who their customers are, who are their friends, what do they do etc. This kind of information in such a scale was previously difficult to obtain.
From the perspective of retail and service organizations Location-Based Marketing in Social Media is a new channel and value of it seems to be recognized however not necessarily understood and measured. Although companies have been investing in social media marketing for several years already and those expenditures are growing year by year, marketers continue to struggle with the methodologies for validating these investments. Inability to measure the Return on Investment was named by marketers as one of the most significant barriers to the adoption of social media tactics by organizations. Potential benefits from implementing social media marketing have been broadly discussed in the literature (in the table below). Even though there some established Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure those benefit, their direct impact on the organizations financial performance has still not been measured and many marketers claim that non-financial character of social media insight should not be turned into financial measurement .
|Benefits/measurement of Social Media marketing|
|Generating awareness of a brand||Unique page views, fan/follower counts|
|Increasing engagement with a brand||Facebook, blog ect. comments, re-Tweets, time spent on the Web site|
|Increasing brand’s influence||Third-party mentions and links|
|Motivating specific actions (purchases, leads, etc)||Conversions/sign-ups rates|
|Social reach||Presence on a different platforms|
|Increased traffic/subscribers||Increase in % of generated traffic|
|Improved search ranking||Linear increase in search ranking|
|Reduced marketing expenses||% saved expenditures|
|Increased Sales||% of net sales increase|
A customer’s value is not equal to how much they spend at a store, businesses need to take into consideration future purchases and the influence they may have through social media. Universal McCann’s Social Media Research Wave 3 research report (published in Spring 2008) looked at 17 000 Internet users in 29 countries. According to this study, social media can have a dramatic impact on brands reputation: 34% post opinions about products and brands on their blog and 36% think more positively about companies that have blogs.
Marketing in mobile Location-Based Social Media gives from the other hand different opportunities. It connects virtual social media with physical world via location-aware mobile device, which mean that a customer can not only interact with a brand in front of the computer but as well-being in a physical nearness from point of sales. It provides marketing opportunity to create an interactive customer experience, that is linking in-store activity with technology ‘in the pocket’ of visitors.
Location-Based Social Media provide as well different value to organizations. It gives new opportunities to monitor social media not only by brand in general but as well by particular locations of a brand. This new possibilities need a well a new approach. There is a significant discrepancy between theoretical concepts of measurable value of Location-Based Social Media data for marketing and the actual data than can be legally accessed and used in the most popular LBSM due to privacy issues and limitations of different platforms. The following section will review what kind of data can be accessed using two Location-Based Analytics platforms: integrated – Foursquare Merchant Dashboard, and dedicated – VenueLabs Connect. Further, it will compare content of two types of Location-Based Social Media: ‘at-the-location’ and ‘about-the-location’ based on Frankie’s Sports Bar & Grill case study.
Foursquare Merchant Dashboard – integrated Location-Based Analytics
Foursquare gives to business managers a tool to monitor their venues – Foursquare Merchant Dashboard. It gives access to the following real-time data:
- Total daily check-ins over time
- Most recent visitors
- Most frequent visitors
- Gender breakdown of customers
- Daily temporal breakdown of check-ins
- Portion of venue’s Foursquare check-ins that are broadcast to Twitter and Facebook
VenueLabs – dedicated Location-Based Analytics
Although there are several platforms that allow to monitor social media e.g. Radian6, MicroStrategy Social Intelligence, only few of them utilize the potential of location-based social data. Currently the only social media analytics company that is entirely built around location-based content is VenueLabs.
VenueLabs is a Seattle-based company funded in 2009 as ValueVine offering social media promotion software (Appendix I). In Feburary 2011 the company launched ValueVine Connect – the first platform described by founders as ‘Local Storefront Analytics’ – that tracked and measured consumer activity by location. The platform was targeted to franchise companies with multiple branches. After releasing that product ValueVine experienced a significant interest and growth in this area and in October 2011 the founders decided to rebrand the company to VenueLabs and focus particularly on the niche of Location-Based Analytics.
While the single location retail store or restaurant is able to manage multiple sources of location, social content the large chain companies are facing a challenge in this area. VenueLabs Connect platform addresses these challenges by using source-based search engines versus keyword-based search engines used by most of web monitoring platforms (e.g. Radian 6). Keyword engines are searching and indexing websites to find ‘a keyword’ about particular organizations or/and brands while VenueLabs identifies the Location-Based Social Media websites and reports to clients information accumulated from each of those web services.
Essentially the company monitors, aggregates and analyse location-based and location-referring social media data including: check-ins, tweets, likes, reviews, shares, comments, mentions, follows from relevant resources and presents them in a form of a dashboard (figure 28). All the data used by the company are openly available on the internet. VenueLabs reports that there is a significant ‘blind spot’ in the local information acquired through keyword-based search. The ‘blind spot’ can be defined as the gap between the information referring to particular location but not listed as relevant due to the search technology. VenueLabs reports that this gap can reach 70%.
VenueLabs company have kindly granted me the access to their Location-Based Analytics platform for the research purposes. Due to privacy issues granted access is limited and cannot utilize all the features of the service. The aim of the research is to analyze quantitative and qualitative, non-financial measures that can be relevant to determine potential benefits coming from Location-Based Marketing. The aim of the research is not to test quality of the performance of the service.
Presented on the figure above VenueLabs platform dashboard shows several metrics used by the company to measure performance of its clients brands:
1) Performance of the brand (aggregated from all location):
- Percentage of positive consumer sentiment (vs. negative sentiment)
- Number of check-ins over different platforms
- Number of Facebook fans
- Number of Twitter followers
- Number of reviews over different platforms
- Sentiment trends (positive and negative over time)
2) Comparison of brand’s locations over time:
3) Performance of particular location (on the right panel map)
4) Qualitative Information:
- Recent Active Channels
- Biggest Fans
- Biggest Critics
- Loudest Voices
The most crucial quantitative information presented on the panel is consumer sentiment. It is measured as aggregated over last 10 weeks from all resources percentage of positive opinions in all aggregated positive and negative opinions. The number is generated by adding together all positive opinions and negative opinions in a linear way, without applying any weights. Neutral or not qualified messages are not taken into consideration. The sentiment is identified by keyword recognition algorithm. The analysis performed further within the dissertation shows that algorithm works well for short messages/opinions/reviews of customers however relatively long messages are often mistakenly assigned to wrong category changing the result. Nonetheless the value of the sentiment information can be measured and assign to:
- A brand in general
- To specific locations or group of locations
- Temporal variations of sentiment of a brand and of specific locations
The activity comparison shows overall consumer activity at the brand locations. Activity is defined as checkins, mentions, comments, and likes. Reach comparison shows how widely content for each location has grown over time.
VanueLabs show as well the most active online channels for a brand in the last 60 days. The dashboard allows to view users that are considered to be the biggest fans and biggest critics. They are selected based on previous sentiment identification and again keyword search engine to identify the best/the worst opinions/reviews. The loudest voices represent those consumers that are most engaged with a brand. They might represent every kind of sentiment but they are the most active online.
The other product of VenueLabs company is called VenueRank and was released in November 2011. It is a single score in the range of 0-100 that allows VenueLabs clients to compare storefronts within a brand, across brands with competitors, and groups of stores within and across brands. The score examines four different dimensions:
- consumer sentiment
- community engagement
- community size
Community engagement stands for online activity on the monitor social websites referring to particular location. Community size refers to number of followers across platforms. Online reach refers to presence across multiple platforms. The algorithm of weighting the components of the score is a trade secret of the company and could not be obtain.