</a>There’s a mobile phenomenon subtly taking shape that may revolutionize business, just like traditional social networks have done over the latter part of the decade. Geolocation programs and services are slowly gaining popularity among smartphone users. But what providers are making headway in the geolocation space, and how will this medium affect the way you do business? Check it out.
<a href="http://foursquare.com/"><strong>FOURSQUARE</strong></a> Incorporating gaming elements, this location-based social network allows users to “check in” at various locations earning badges and rewards. This relatively new geolocation social network is rapidly growing in popularity and gained 1 million users after only a year, and 2 million users a few months later. (By comparison, it took Twitter two years to get to 1 million users.) Some companies have partnered up with Foursquare to offer special promotions and giveaways to contest winners. Users can win points and badges for checking in and ultimately become the “mayor” of a venue. To leverage this, some small and large businesses offer specials to mayors.
<a href="http://twitter.com/" target="_blank"><strong>TWITTER</strong></a> While most of us are familiar with Twitter as a<a href="http://www.blackenterprise.com/small-business/2010/05/28/how-to-effective-marketing-on-twitter/" target="_blank"> <strong>microblogging site</strong>,</a> it recently announced a geolocation-based feature, Twitter Places. Using the “features” function, tweets from specific locations are highlighted. Twitter and mobile users can tag existing tweets and add new Twitter Places. Find out where the hot spots are in your area by searching recent public tweets and get information about nearby venues along with reviews. It’s an instant people finder. Twitter announced that it will link Twitter Places with Foursquare and Gowalla.
</a><a href="http://gowalla.com/" target="_blank"><strong>GOWALLA</strong></a> Though similar to Foursquare, Gowalla is less social and heavily incorporates a game feature. Users check in at different locations around their city as their smartphone’s GPS verifies their location. Earn virtual prizes—points, stamps, icons and pins of glory—when checking in. Gowalla has about 340,000 registered users and 1.4 million “registered” venues. Some companies are leveraging Gowalla by offering deals and giveaways to people who check in at certain times.</p>
<a href="http://brightkite.com/" target="_blank"><strong>BRIGHTKITE</strong></a> Brightkite seeks to bring the virtual world offline. Users can locate friends, meet people around them, and learn about new places. Boasting 2 million users worldwide, Brightkite is big on localized promotions, which is considerably attractive to companies who can sign up for free. Local Brighkite users will be notified of a venues promotion or discount.