According to a recent Tampa Bay Business Journal report, Starbucks and Buffalo Wild Wings lead the way in food locations that have the most Facebook check-ins.
Checking-in has become culturally accepted very quickly and the ability to check-in has been made easy due to applications from Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla and others. The process is pretty simple. Arrive at a coffee shop. Pull out your cell phone and open the mobile app for Facebook. Click the ‘check-in’ button and a message is shared throughout your social network letting everyone know that, “hey, I’m at Big Mike’s House of Coffee.”
But what drives people to check-in to restaurants, offices, ballparks and other places? And is there a value for Tampa businesses if their customers are checking in?
Why do people check-in?
Something to do: First and foremost, checking-in is simply something to do – or something fun to do. We stand in line. We wait for food to come. We’re needing something to occupy our minds for a moment. So, we pull out our cell phone. Checking-in is a growing pastime.
Competition: The folks at Foursquare realized they could make a neat social network game out of people’s interest in checking in. On Foursquare, you can connect with friends, earn awards and even earn rewards from the businesses you check-in at. A little competition moves everything forward.
Status: You like for people to know you’re at Starbucks. It says something about you. Or maybe you want people to know you’re at the airport. It shows you’re a business road warrior. Or perhaps it shows that you’re off to another exotic local. Check-ins allow you to portray yourself in whatever way you want. Status is a part of it. Consequently, there a
re probably not a lot of check-ins at your local dry cleaners or podiatrist office.
Communication: Checking-in is a simple communication tool. Very quickly and easily, you can let a large group of people know what you’re doing and where you are.
Connect with friends: Say you’re at a Rays game and you want to see if any of your friends are at the game. Checking-in is a quick way to canvas the area.
Meet new people: Imagine you’re at Starbucks and you check-in on Foursquare. You can see who else is there. If it’s someone you don’t know, you can see their profile. If they’re someone you want to meet, now you have a quick and easy conversation starter.
How can check-ins be of value to local Tampa businesses?
Free advertising: Yes, free advertising. When a customer checks-in to a business everyone within that customer’s social network can see where they checked in. That’s completely free advertising for your business.
Implied endorsement: Not only are you getting free advertising with check-ins, but you’re getting the implied endorsement of that customer. They are essentially saying that, “I like this place so much that I want others to see that I’m here.” What better recommendation could you ask for as a business owner?
Encourage check-ins: Business owners can encourage check-ins to take advantage of the free advertising and implied endorsements. They can ask and remind customers to check-in. They can also offer rewards for checking-in. Perhaps a restaurant offers a free appetizer when a customer has checked-in 3 times. Or perhaps a dentist offers 5% off their services for checking in.
In the end, it’s all about using marketing tools to push acquisition and retention of customers. That – and positive cash flow – is the lifeblood of businesses here in Tampa. When you can take advantage of something that takes so little time management and no real dollar investment, why wouldn’t you?
Locally, per the TBBJ article, Starbucks has 115 locations here in greater Tampa. Buffalo Wild Wings has 8 locations. Have you checked-in at one of these locations?
Read the original report from Mashable.com that outlines the national Top 10 list of Facebook check-ins at restaurants and other food establishments. According to the Mashable report, “Facebook stats show that when people check in, they let an average of 130 of their friends know.”
Wow – implied endorsement AND free advertising! What’s a business not to like about check-ins?