New Tricks: 3 Ways News Organizations Can Leverage Location-Based Social Networks

February 8th, 2010

2010 really looks like the year of location-based social networks, and the news industry seems to agree. The Metro publishing group recently announced a partnership with Foursquare; once a site user says where they are (done via GPS), relevant articles from Metro’s Canadian papers will be pulled into the program, providing site users additional information about the neighborhoods, restaurants and stores near them.

While this move may make some waves for Metro, and may drive some incremental traffic to the Metro group of sites, some may question the move’s overall value for the news company.

Here are three additional ways news organizations — and the business units that support them — can leverage location-based social networks such as Foursquare to make money and drive some incremental traffic:

  • Highlight local landmarks, must-dos and other activities in a multimedia tour. Location-based services such as GoWalla and Foursquare were created, essentially, for social urban explorers: people who like to go to new places and tell others about their travels. Local news organizations can encourage their writers to create content about landmarks and partner with advertisers to create promotions and deals for tour goers along the way.
  • Drive SEO by encouraging local lifestyle writers to post links to reviews/articles on location pages. While not a location-based social network, Urbanspoon allows bloggers to link their restaurant reviews to restaurant pages through a special embed code. (Example here.) Social media leads at news organizations can encourage restaurant reviewers to post restaurant reviews as “tips” on venue pages, feature writers to link to pieces on local landmarks on those pages, and so on. Then, when site users check in to a certain location, they may click through to the newspaper article pages from the network venue pages.
  • Partner with location-based networks to become their sales force. If a local news organization were to show interest in Foursquare, it could become its local sales division, helping draw in new users, new deals and new locations. The quicker Foursquare, GoWalla or MyTown grow, the more likely that site is to become the location-based social network of the future.

- Daniel B. Honigman


How else can mainstream media organizations leverage location-based social networks in a way that makes them money? Please share your thoughts as a comment on this post!


Addendum: Foursquare has announced partnerships with Zagat, Warner Bros., HBO and ExploreChicago. No other news organizations have signed on with the service, but the partnerships, as reported by Mashable, are quite interesting.

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Entry Filed under: foursquare,future of media,Location,SEO,social media

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  • craignewman

    Another way for news orgs to tap into this trend is to adopt Foursquare, for instance, and a way to cultivate citizen journalist reports from street level. See something newsy happening? Check in and tell the world. An excellent source of granular, neighborhood stuff that would ordinarily fall through the cracks.
    News orgs could have some fun, too, with customized badges, perhaps? A “Jimmy Olson” badge for news photohounds. A “Woodward & Bernstein” for public official sightings. A “Stop the Presses!” for breaking news items.
    And, in addition to gaining a tip sheet, news orgs can add their two cents through tips by posting any story updates that end up getting reported out – or even just explain some of the events if the facts are foggy.
    Another use could be a “what's this?” checkin. As the urban explorers find various landmarks and the like that defy explanation, they can post a photo and either have the news org or other Foursquarers chime in on what we're seeing. Again, could be some fun badges associated with this for most new things found or explained or whatever.

  • Anonymous

    A couple of thoughts on how news orgs can make use of a Foursquare community:rnrnAN I-REPORT GOLDMINE: Having Foursquarers posting anything newsy going on at their checkins offers a granular look at the neighborhood level of everyday events that otherwise go uncovered. rnNews orgs can take advantage of this content stream as a tip sheet for larger events and contribute by posting tips that contain reported-out stories or explanations as to what happened.rnAnd there’s the potential for some fun badges: “Jimmy Olson” for 5 news photos submitted; “Woodward&Bernstein” for reports on public figures seen; “Stop the Presses” for breaking news items.rnrnWHAT THE HELL IS THAT: Speaking of explanations, there’s some potential to use a news org’s institutional knowledge of a city to explain what people are seeing as they check in places. If someone stumbles upon a unique landmark or street address or the like, they can pose a question on checking asking for explanation about what they’re seeing. News orgs – and other users – can then weigh in to explain what the area in question is. rnAgain, some badge potential for most new landmarks found or explained, etc.

  • Phil Novara

    Interesting you look at Geo-Location sites as mini sales forces. I like that. It's like street promotional teams, which is basically word of mouth based on location. Nice writeup:)

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  • Daniel_Honigman

    Like those badge ideas, Craig. Or an “aspiring politico” badge for people who check in to City Hall, the Federal Building, the County Building, etc.

    Also, news organizations with a robust UGC program can use badges/achievements to get more diverse/better content.

  • Daniel_Honigman

    Like those badge ideas, Craig. Or an “aspiring politico” badge for people who check in to City Hall, the Federal Building, the County Building, etc.

    Also, news organizations with a robust UGC program can use badges/achievements to get more diverse/better content.

  • Daniel_Honigman

    Thanks for the acknowledgment, Phil.

  • Alex Parker

    Great ideas, Craig. I had similar aspirations for our citizen journalists with the Chi-Town Daily News. Too bad we didn't know what Foursquare was way back in in aught nine.

    Actually, it might be a fun experiment to have urban scavenger hunts using Foursquare. News orgs and advertisers could have a field day with that.


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