• Location-Based Apps Based on Emotion

    Posted on by Richard

    Location-based mobile tools such as Foursquare are not yet considered mainstream social media channels. Still, Foursquare has nearly 10 million users world-wide, so it’s a marketing channel that businesses shouldn’t dismiss. Recently, I was speaking with a friend who uses Foursquare multiple times a day. I asked him why he uses it, and his answer was, “Funny you should ask. I ask myself that frequently, too.” Right then I knew I had the basis for our next blog post. I wanted to get answers to these questions:

    Why do people use check-in apps?

    • What motivates people to check in to a specific location?
    • Do the answers to these questions mean apps are good or bad for businesses?
    • Why do people use check-in apps like Foursquare?

    I asked ten people the questions listed above. This is obviously not a scientifically-conducted survey, but the answers are interesting nonetheless. As a marketer, I would have loved to hear people immediately say, “I use check-in apps because I love to find out what deals are offered by the businesses around me!” Alas, that was not the primary answer. Instead, the biggest motivating factor was actually emotion. People often gave different reasons for checking in somewhere, but almost all were based on an emotion. Here are some of the responses I received.


    • “I like the badges. They put a smile on my face.”
    • “I have this compelling urge to share with everyone…”
    • “It’s kind of like a game. It shows you a running tally of your points and who you’re about to pull ahead of and who you just beat.”
    • “…attention…”


    It seems many people like check-in tools because they connect them with other people and provide instant gratification, attention and excitement. Still, there were two people who said their primary use for check-in apps was to let a whole group know at one time when they had arrived at a meeting place. So, apparently there is also a utilitarian draw to check-in apps.

    What motivates a person to check into a certain location?


    Most people I spoke to said they don’t check in everywhere. So, I wanted to know what makes a place worthy of checking in. Once again, emotions played the biggest role in the decision. Here are a few answers I received:

    • “I check into places that people know of and care about.”
    • “I check into places I think other people will find cool.”
    • “By checking in, I get to share all the cool places I’m traveling around to.”
    • “I check in to places I want to be the mayor of.”


    The first three answers show a desire to connect with other people. The fourth answer referred to the competitive aspect of Foursquare, which provides the excitement of a game. These answers seem to indicate that some kind of emotion has motivated the person to check in.

    Do these emotional answers mean apps are good or bad for businesses?


    It should come as no surprise that people use an app like Foursquare primarily for fun and connecting with people. After all, that’s the original purpose: to be a social network. But if people don’t often list local deals as a reason for using Foursquare, is it worth offering a deal? Absolutely. If you are seeking foot traffic, you should still consider using location-based apps for mobile marketing. Why?

    • Deals provide you highly targeted marketing since you reach people that are just steps from your business.
    • Plus, deals provide excitement for a group of emotion-driven consumers that love instant gratification.

    There is also an SEO benefit to using apps like Foursquare. For more on that, check out, “Do Apps Like Foursquare Effect SEO?”


    So, tell us – do you use location-based apps? Why? And what makes a place check-in worthy for you?

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