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Poll: Readers skeptical on use of location-based social networks

SmartPulse — our weekly reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social-media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Are you currently using location-based social networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla or MyTown?

  • I haven’t started using them, and I don’t plan to.  43.84%
  • I haven’t started using them, but I’m interested. 25.36%
  • Yes, I regularly check in to places I go. 15.94%
  • I’m using them, but not frequently. 14.86%

I’m somewhat taken aback by the strong response from those who say they have no plan to use location-based social networks such as Foursquare or Gowalla. It causes me to wonder if the response is based on a lack of knowledge about their use in a business context, whether the respondents represent more of a business-to-business orientation, or whether it’s a lack of interest in newer forms of social networking altogether — or none of the above.

My take on these new platforms is that they can have great relevance for retail-oriented bricks-and-mortar businesses, and perhaps that’s stating the obvious. Less apparent are the soon-coming benefits to using geolocation, many of which have yet to be discerned. As participation increases and people adapt the use of  these apps to better suit their needs, I expect to see more benefits accrue, within the retail and business-to-business spaces.

As Daniel Ionescu puts it: “Facebook wants to know, ‘What’s on your mind?’ Twitter asks, ‘What’s happening?’ But that’s getting old already. The burning question for the next wave of social networking is, ‘Where are you?'” We don’t yet know the impact of that question on business, but I’m betting it’s significant.

Perhaps a good follow-up question to the one above should be, “What business benefits do you see location-based social networks providing?” Why don’t you go ahead and respond now by leaving a comment.

Paul Chaney is the Internet marketing director for Bizzuka, author of “The Digital Handshake,” and a member of the SmartBrief on Social Media Advisory Board.