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Saturday, 11 September 2010

Geo-location is where it's at, but should financial services brands check-in?

An interesting video was uploaded by a French developer this week. In a few hours he'd developed a product called Track Dropper. This allowed users to leave musical 'treasure' for passers-by in specific locations. Do what? In simple terms you choose a music track from your mobile device and attach it to your location. Users who then pass that place in the future and are using the same software would be able to pick that track up, upload it to their mobile device and listen. Why's that of any use? Well it could be used by brands that have music as a core element of their strategy. So for O2, at the O2, or maybe for Diesel in their retail outlets, this could provide fantastic brand value.

Geo-location has been the building story of 2010. Since SXSW in March this year the fight has been on to win the geo-location battle. The main protagonists so far have been first Foursquare who has successfully built 2 million followers by tapping into the enthusiasm for gameplay. Users who 'check-in' are awarded points and badges while sharing their location with their friends. Second there's Gowalla who allow users to attach pictures and videos to locations for other users to pick up when they next check-in. Then on the horizon is the big beast Facebook with its Places product, with 100 million users updating on their mobiles, the opportunity for Places is absolutely monumental as people start to share their location on a huge scale.

But what are the implications for Financial Services brands. There's been plenty of chatter about location-based services, but that doesn't mean brands should really be worrying too much at the moment. There's a place for experimenting with some accounts as an individual, and/or setting up profiles for your organisation's locations, all these new services should be tested out to identify utility. But there's no pressing need to plough into it right now. There are some applications that we feel could work well for the insurance or mortgage lending space, but at present the services need to mature, add addtional richer layers of content and users need to start getting involved more deeply before location will have real impact. Already new services like SCVNGR are beginning to show what the future could be, with both gaming and content elements wrapped into the same application, and by linking with Facebook Places they are already gaining enormous amounts of followers. We'll be watching the space with interest as it expands.


Philip Calvert - Internet Marketing Expert for IFAs said...

At IFA Life we're fascinated by the potential of geo-location technology within Financial Services.

Most FS brands are scared stiff of social media as it is, and this will terrify many of them even more, but the relentless pressure on them to make themselves more relevant to today's Internet-savvy consumers will at some point bear fruit.

FS brands can no longer afford to ignore this stuff, and I for one am looking forward to a new wave of creativity within financial services marketing as a result of this new technology.

At the moment there is a lot of head scratching as to how geo-location networking could be used immediately, and for the time being it will probably be restricted to rewards for checking in at provider events etc.

Tools like Foursquare still only really support 'real' locations, but in due course they will almost certainly allow people to check in to URLs - and this in turn will unleash more creativity amongst marketers and creative agencies.

Services such as Whrrl are getting close to this with the ability to create 'Societies' or groups of common interest.

In short, this whole area of new media is growing very rapidly and it's very exciting as to just where it will all go.

Naturally, we will be exploring this whole topic at Social Media in Financial Services 2 this November - see

Great piece - thanks.

Philip Calvert
Founder of IFA Life and Social Media Marketing Speaker

Anonymous said...

Whilst I fully agree that FS industry is absolutely petrfied of social media (curious really for one that claims to be built on personal relationships!), and concepts like geo-locations services will send them scurrying for cover, I do think we need to take more notice of the possibilities.
Traditional FS product development and distribution has been about making is easy for the providers (the concept of developing products that match a customer need rather than ones that stack up from an actuarial perspective is relatively new to the industry (- just look at the 1000s of mortgage products that are only differentaited by small product tweeks).
Distribution has always had an intemediary in mind (i.e. the advisor). We now have to think in terms of other intermediaries, including the customer, the channel owner (media), the infrastructure owners (telcos), the gatekeepers (search) and the concept of crowds (social networks).

Within this new world order, I believe that there are opportunities right now for geo-location services in FS, but it will take brave and visionary FS companies to test, market, fail sometimes and truely exploit them.

Neeta Patel
LifeafterX (working title)
Twitter: @NeetaPatel

Philip Calvert - Internet Marketing Expert for IFAs said...

"...but it will take brave and visionary FS companies to test, market, fail sometimes and truely exploit them."

I couldn't agree more, and I don't think they have a choice either!

Every week, I have conversations with Providers of all decsriptions and they all say the same thing:

'We've been looking at social media for the last 18 months and we think it's something we really need to embrace. But - we don't know where to start, we haven't got the skills, we haven't got the resource - and we are terrified that people will say things about us in open forums.'

Clearly, a big change in mindset is needed - now.

Philip Calvert

Crispin Heath said...

Thanks for the comments Phil and Neeta,

To take up the mantle on providers being petrified, we always major on the listening piece first.

Typically, our approach consists of Listen, Map, Engage, then create your own presence.

Our clients tend to understand that process and it also helps to demystify what it's actually all about and makes it more manageable over time.

Listening though is of course always the cornerstone, which is funnily enough the subject of the next blog.

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