Facebook has made geo-location a legitimate topic to discuss with the launch of Facebook places and access to over 500 million users. Location based services such as: Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, Yelp, Whrrl, Where, Brightkite, Loopt, MyTown and Tri-Out allow the 30% – 40% of Americans with a smartphone & GPS the ability to “check-in” to locations. They often also provide the option to publish your update to Facebook or Twitter. In fact, Facebook now sports a feature called Facebook places that integrates with many of these sites while also giving people the ability to check-in, right on Facebook.
So what does this have to do with sports teams? I’m not exactly sure but I have some thoughts.
There are two things that Geo-location apps have somewhat figured out: Badges/Rewards and building awareness.
Most geo-location applications have some form of incentive. There is often a game mechanism that allows you to unlock achievements, usually in the form of virtual badges. Businesses can choose to acknowledge these badges as a sign of loyalty and reward them. In the case of Professional Sports teams, sponsoring a Foursquare badge at $10,000–that’s what I’ve heard it costs–is a small cost. Even more cost effective is SCVNGR’s rewards system which is somewhere around $5,000 for credits that can be used and re-used over the course of a year to create rewards for completing challenges such as taking pictures, social check-ins and other unique challenges. So how could this be used?
- Create a sponsored Foursquare badge so hardcore fans can show off their team spirit.
- After 100 check-ins you get a special pin or 1 game seat upgrade.
- Group Buying: Create an incentive with a food partner vendor so that a certain number of check-ins could result in discounted food. For instance, make it $1 dog night at a baseball game on any night of the week if 10,000 people check-in. This would be similar to Groupon, just executed with location based apps.
- Use SCVNGRs social check-in feature to compete for “Ultimate Fans” status against other teams.
- Use SCVNGRs social check-in feature to unlock incentives with food vendor partners.
- First 50 check-ins to the game with seat numbers get to be on the jumbotron or TV.
- The number of check-ins an individual has could help them climb higher in the waiting list for playoff tickets.
One of the other great things about these location based apps for businesses is that they bring additional awareness to the location. For instance, when 345 people check-in to the Phillies game it becomes a trending location on Foursquare. So if I’m out at a restaurant and I check in on Foursquare, see the Phillies game trending, I might remember that the Phillies game is on and decide to watch it when I get home. It could be a way to generate additional TV viewers or at the very least, more conversation about the team on social networks.
Another idea is to use these Geo-Location applications to create a buzz:
Here’s my idea: Let’s use the The Phillie Phanatic as the example. Give that mascot a Foursquare account. Create an incentive for fans to follow the Phanatic; do a chase the Phanatic sweepstakes. Create a codeword that is posted on Foursquare with the Phanatic’s check-ins. When people find the Phaanatic and say the codeword, they get a special edition hat, or pin or even tickets. Do the same thing with the Sixers dancers or the Eagles cheerleaders or Swoop or whatever mascot or dancers your team has.
It keeps people involved and thinking about the team anywhere they are. Similar ideas could be to create a series of challenges on SCVNGR or places to check in on Foursquare that could earn a badge. In Philadelphia right now we have statues of the Phillie Phanatic all over the city. Maybe if someone checks-in to each location where the statue is they could win…I don’t know…something.
So that’s what I’ve got for Sports Teams and Geo-Location. What did I miss? Sound off in the comments.