Fifty-five per cent of people using location-based social networks (LBS)  like Foursquare and Gowalla are more open to trying out new restaurants that have been tipped by their friends, according to a recent survey conducted by Hill Holliday, a Boston-based communications agency. The study is based on responses to an online survey from 102 users of location-based social networks from across the United States.

Getting to read insider tips was cited as a key motivator for using LBSs by 58% of respondents.  It was second only to ‘earn social currency’ as a key motivator.

However, brands and venues should offer more deals to loyal customers, according the data. A whopping 82% of survey respondents said they want to see more brands offering deals and specials to loyal customers. In addition, a majority (55%) would also like to see brands leave their own tips for visitors to locations.

Respondents commented:

  • More rewards, sales and promotions for loyal customers. I am more likely to visit a store/restaurant more frequently if I am being rewarded for my continuous, loyal visits.
  • If more places that I regularly go offered special deals based on checking-in and being the mayor.
  • If the location I was in rewarded me more, expecially for loyalty of frequent visits to places that aren’t life necessities.
  • Certainly, if more outlets offered deals for those who check-in or for mayors, I would make a conscious effort to check in each time I go somewhere – or to even go somewhere I might not have gone otherwise.

What does this mean for owners and managers of bars, restaurants and other venue?

Clearly, users of LBS are an ethusiastic, vocal and quickly-growing group.  Brands should consider ways to kick-start and sustain a constant flow of fresh and rich tips – from both customers and direct from the brand itself.

Consider launching a loyalty initiative. More than four in five of survey respondents felt brands should offer more special deals and many indicated they would use their location-based social network even more if they are rewarded for their loyalty.  This is a huge opportunity for brands.