Foursquare, beware—there is a new game in town, and with a sole focus on restaurants and bars, people may stop alerting the media when they get to a location as banal as the convenience store.
LoSo is a location-based social media app that competes with Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places in allowing people to brag about their real time location. By targeting eateries, however, LoSo has set up a customer rewards program that works in tandem with restaurant owners, so that both sides see a benefit.
“We’re putting everything in a one-stop solution for restaurants and bars, so they can do almost everything they’re doing on five or six other platforms at less than half the price they’re paying for those services,” LoSo creator Rich Rodgers explains.
Customers, used to updating statuses with a few swipes of their touch-screen phones, see one half of the mobile world. The business world is the other half, and Rodgers says LoSo has its feet firmly planted on both grounds.
“We’re kind of a split company,” he says. “We have the mobile app on one side, and on the restaurant and business side we have this incredible dashboard that does everything for restaurant owners.”
The dashboard is a controller that manages all aspects of social media: email marketing, Facebook pages, Tweets, and texts. It also allows restaurant owners to see people that are located within a two-mile radius and text them special offers and discounts.
“We’re the only app now that shows you Facebook, Twitter feeds, and what’s going on in restaurants around you in real time,” Rodgers says. “We show that on the app. Foursquare, Gowalla, and even Facebook Places don’t do that.”
He describes the app in terms of an advertising revolution. By checking in to a restaurant or bar, and alerting 300 Twitter followers and 500 Facebook friends, the restaurant gets free marketing without having to lift a finger. “It shows up on a friend’s news feed,” Rodgers says. “Maybe someone comments on it on your wall. Either way, there is more advertising every step of the way.”
As for customers, the rewards are plentiful: they receive discounts or free food from restaurants for loyalty; they can easily update their locations; by checking in, they can see if any friends are nearby; and they have access to the 300,000 events LoSo posts events each month, including happy hours, sporting events, concerts, and live music.
“We’re connected through our our smartphones now—the game has changed,” Rodgers says. “Think about it: ten years ago we didn’t even have WiFi. Now, everything is mobile.”
With the popularity of Facebook Places, Gowalla, and Foursquare, however, LoSo may be struggling to find a seat in a packed arena.
“We started in ’09, and at that time, there wasn’t much out there, in terms of what we were doing,” Rodgers says. “FourSquare was in its infancy.”
With Foursquare just passing the 10 million-follower mark earlier this year, Rodgers says there is still no clear frontrunner in the field of location-based social media. He says LoSo stands out because it uses real time unlike any other application.
“Mobile is a mindset,” he says. “If you’re doing anything on the mobile side, it has to be built around the idea of the here-and-now.”
By Sonya Chudgar