Whether it's big players like Foursquare inking a new loyalty rewards program with Pepsi, or niche developers like Untappd, addressing the beer drinking vertical with a mobile application that let's you spread the word about the particular brew you are sipping upon, check-ins are on fire.
In the interest of full disclosure, I work for a company with a new application called MOJO that provides free web-based check-ins. Instead of "checking in" at a restaurant or coffee shop via a mobile application, MOJO (and others) let you "check-in" to a particular piece of Web content (blog post, video, photo, graphical badge), and assign points and other rewards for an array of marketer-determined behaviors.
The Web side of the check-in space is far more interesting to me, and maybe it should be to you as well? Sure, Foursquare has 5 million users at last count, but as you read this sentence there are billions of Web users. That's a colossal potential audience advantage for Web check-ins.
Here's 6 more ways Web check-ins can benefit your brand:
My Blog is Alive!
OK, not literally, but perhaps adding gaming elements to your blog will bring it to life. While putting out consistent, high quality content is always going to be job number one, gamification of that content is a powerful way to boost engagement. And it's a lot more than just giving out some badges. Badging for the sake of badging is wasteful and annoying. However, utilizing a gamification platform and putting forethought behind how your readers can earn points AND what those points actually mean to them can be powerful.
Use tried and true marketing tactics that generate healthy competition amongst your readers. Think about incentives and the ways in which you'd like the masses to engage with your content. Then apply Web Check-Ins, badging, and points to drive that engagement.
Though deal of the day sites like Geeks.com are springing up everywhere, I believe a longer view approach to loyalty can be achieved via Web check-ins. Instead of issuing someone you have no connection with a deal you barely break even on, why not slowly and continually reward those who actively engage your brand on the social web? Via Web Check-ins, you can incrementally reward your best social advocates who consistently read and share your content. Using levels to distinguish your best advocates and delivering hyper-specific discounts, coupons, and relevant offerings to the elite social sharers within your flock is a really smart way to cement that brand "luv".
Tie Video to Written Content
If your brand is actively creating and publishing video content then you should be engaging Web check-ins to drive more views. At MOJO, we're using an "Easter Egg" style secret code check-in within the video itself to ensure folks are engaging with the videos. You can go through your library of past video content, and annotate your videos with a "secret code" and the re-release them as part of the overall gamification program.
Of course any new videos you produce should carry an "Easter Egg" as well. As a suggestion, place the "secret" code 3/4 or more through the video.
A New Revenue Model
Imagine the apparel and sneaker brand New Balance having the ability to drop custom badges into the top 30 blogs that cover wellness, running, and fitness. Take it a step further and think about what happens when you, as a reader of one of these blogs, receives a 10% discount New Balance badge and you're informed (right inside the badge itself) that if you LIKE New Balance on Facebook, the discount automatically doubles to 20%. This is a targeted, relevant, contextually appropriate promotional platform for brands, and a revenue sharing opportunity for publishers.
Link Link Link
It's nice when bloggers or brands team up and run similar content across several sites. It's fantastic for those who have the smaller audience of course, but there are big benefits (from an SEO and fresh eyeballs perspective) for all involved. Remember when Jay Baer (our C&C Overlord) recently participated in a 20+ blogger "Brand Haiku"? It was fun, comments were through the roof and I personally skipped around like a monkey-boy to a few other blogs I've never visited before. Lots of mutual wins in a program like that.
But, checking-In to the individual posts and getting prime sponsors to fork over some neat incentives for bouncing around the Internet could have made the impact even larger.
Drive the Social Actions You Covet
I mentioned above New Balance issuing a specific discount badge that auto nudges you to LIKE them on Facebook to receive a steeper discount. Tying strategic incentives to the social actions you desire can drive specific fan behavior such as Tweets with specific #hashtag use, Follows and Listing on Twitter, Likes & Shares on Facebook, blog comments and more.
People checking-in to your content is the beginning, driving secondary and tertiary actions that help your brand grow is where this gets powerful. Are you "buying" behaviors? Perhaps. But it's no different (and definitely more effective) than buying those same behaviors with closed-loop contests and promotions than have no gaming elements or life span.
At MOJO we're working on some of the above (and most of it already exists), ironing out some functionality and continually thinking about how gamification can be applied in new ways to drive what brands are after. Keep in mind if you are going to apply check-ins to your digital content, take the time it deserves and develop a plan. Design custom badges (it's easy), understand the actions you are attempting to solicit, put the right incentives in place and above all else, continue producing amazing content - as that is both the vehicle and the fuel that will accelerate your brand.