Industry News | April 30, 2010

It's Like Foursquare—But Without the Mayor

With Foursquare grabbing headlines as the Next Big Thing in social media, another social application, PlacePop, is quietly establishing itself as a similar tool that could be just as, if not more, useful for quick serves.

Kent Lindstrom, CEO of PlacePop, says the tool operates more as a loyalty program than as a game like Foursquare.

“I founded the company PlacePop to focus on connecting people to places they go,” Lindstrom says. “What evolved over time, and it’s how these businesses all seem to work, is we realized in our focus groups consumers really wanted a way to show affinity to places they go.

“What they were telling us was, ‘Look, I go to these stores and restaurants all the time, if I could get a status there … that would be pretty cool.’ That’s essentially what we developed.”

PlacePop is both an iPhone application and a website. Users check in to businesses they visit using their iPhone, similar to Foursquare, and gain a status there based on frequency of visits: bronze, silver, gold, or platinum.

As opposed to Foursquare, where only one person can be the mayor of a location, Lindstrom says PlacePop’s status system is useful because anybody can carry any status.

“There’s no game involved, it’s just going straight for the affinity concept,” he says. “You check in, you get bronze, silver, or gold status, [and] that turns into rewards.”

Those rewards are delivered by businesses who can use the PlacePop website to send special deals to certain status members.

“On the website, the business can go and they can submit an offer right on the website—meaning, ‘I’ll give bronze members a free cup of coffee’ or whatever it is,” says Lindstrom, who was formerly the CEO of modern social media ancestor Friendster.

Businesses can also use the website to send more traditional local store marketing promotions to users, such as day-specific or act-now deals.

PlacePop also allows users to recommend deals to businesses, encouraging community throughout its membership and a closer relationship to the business.

Though PlacePop seems to be better suited to a retail concept like quick-service restaurants, Lindstrom says it could one day be used in places like the gym or airport. The data of where users go, he says, could be useful to the consumer.

“It has to work in all the venues, because you want people to have that concept of every time they walk into an area, they check in,” he says. “If you track that data, you can actually make a pretty interesting recommendation engine for people.”

By Sam Oches

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