Sunday, March 21, 2010

Location Based Social Media and Safety for Women

I was reading an interesting post over at Social Media Examiner. It is about some emerging social media sites that undoubtedly shows where the next big social site will be, and where marketing dollars will go.

Two of the more popular sites included in the article included Foursquare and LoopT. These are both location based social media sites. They provide a great opportunity for businesses to offer deals and targeted promotions to their consumers.

Let me explain how it works from a users perspective:

I go to my favorite coffee shop. I "check- in" to Foursquare. Foursquare tells my friends and contacts where they can find me. I can leave a helpful "tip" about my favorite coffee show, like how wonderful their house blend is. I can also view tips left behind by other visitors of the coffee shop, which may tempt me into trying a different blend. I earn points every time I check into the place I visit. Those points can add up to earning me some badges. If I am a super loyal customer of my favorite coffee shop, and have the check-ins to prove it, I can become the mayor of the coffee shop, and if my coffee shop is hip, I'll get a freebie for that loyalty.

It's really pretty cool. I do have an account...but here is why I haven't used it very much. I'm afraid.

When I was a Radio DJ, I had a stalker. I had to go to court over this dangerous man. He went to prison. Ten years later, I was subpoenaed to be a witness on behalf of yet another woman. He remains there today, but I check for his status frequently.

While I am an avid user of social media, I am cautious about announcing my whereabouts.

I guess what I'm getting at is this, there are creeps out there! Heck, as a little girl, my mom preached about safety: "always lock your doors, always check your surroundings especially at night", etc. So broadcasting to people where I am at the exact moment I am there flies in the face of her advice!

I realize that with Foursquare I don't have to check-in at the exact time, BUT, by checking-in to my favorite places on a location based service every time I visit, might provide a pattern of where I frequent.

I don't want fear to leave me in the dust on emerging technology, so I'm using Foursquare with a different name. My settings are set to show phone number and address, no profile pic, no Facebook or Twitter links to point to my identity. All these safety precautions take a lot of the fun out of the process, but I just think it is the way to go.

I'd love to hear from other women to get your thoughts on how or if you are using location based social media. What do you think? Does it worry you? Please MARLYNNFORM me!

- Mary-Lynn

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