It pays to 'check in' at checkout
Social media apps offer consumers cost-saving incentives for 'checking in' and sharing their location online.
This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner siteSmartMoney.
The social network -- which lets users virtually "check in" to locations via their smartphone -- will offer the new deals as part of a redesign this July, according to The Wall Street Journal. Consumers might see different deals for being a regular, a first-timer or a former customer who hasn't been back recently.
But experts say consumers already have plenty of reasons to announce their location via Foursquare and other social media.
"More and more advertisers are realizing that this is the way to target consumers to give them something that they need at the exact point of time they need it most," says Jack Vonder Heide, the president of consulting firm Technology Briefing Centers. Spotting a coupon for a nearby sushi restaurant, for example, may sway you from dining at other options. (Post continues below video.)
Some offers intersect with established loyalty programs. Several hotel and airline programs award points or miles for checking in via Foursquare or Facebook. United, for example, offers 50 miles per check-in, and also sends out coupons for in-airport businesses and other local offers.
Others tie in with credit card deals. American Express has offered statement credits to consumers who spend with linked cards after checking in on Foursquare or Facebook, or tweeting with certain hashtags. Last month, customers shopping at a RedBox video kiosk were eligible to get $5 back on a purchase of $5 or more by tweeting with #AmexRedbox before they swiped their card.
Even without the personalization, one-off Foursquare deals can be valuable. In New York City, green apartment building The Helena recently offered consumers who checked in and signed a lease a credit of up to $1,000 for moving costs.
Of course, the creepy trade-off of taking advantage of such offers is that anyone who monitors your Foursquare profile, Facebook feed or Twitter account knows exactly where you are. "Obviously when you use that sort of deal and disclose your location, it announces to the world you're not at home," says Paul Stephens, the director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
As SmartMoney has previously reported, some criminals monitor accounts to find targets. The risk is greater when you're using the offers while on vacation -- which is clear because the check-in location is nowhere near your stated home base. That highlights that you'll be away for a long stretch of time, Stephens says.
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