Location-based applications have quickly emerged in 2010. Foursquare recently announced it passed the two million user mark. Its rate of growth has been astonishing, adding approximately 100,000 users per week and passing the one million user mark only three months ago. Competitors such as Brightkite and Gowalla have also all crossed the two million user threshold. Loopt is the current location-based application leader with over four million users.
Can Members of Congress take advantage of this? As August recess looms and the election draws near, I say yes.
Vulnerable Members have to demonstrate where in their district they have visited. By using a location-based application, Members can not only map where they have been, but use the application to promote upcoming events and interact with their constituents. By utilizing other social media tools such as Facebook or Twitter, Members can even solicit suggestions from their constituents on places to visit, eat or interact in the community. Location-based applications can even aid traditional media in following a Member around his or her district.
As far as which location-based application to use, it is tough to say. The market is still segmented and it may take another 6-12 months before one or two companies grab a majority of the market share. But by combining a location-based application with already existing social media tools as well as either the campaign or congressional website, Members of Congress will add an additional interactive element to their media portfolio.
Gowalla launched a new platform to let politicians mobilize constituents around campaign rallies, town hall meetings and community events. Candidates can brand their own “passport stamps” which supporters receive for attending events. Charlie Crist, Rick Perry and Jim Ward are the first three candidates to use the service.