Whatser, the location-based service that lets users share their favorite locations with friends and discover new ones along the way, is flicking the monetization switch today.
It’s launching a ‘marketing platform’ in which local merchants and brands can ‘claim’ a location that they operate and then communicate with Whatser users who’ve already added that location to their collection. Special offers can then be pushed to these “fans”, thus building and rewarding customer loyalty. In a very thinly veiled swipe at Groupon, Whatser says its approach avoids the problem of “coupon-chasers” in which merchants are forced to slash prices for customers who may never return.
Similar to a lot of location-based services, Whatser enables users to build a collection of their favourite locations, share these collections with friends and discover new places based on their location and recommendations from their social graph. As of today, brands and local merchants can get in on the action.
The way it works is as follows: when a user adds a location (brand or merchant) to their collection, they will receive any relevant offers, promotions and updates that are available from that business, presuming of course that said business has signed up to the scheme. The offers can then in turn be shared by Whatser users so that they can still go viral, propagating across the social network. There’s also support for QR codes so that merchants can send out special offers that can be redeemed in store. To ‘claim’ a location and take advantage of the service, merchants pay €8.30 per-month.
Now the obvious question is how is this different from Facebook Places or Foursquare. And in some ways the model is the same. However, Whatser is purposely avoiding the check-in model, claiming that it’s anti-social. Instead, a user associates themselves with a brand or merchant that they are loyal to or recommend simply by adding it to their collection as a one-off requirement.