Location-based social apps may not be hitting home with as many consumers as marketers thought.

Location-based social apps may not be hitting home with as many consumers as marketers thought. In light of recent reports that location-based service foursquare has hit 2 million users worldwide and news about consistent updates to Twitter Places, marketers have been increasingly expressing interest in advertising on geo-social platforms. Now, recent findings from Forrester Research suggest businesses may want to wait before investing in the channel until social location tools expand their reach.

Just four out of 10 U.S. adult internet users have ever used a geo-social tool to track their locations and 84 percent have never even heard of the tools, according to the report relayed by Wired. While 4 percent of online adults have tried a location-based social service, only 1 percent use the tools more than once a week. The study indicates the majority of that 1 percent are young and male – which could mean marketing on the platform currently has value for businesses targeting that demographic.

Other marketers may want to hold off on investing in geo-social campaigns. “Most marketers should wait until they can get a bigger bang for their buck, when adoption rates increase and established players emerge from the fray,” the source quotes Forrester as saying. Still, officials at the research firm suggest the day may soon come when the geo-social tools are a viable channel for reaching a broader spectrum of consumers.

Analyst Melissa Parish carefully explains in the Forrester blog that the data indicates these services are still emerging. Moreover, she suggests that when the platform grows, the location-based social service users could be valuable brand advocates for businesses – geo-social app users are 38 percent more likely to claim they influence purchase decisions for friends and families. 

With recent reports that foursquare may soon power search engine results, chances are a larger audience will soon be familiar with the geo-social platform.  

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.