Meebo Feature Allows Users to Check-in at Websites
NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Not tired of checking in yet? How about checking into a website?
Internet company Meebo plans to launch a new set of tools tomorrow that will allow users to "check-in" to websites as a way to drive loyalty and traffic, but also as a means to organize the web, according to CEO Seth Sternberg. Users checking into websites will be able to share the log of their visits with friends. "A lot of people have the feeling that their friends visit cooler websites than they do," he said. "I don't mean that's always the case, but it's helpful to see the sites your friends are visiting."
Meebo is already known for its Facebook and Twitter sharing tools that sit along the bottom of websites such as Hollywood Reporter and Slate. Users with existing accounts on those networks can share and syndicate content from publishers, but with this new check-in feature, the Mountain View-based company is looking to take a deeper step into the social networking space by asking interested users to create a profile specific to Meebo.
People can follow other users who've signed up with Meebo, much like Twitter, and they will see which websites they've visited. People who have frequently checked into a particular site can gain "VIP" status, underscoring the game mechanics typical of physical check-in services like Foursquare. But Mr. Sternberg said the purpose of awarding such status is more to define potential experts or brand loyalists around a website. Meebo users can message a VIP around a cycling website, for instance, who most likely would be an avid cyclist.
At the other end, publishers can create loyalty programs around regular visitors. Macy's has already signed on to employ Meebo's check-in platform, though it has no immediate plans to offer discounts or membership awards.
"It's just another way of us showing that we're embracing the social community and giving our site viewers or customers the opportunity to share with their friends what they're doing, their dislikes, their dislikes," said Martine Reardon, executive-VP of marketing for Macy's. "We're trying to understand our consumers better."
Ms. Reardon explained that driving traffic to its website can actually drive more in-store sales. "Every online dollar is worth $6 in the store," she said, pointing to the fact that consumers who buy online ultimately lead to bigger sales in stores. Macy's may eventually offer discounts to frequent visitors, but it has no immediate plans to do so.
The check-in platform will be open to publishers, according to Mr. Sternberg, adopting the "open" approach that drives much of today's web technology, meaning there is no upfront business plan around the new tool.
"First and foremost, let's just see how people are using it," he said, pointing to his belief that "good monetization happens after wide adoption."