Companies That Track You with Social Media

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Last week, we reported that some businesses are using online coupons to find out more about you and your shopping habits. But it doesn’t stop there. Companies have also started to use smartphones and social media applications to track your moves even before you enter one of their stores.

The New York Times reports that several businesses are relying on Foursquare and Twitter, two social media tools that let users publicize their current location, in order to learn more about how customers really interact with their business. “Retailers can track when customers actually enter their stores. Such data can be used to learn things about store traffic, such as when men visit versus women. And it’s easier to note when the most loyal customers visit.”

Tasti-D-Lite, the popular ice cream chain, now lets customers earn loyalty points through Foursquare when they walk into one of their stores. The social technology officer for Tasti-D-Lite told the Times that this will allow the company to make “better marketing decisions.” But businesses aren’t just relying on social media platforms; they are also taking advantage of the built-in GPS systems that come with smartphones. Pepsi (Stock Quote: PEP) is introducing an iPhone app that will display the locations of stores that carry the drink on a map and then allow customers to earn loyalty points for visiting those loations. The points can then be used to download music.

It’s definitely a smart move for store owners, but what about for consumers? Do you feel comfortable being tracked by stores? Should there be a difference between letting  your friends use social media to find where you are and having a business do it? Let us know in the comments section.

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