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What is Driving Free Guest Wi-Fi?

by Sean Blanton on May 9, 2014

In the comments to my earlier blog post (Social Wi-Fi and Privacy: Keeping Balance in the Force), Dale Rapp correctly notes that brick and mortar stores can use social Wi-Fi and analytics as a way to compete with online commerce, where every click of the mouse is tracked and scrutinized.

It’s been my experience that many B&M stores begin their thinking on implementing Free Wi-Fi as simply for Free Wi-Fi’s sake – they recognize that their competitors are doing it and that more and more shoppers are using its presence as a deciding factor in where they spend their time; this creates the feeling of crap-we-need-to-do-this-too (and most people don’t like to feel that way).

New opportunities for engagement

Plain-vanilla Wi-Fi or social Wi-Fi? Savvy businesses pick social. Plain-vanilla Wi-Fi or social Wi-Fi? Savvy businesses pick social.

It’s the savvy groups that recognize that their network can provide more than just Free Guest Wi-Fi; it’s a new opportunity to communicate directly with their visitors, one that takes advantage of the latest technologies and behaviors of modern consumers – and that’s the whole idea behind Social Wi-Fi.

When print media, content and advertisements moved to the web there were certainly those that scoffed and felt that the old school was the good school. They never anticipated the world we live in now and many are struggling to adapt.

(For an in-depth discussion on benefits on in-store Wi-Fi and how the retail landscape is changing see: Free Wi-Fi is a Win for Retailers and Customers; and Showrooming Might Actually Be Good for Brick and Mortar Stores)

Loyalty programs are already growing rapidly and they exist to offer better and more exclusive promotions to members only – and consumers are more than willing to join for that exclusivity. I would not be surprised at all when the offers and specials we receive in our email become less about the offer itself and instead simply promote the new “Wi-Fi promotions” or “Members-Only promotions” that are available exclusively in-store and thus attract consumers to find out exactly what they can get. Of course the consumer ALWAYS has the choice to join in if they desire.

Is my friend list shared when I access social Wi-Fi?

On a separate note, I want to make sure that it’s clear that any data shared via AirTight Social Wi-Fi is specific only to the person who agrees to share it and has absolutely no connection to their friends on that particular social site. While we do have the ability to understand “Social Reach” by calculating the total number of friends or followers an individual has, we in no way make it available who those friends or followers actually are.

The only way I can know that is if that person makes their profile public or easily accessible by non-friends; in this case anyone can find out who their friends are and potentially share that data simply by logging into the social site itself. And I agree wholeheartedly in that regard – nobody wants their information shared without their permission.

Check out earlier posts on Social Wi-Fi, privacy and savvy ways both resellers and B&M establishments can benefit from treating Wi-Fi not as just plumbing, but as a business driver:

Have an opinion on Social Wi-Fi? Share it in the comments!

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Topics: Privacy, Retail