RFID technology 'allows retailers to harness social media like never before'

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New social networking solution uses RFID technology to connect businesses at physical locations with social media - to be exclusively previewed at next week's Retail Business Technology Expo.

Businesses can now gain control over the level of engagement they have with customers with the use of branded RFID cards which customers can swipe at their physical location to share their activity on Facebook (or other social channels).

Previously, the only way for brands operating in the physical domain to engage with their customers via social media was to create Facebook apps or Pages on which money is spent to drive traffic. Once users are engaged here, they share information with their friends about the app, not about their specific activities at the venue. LifeSynk effectively offers " a social media-based loyalty scheme allowing businesses to harness the power of word-of-mouth " by allowing customers to swipe their card at the physical location to unlock offers and share experiences with real-life examples.

How does it work for the customer? The customer obtains an RFID card which they link to their Facebook account in a single step on a brand's Facebook Page. They can then swipe this card at all outlets that have a LifeSynk terminal (which can be branded). When they swipe, the user can take advantage of offers, discounts or promotions as engineered by the brand through the LifeSynk system. Branded and contextual information is broadcast to the user's friends via Facebook (or other social channels), such as "I just received 20% off menswear at Gap".

In the same way that the Tesco Clubcard scheme works by monitoring customer activity to tailor offers, LifeSynk allows businesses to do this but across a social forum, so that all the customer's friends can see the benefits they are gaining from the brand.

The user is able to visit their own admin console to control permissions such as allowing wall posts, but more importantly they can view all the branded promotions that are available, thus allowing brands an effective platform to promote their campaigns.

How does the brand use it? The LifeSynk system is comprised of an RFID reader, small CPU computer, sound board, Wi-Fi connectivity and LED lights. Its only requirements are Wi-Fi connection and a power point.

A dashboard of rich features enables brands to set up campaigns and actions that occur when cards are swiped. They can customise the specific news feeds that appear on their customer's profile pages, and customers' activities can be tracked.

A number of functions can be assigned to each terminal allowing the brand to control what occurs when a user swipes. The LifeSynk terminals are virtually effortless for businesses: they are shipped with the Wi-Fi key programmed into the board, and start operating as soon as they are switched on. The server is automatically updated if newer versions of the software are found.

The brand has access to rich analytics showing locations, who swiped what, how many times, demographics and more. It even calculates how many people were shared to and the click rate, ultimately allowing businesses to track the number of customers drawn to the venue via the sharing and word-of-mouth of their friends.

Digital services such as Spotify are currently benefiting from integrating with Facebook because activity that's broadcast is immediate and relevant, driving traffic through shares.

How useful is this to brands? At present a user can check in to a venue, post a status update or Tweet about their experience, but the brand has to sit powerless without insight or influence over these conversations. With LifeSynk, brands can take control of conversations about themselves on social media.

In terms of security, LifeSynk is built on the back of Facebook. It stores no user accounts or personal information - all of this is via a Facebook app, so it is optimally secure using Facebook's own platform. There is no way to access a user's account without access to their Facebook account.

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