Using a location-based social service such as FourSquare or Gowalla is not the way to go if you're hoping to attract a large number of customers, especially if they're women, according to a new survey. The numbers just aren’t there yet.

Location-based services offer an enticing opportunity for marketers to engage their targets in a more meaningful way, and research firm SNL Kagan said the usage of such services nearly tripled last year. Still, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, only 4 percent of online Americans participate in location-sharing services.

Unsurprising for a relatively new trend, younger respondents are more likely to be familiar with location-based services and more likely to use them, the survey found.

Privacy concerns remain a key barrier to usage, particularly among women. Most respondents to a Microsoft study in December — including men and women of all ages — said they were worried about a variety of privacy issues , including identity theft, stalking and harassment, SNL Kagan reported.
Women were significantly more worried than men across the board. Fully 77 percent of female respondents were concerned about stalking, for example, compared with 60 percent of men.

The difference in concern was reflected in usage patterns.

Two-thirds of all men and women between the ages of 18 and 34 said they were aware of these services, and nearly as many had used them. Within that age group, 70 percent of male respondents said they had used these services, while the figure for women was 64 percent.

By comparison, barely half (51 percent) of respondents 65 and older said they were aware of such services.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.