No Matter Where You Go, There You Are.
In the past couple years one of the biggest new trends in technology and social media is the integration of Geo-Social Networking and Location-based applications. Even though location-based technology has been around for a long time, it seems like every week a new player is joining into the game of location-based applications.
Some of the first sites to use this type of technology were simple geo-tagging applications like Google Maps, YouTube, and photo sharing sites like Flickr. These sites allowed people to group together things based on a shared location or community. Sites such as these paved the way for location based social networking communities such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, and numerous others.
With more and more websites, networks, and applications using these location based services. As a consumer you may be wondering, why should I be using these services?
Here are three reasons why you need to be using these services:
1. Network and relationship building
Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp all allow people to “check in” to locations and businesses. If a business or location is not there already, users are able to create a profile for one. By using this feature it lets other people see what you are doing and where you are located. This “check in” process creates a stream of content that contains all of your daily travels. Other people can then follow this stream and engage with you on items that relate to them. The more information you know about someone the more you get to know them. You can also follow other people’s travels to see where they are going and where they have been. If your friends are using this service as well, you can know where all of them are located in a city without ever making a single phone call.
As a business owner you can learn a lot of valuable insights about your customers by monitoring your brand presence across these mediums. You can identify your biggest supporters and people who are upset with your company. You can then engage with these people and make sure they continue to be supporters of your brand, or do all you can to correct the situation. As the old saying goes if you give somebody great service they will tell one person, but if you give somebody bad service they will tell ten people.
2. Learn more about a location
Now that you have met some people in the area and know of a few local businesses, you can rely on the community to get some information on them. These sites allow you to create reviews, tips, advice, recommendations, comparisons, and even “To Do Lists” within a location. If you visit a restaurant and it has the best chicken dish in the world, instead of keeping it to yourself, now you can share it with the world by posting it on one of these sites. The more you learn about a location or business the smarter you become as a consumer.
Reviews always mean more when you have a relationship with the person they are coming from. User generated content is the best source of this as it is more often than not unbiased and from real customers. However, this doesn’t mean it can’t come from the business. If you work to develop strong relationships with your customers they will trust you when you market them with information that is worthwhile and relative to them.
Even the History Channel is getting involved with location based services. They are launching a campaign with Foursquare that gives users a historic bit of information when they check in to certain locations. It is a good example of how these types of services can enrich a person’s overall experience within a location.
3. Promote your business by engaging with your customers
As a business owner you should look for incentives to bring people to your location. Gowalla and Foursquare both have competitive elements to them that track and reward users for visiting local businesses. You should take advantage of this marketing medium that is already developed for you and use it to motivate people to come to your business.
Whoever has the most “check ins” to a certain location becomes the Mayor of that location on Foursquare. You can offer a reward program to whoever is the current mayor of your location or whoever “checks in” over a certain threshold as a loyalty program.
When you notice people are checking into your location via Facebook and Twitter this gives you another chance to engage with the customer. You can offer these customers tips, advice, specials, information or promotions. This gives you an additional way to interact with them and ensure they had excellent experience at your location.
The more “check ins”, reviews, shouts, and mentions you have throughout your social networks the better it is for your search engine optimization. Google Maps and Bing Maps use Foursquare venues when people use the local search option. All of the tips, shouts, and reviews you gather are used as citations which search engines use in their rank algorithm which work to help increase your rank. This makes your business easier to find on search engines, which brings more customers to your door. So take advantage of these sites and use them to promote the activities of your business. Show the world how your location is different from all of the others.
For more information on ways to promote your business on Foursquare read the post “5 Ways to Use Foursquare for Business” by Kyle Lacy.
And remember, if you never go out, then you can’t go home.