If fear of mastering another technology has kept you from investigating location-based social marketing, don't worry. Just think of it as listing your business in the local telephone book. With smartphones and location-based social networks, consumers can interact with friends based on their location. Restaurants, retailers, and other storefront businesses can take advantage of this technology in hopes of enticing nearby customers to walk through their doors. To create a plan so you can help cash in on location-based sales for your business, follow these steps:
Set your goals. Before you can start optimizing your business for location-based social marketing, decide what you want to accomplish with it. Goals can be everything from increasing foot traffic to your retail store or promoting a weekly sale item to bringing in new diners to your restaurant. The more specific you get with your goals, the more successful you'll likely be.
Learn the platforms. With those goals in mind, research how location-based marketing works. Most consumers use location-based applications on their smartphones and mobile devices to check in when they arrive at a place. This is done through Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which is built into most smartphones. Among the popular platforms are Foursquare© and Yelp. Once users check in, their friends can see where they are. At the same time, businesses can send offers to these potential customers when they're nearby.
Establish a presence. Since consumers can enter information about your business on many of these sites, you should check each location-based network and see that your business name, address, phone number and other details are listed correctly. Most of the networks allow businesses to claim their venues so you can fix erroneous information. Consider using a local submission tool, which makes it easy to distribute your business profile to multiple sites. To help build your presence, promote the fact that you are listed on various location-based networks—on your website, in emails, and on signage near your front door and cash registers. Integrate your location-based networking efforts with your other social accounts and activities by linking to one another and sharing information between channels.
Promote your business. With location-based social networks, use incentives to increase foot traffic to your establishment. Test and see what works for you. Tactics to consider:
For example, on Foursquare, you could offer an incentive to the Mayor of your establishment (the person who checks in the most). Then, make it a competition by telling everyone who follows your business that they can also work for the title.
Track your efforts. Many location-based networks have analytics dashboards to help you track results. Observe your followers' behavior. Have you noticed an increase in foot traffic to your retail establishment? What time of day is busiest? Ask store visitors what they like—or dislike—about your efforts. See if you can track an increase in sales from a specific promotion. Although you may not be able to measure any immediate return on investment, don't discount the brand exposure and increased awareness your business is receiving.
Use smartphones from AT&T so you can stay up to date on the latest location-based networking tools.