Social media is a key marketing tool for any business hoping to expand their customer base and increase brand awareness. For small businesses in particular, learning how to master this medium is essential in order to make the most of your time and resources.
As social media becomes increasingly mobile, the importance of geo-search and geo-location will continue to grow. Potential customers with geo-capable phones are quick to search out venues nearby. Tap into an interested audience and make sure they find you!
Start With Search
The ability to filter search results by proximity is truly one of the most valuable features of geo-location technologies. Let’s look at an example of how narrowing in on nearby messages can benefit you.
Imagine you’re a dentist in Seattle offering a new teeth-whitening service and you want to find an interested audience. There’s no use reaching out to someone who wants teeth whitening in Toronto if you’re on the West coast, and your time is too valuable to spend searching endless tweets and messages in hopes of finding someone nearby. So how do you narrow down the content?
Using HootSuite, it’s easy to search for terms like “dentist” and set the geo-location filter to an appropriate distance. Soon you’ll discover all messages (using this term) that are tagged in your area.
Be sure to try out different search terms. Use your business name and different industry-related words to paint a picture of the conversation around you. Save the search as a stream in HootSuite to effectively monitor and engage in the discussions within your community.
Get to Know the Locals
Once you’ve seen relevant messages from potential customers in your area, it’s simple to reach out and offer advice, promotions or just say “hello.” The real-time nature of geo-located tweets is perfect for making a good impression by answering questions or contributing to the conversation as it’s happening.
Geo is especially useful if you have promotions on. So someone looking for a dentist will be pleased to learn that you might also be offering a 2-for-1 cleaning package to new customers. You can also offer special perks to people playing geo-location games like Foursquare or Gowalla.
And be sure to append your own messages with your geo-location so potential customers can find you too.
Where to Find Geo
More and more businesses are becoming geo-aware. In order to expand, keep an eye out for anyone mentioning your brand, tagging your location, and reviewing your services so you can reach out to others who want to evangelize your business.
Here are just some of the popular options where you’ll find your friends and neighbors hanging out:
Twitter Locations allows you to add neighborhood or venue data to your Tweets using Twitter’s native geo. This is helpful to those searching for businesses in the area.
Foursquare is a fast-growing location-based game in which friends follow one another and check in to venues. Businesses can reward players for checking in with incentives and promotions.
Facebook Places updates your Facebook Wall, your News Feed, and the Place Page; plus there’s a “here now” option so you can see who else is at the same venue, too.
Gowalla allows you to share highlights from your day-to-day life with pictures, status updates, and more.
Yelp is a geo-aware consumer-review tool where customers can write recommendations for their favorite venues, and search for everything from hairdressers to grocery stores.
Remember, check-ins are highly visible, so friends and followers will see when someone has checked in at your location. Encourage your customers and clients to check in when they stop by.
And Whrrl is another game that goes beyond checking in to incorporate photos, status updates and will track check-in patterns to reveal new hot spots that users might enjoy.
Geo on the Go
Get to know geo while you’re on the go. As a consumer yourself, start engaging with the different geo-technologies available to learn how it all works, and see how others reach out and engage with you. This insider insight will help you to make the most out of geo for your growing business.
Dave Olson (@daveohoots) is the Community Marketing Director for social media dashboard maker HootSuite. Working in the Internet space since 1996, Dave was a partner is two successful ISPs plus he worked with start-ups including ecommerce software, open source Web development, and a green business directory. He frequently presents at events including SXSW and Northern Voice, and appears in the media discussing technology, art, hockey, and culture.