Now that interest and enthusiasm for daily deals sites, such as Groupon, LivingSocial, and Google Offers have begun to wane, a new wave of social media of platforms lies in their wake. Location-based services, such as Yelp and Foursquare are being heavily targeted to small businesses as a way to increase sales and customer engagement.
But location-based social media is far from the holy grail model of small business success. To make it work, you need to approach it all with a solid strategy. Here are some tips to make location-based social media work for your business and not against it:
Know your business. Many small business owners learned the hard way that offering daily deals just wasn’t good for them and their business model. The same can be said of using location-based services to entice customers to patron your business. If you are constantly having to cut into your profit margins with discounts that don’t bring repeat business or you are unfamiliar with these platforms and are having a hard time eliciting user engagement and interest, then it may not be for you.
The bottom line here is that you need to be realistic regarding how well these kinds of services will fit into your business, how adept you can expect to be with them, and what kinds of offers and enticements you can comfortably support to drum up interest and sales.
Know your customers. Even if you know that you can comfortably carry out a savvy marketing campaign on Foursquare and the like, you have to make sure that your customers are the kinds of people who would use such services. If most of your customers aren’t there already, then don’t bother spending inordinate amounts of time and money trying to drag them there.
If they are on the network, then first spend some time learning how they use it and what is important to them.
Make it simple. Give customers who check-in a small reward for doing so, such as a discount or coupon, and maybe offer a different reward for customers who leave a recommendation for your business on the network. You can use this service like a loyalty program. Make sure your rewards are clear, meaning customers know what they are getting when they perform certain actions, and that you follow through.
Make it worth their while. This is extremely important… While you don’t want to break the bank with offers that are too costly, you still want to make sure that the reward is connected to the level of effort required to access it. And building on the last point above, make sure that you acknowledge and reward active users. These are the people who take the time to leave recommendations, upload photos of the business, or leave other “tips” to future customers. Having such people on board is extremely valuable to your business because they are helping you promote your products and services. Woo them!!! The worst thing you can do is totally ignore their efforts.
In short, using location-based social media platforms in your marketing mix, may or may not be right for your business. If you consider the points above, you can save yourself a whole lot of headache later on and money, too, and which small business owner doesn’t want that?