Okay, we all know it; geolocation is now just making its way to the market like Twitter was a few years back. We also know, just like with Twitter, that businesses that choose to become early adopters will be at a major advantage when the masses decide to join in. If you’re just starting out and don’t know anything about geolocation services, then there is one primary thing you need to understand: They are applications that run on smartphones that mesh your city, your social life, and deals!
Foursquare, one of the household names is geosocial applications, allows businesses to give discounts/free items based on a user’s activity within its application. For example, the person who checks in the most at a location is dubbed “the Mayor” of that spot. This person might be rewarded with a coupon for a free side or drink, which they can redeem at the store (thus encouraging repeat visits).
The social media manager of a small, three-location chain of seafood restaurants in the Bay Area quickly realized Foursquare’s potential to attract customers. The business was already implementing social media tools like Facebook and Twitter but felt more could be done to connect with their customers. The restaurant decided to try out Foursquare. After all, what was there to lose? When Foursquare users opened the application within a few blocks of the restaurant, a special offer would be displayed on their phones: check-in five times and earn a free shrimp ceviche or a Hawaiian poke. Any customer that checked into the restaurant using Foursquare was rewarded with a free side of sweet potato fries. And now? More than 1,400 people have checked in at the restaurant’s locations more than 2,800 times. The social media manger of the business put it simply, “It keeps people coming back.” Bear in mind while the initial deal can be the lure, the upsell potential is what makes the deal even sweeter for the business.
Recently Foursquare announced that they would be entering the realm of daily deal services. Now, if users find a discounted item they want to buy, they’ll be able to do so from within the Foursquare app on their phone (through 3rd parties like LivingSocial and Gilt City). The deals offered to a Foursquare user depends on where that user checks in and what friends on the service are doing as well. But it’s not only Foursquare that businesses can utilize to bring in customers and encourage repeat spending. Both Yelp and Google have decided to also throw their hats into the daily deal arena. Yelp, the kingpin of online business reviews, has began offering Yelp Deals. Yelp’s popular mobile mobile apps, which already include check in specials, will now also feature a deals icon. When it is clicked on, you can see a list of nearby Yelp Deals for discounts at surrounding businesses of all types. As for Google? They’re currently testing out a beta of Google Offers in limited areas, which more or less takes aim at Groupon’s daily-deal model. Many have even speculated that it could be a “Groupon killer”. So what does this really tell us? Well, three of the Internet’s biggest game changers have started offering geolocation/daily deal services. It’s probably a good indicator that your business should start exploring some of these options as well!
Still not convinced that that this new wave in social media is right for your small business? Here are some things to consider:
• It costs business owners nothing to claim a listing so you’re really not at any kind of disadvantage by at least claiming your business’s page. When many company’s go to claim their page, they realize people have already been checking in and that they have been missing out on opportunities to reach customers and even respond to rants or raves.
• You can EASILY offer specials to both regular customers and prospective customers. Change the specials as much as you want. Set how often you want to allow users to receive rewards (every 5 check-ins). Also, you can save yourself some time and money by throwing away those old fashion punch cards.
• You get reports of who has checked-in at your location so you can see when your business is getting the most foot traffic, who is checking is frequently, and get a breakdown of who your customers are. Are you spotting loyalists? Reward them handsomely, and you create a brand advocate.
• It allows you to test out offers to customers. Most geosocial services, such as Foursquare, have reports where you can see which deals and terms customers are enjoying and using; pitch the ones that aren’t working and keep the ones that are.
• Daily deal services allow you to reach new customers you probably wouldn’t have been able to reach and gets them through your business’ front door. It also makes loyal customers happy because, hey, who doesn’t want a good deal? Is there a guarantee customers will come back? Not necessarily. But it gives you an opportunity to provide them with an enjoyable experience which will hopefully keep them coming back for more (perhaps with a few check in incentives to help out…) The good service is up to you, as is the “staying in touch” factor.
Remember, when you cut away the technology of geolocation services, daily deals, and smart phones, what you are really left with is a social network — a way for people to connect and share. These services are not limited to one role. They act as city guidebooks and rewards programs; business directories and customer-relationship tools. They help businesses like yours by rewarding loyal customers, offering coupons, and gathering useful data about consumers.