Social Media, Mobile & Summer:  A Local Business' Paradise

5/30/2013

- Danielle Leitch, Executive Vice President

So, you may be wondering what the connection is between Summer, iPhones and Facebook.  It's the bridge to success for many local businesses that depend on foot traffic and customers who make last-minute ("in-the-area") decisions for purchases, services or meals.  The warm weather in almost all parts of the United States this time of year, combined with high tourist rates these next few months, creates the perfect atmosphere for those in the Local market to capitalize.  This is especially true when it comes to services, restaurants and shops which are being searched for via Mobile devices, strictly based on a geographic location. 

Given the recent introduction of Facebook's Graph Search (in limited roll out), users can now see businesses in the category and region searched for, and also identify who in their network (friends) has visited and endorsed the business. They have brought the map and directory listings into the social sphere of consumer reviews.  Most of us would be more likely to visit a store or restaurant that one of our friends has spoken highly about, over another nearby option with no personal endorsement.  As a business, you will need to make sure your listing (on the Company Page) has accurate and complete information – phone number, address and hours of operation.

With the rapid growth of mobile devices in every demographic and regional market, the use of Mobile Apps is also on the rise.  As a result, Social Media usage continues to expand given the sophisticated apps most of these channels offer to iOS and Droid users. Many customers will "check-in" online when visiting business, via mobile/social platforms like FourSquare or Facebook.  Whenever a user checks-in online, this information (including the name and location of the business) is posted to the users news feed. This gives local businesses another way to be endorsed by customers, to their own networks, as well as "free" visibility.  On Facebook, an offshoot of Check-in is "Nearby", a mobile-only feature. It lets Smartphone users discover local businesses their friends have been talking about or checking into. Again, to participate - it's free - businesses need to update their listings and make sure operating hours, addresses and business categories are current.

Of course all of these tactics are dependant on a sound Social Media strategy - meaning one that can be managed and maintained.  There are numerous paid options in this channel to promote your company page and posts, gain followers or advertise your business/encourage mobile app downloads.  None of these are viable if you aren't capitalizing on the Organic options available at no charge to interact with customers, engage with the community and offer valuable insights or news.

Summer is here. Take full advantage of the customers out there just waiting to find you!

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