Mobile Check-In Marketing Tips for Local Businesses

Bea Halstead - May 8, 2012

Mobile Check-Ins have proven a very popular tool for social interaction.  By utilizing an API that combines a smart phone’s GPS cordinance with the social media channel CTA Check-In,  many users document where they shop, eat, entertain, and even work.  This ability to Check-In to a physical location can be easily rewarded, therefore adding a marketing element to a local address.  Business have already begun to reward members of Foursquare with discounts, free items, and exclusive specials by becoming Merchants and setting up marketing campaigns.   Foursquare is the primary source for Check-In marketing activity for local establishments, but does not have the largest audience in comparision to other social platforms. Let’s explore the larger social networks that include the Check-In API, to reveal marketing opportunities for local businesses using this location based functionality.

Facebook – Topping the charts for the largest social network with the most engaged users, Facebook Places is a fully integrated mobile and desktop feature the offers the ability to provide a location within any post.  These locations are also recorded on a user’s Timeline via a map that shows everywhere they have Checked-In.  If your business location has a Facebook Page, the Timeline keeps stats on the number of Check-ins for your business address just under the page name.  Increase activity with your Facebook Page by asking fans via posts to Check-In regularly. Offer a special discount to visitors who Check-In while checking out at the register.  You might even advertise the deal inside the business location or near the counter, to encourage new followers to your Page.

Twitter – This is the second largest network, and one of the most active audiences on mobile devices,  Twitter users have access to a feature that tweets their location when they post an update from their account.  Although the location services on Twitter will not associate your business name with the address, you can encourage fans to @mention your Twitter business profile – along with the Check-In location – for a prize.  This is great for businesses with multiple locations under the same brand name.  Each store can include a fun hash tag that is unique to their physical location to differentiate the tweets and make it a contest amoungst the locations. For example:  The promotional could be advertised for a month and include Tweet locations with @mentions/hash tags from all of the business locations, but the store with the most activity will get to host a discount day exclusive to their local patrons who participated in the contest and earned them the winning location.

Google Plus – Last, but far from least this social network is smaller that the other two, but the Check-In API is integrated into multiple Google products -like Places and Lattitude- that make it a powerful tool and could effect your organic search results.  Even if your business does not have a Google Plus Page, your physical address can be entered or recommended for Check-Ins and a post will be shared on the users profile with a map from Google Places.   Try taking a different marketing approach if you have a larger location with over 50 employees. Market this feature amoung your employees to gain access to a wider network of people and online activity by requesting that they each Check-In daily with their personal Google Plus accounts for one week to enter to win a reward.  Monitor the response to this increased activity, check to see if your website and business location had an increase of natural traffic due to the additional exposure.

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