Location-based services are part of the hottest trends when it comes to local business marketing. Startups like Foursquare and Gowalla has enjoyed great reception and Facebook is trying to replicate their success with Facebook Places. This location-based application allows Facebook users to “check in” when they get to a brick and mortar store. Each “check in” is displayed on the user’s wall as well as in the news feeds of the user’s friends as well as the Place’s page.
This creates instant publicity for the store that the user has just visited. And this is not just any kind of promotion for the part of the local business. Because the publicity is generated by a real, live person it becomes a credible recommendation.
In order for a user to take advantage of Facebook Places, one has to have a web-enabled smartphone that will allow access to the Facebook mobile site and at the same time supports geo-location. A Facebook iPhone application has already been released and Facebook plans to have similar apps developed for Android and Blackberry phones.
Because merchants know about all the possible advantages that Facebook Places can bring to any local business, so many are willing to try out proactive ways to encourage Facebook users to “check in” to their physical stores. Entrepreneurs can give special discounts and freebies to customers who “check in”. Although this tactic is a great way to acquire new customers, giving incentives also increases the likelihood of getting repeat customers and encourage loyalty.
Another way to encourage customers to “check in” is through online promotions. This online campaign does not have to be expensive. In fact, as long as the business has a Facebook or Twitter account,they can use their profiles and pages to encourage customers to “check in” by promoting their Places.
In the past, most online activities where geared towards promoting only web-based businesses. However, with the advent of location-based marketing and deals of the day, local businesses are more able to harness the power of the internet to drive in more customers and increase their sales.
The publicity generated by each post generated after a user has “checked in” cannot be underestimated. A post is tantamount to a recommendation given to a friend or word-of-mouth advertising. And because customers are not being paid to “check in” and promote these local businesses, potential customers will find more credibility in each post.
Chris Marentis writes from experience about lead generation, closing the sale and leveraging social media. He is the founder and CEO for a local internet marketing company Surefire Social, a resource for local search marketing