The Geolocation Wave is Here. Is Your Small Business Ready?

Apr 11, 2010

By Dan Nieves

The growing number of online geolocation portals presents an excellent opportunity for small businesses to increase their local audience. Numerous social media platforms are adding location tagging applications, which can be a tremendous aid to small businesses looking to attract local customers. Let's take a look at a few social media outlets that could be a viable tool for your business:

Google Buzz
Buzz has many location-tagging options. Their Nearby mobile application allows users to read information and reviews about local places from others both in and out of their network. This can be a great way to get some extra word of mouth buzz! (no pun intended)

Users can now add their location to each of their tweets. Twitter has also begun to offer Local Trends, which can make Trending Topics geolocation-friendly. With local trends, users can set a specific location so that you can view trends in your area. For a small business, this can play a role in one of two ways: (1) it can help you identify current and potential customers in your area tweeting about your line of business and (2) a great way for customers in your neighborhood to find your business through your own tweets!

This new social media platform may be the pioneer of the geolocation wave. Foursquare users can share where they are with other users on the fly. If you are not familiar with Foursquare, or have no idea what it is, we suggest signing up and experimenting with it!

Local businesses are already running promotions exclusively through outlets such as Foursquare and Twitter. For example, the "mayor" of the restaurant, cafe or whatever the establishment may be gets 20% off their order, free drinks, or a free dessert. Businesses can also promote special deals on FourSquare for their loyal customers. A benefit to Foursquare is its ability to keep track of how many times a customer has visited your establishment or even how often they frequent your business. You can then use this data to create a Foursquare "customer loyalty" program to reward frequent visitors.

So What Does This Mean for Small Business?
The new wave of location based platforms takes the real-time world of social media one step further. Location tagging services open a number of new ways for small businesses to connect and engage their current customers as well as find new customers in their local areas. You want to make sure your business is prepared for the geolocation wave and can be easily found. For example, a great first step is to add your business to Google Maps. In addition, make sure your business takes advantage of the location services of Twitter, Google Buzz, and Foursquare. If you have no presence on these outlets, how can people find you?

As real-time becomes more and more popular, the need to have a strong and significant online presence becomes more vital for survival.