Companies are taking advantage of the fact that people carry smartphones with them all the time by engaging in location-based marketing.
This new type of advertising allows business owners to engage directly and immediately with their consumers. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and Google have mastered this communication with features such as Facebook Places, location-enabled tweeting and Google Latitude.
We spoke with Laura Mignott and Sara Walker, founders of DigitalFlashNYC, a digital events and curated consultancy, as well as Lindsey Green, a partner at Kinda Sorta Media, a network of experts in digital media and entertainment, about how businesses should use location-based advertising.
The first thing you should know is that social media and digital advertising are not just a fads. While platforms may come and go, this form of communication and information gathering online is here to stay.
"People will always talk about your brand,” says Mignott. “There is no escaping that. You can’t stay under the radar so you have to accept the fact that you can’t completely control what others say about your brand. But you’re always better off having someone talking about you than not.”
“What makes these services so valuable is the exposure they bring and the ability they give you to be a part of the conversation in your given industry,” says Green. “Social media gives your company a dialogue that feels very real to patrons while also giving brands more exposure.”
But simply signing up and using location-based apps aren’t enough. It’s about how you use the services. The goal is to create a consistent message throughout multiple media so that you can build your brand on the web.
“You want to hear the same voice throughout the brand,” says Mignott. “You also want to keep updating, keep engaged and keep relevant. We are always posting what events we are at and other events to go to. We share tips and hot trends about digital marketing. There actually is a lot that can be said in 140 characters and in micro-bursts.”
Successful location-based marketing is a give-give partnership. You have to reach out to people if you want them to participate in your platforms.
“If you are making a lot of friends on these sites and have lot of followers, then try to follow back,” says Walker. “Friend their pages, become fans, and 'like' them. But do it based on their relevancy to your brand. Everyone likes to win in this community.”
And don’t just stick with the big apps that everyone is using; familiarize yourself with the new, lesser-known services to stay ahead of the game. DigitalFlashNYC recommends that their clients add FourSquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR and Yelp accounts in addition to Facebook and Twitter profiles.
Mignott and Walker also recommend using Pongr and Stickybits. “Pongr uses image recognition and Stickybits uses barcodes in mobile technology so you really experience the interaction of these program in your day-to-day life,” says Walker.
While some may find social media a marketing burden, these tools are helpful to you and allow you to connect with your audiences and access communities in ways you never could in the past. For example, FourSquare allows you to become a loyal part of another’s brand and help them build their operations.
“You become a real live advocate for the brand and then the brand is right there to say thanks,” says Mignott. “It seals my bond with the particular brand. I give my money and my voice, and they recognize it. We are becoming participants in brands in ways we weren’t before. 'Checking into' a place allows the brand to see you and say 'Hi, you’re here and here’s a discount just for showing up’ that is exclusive to you.”
“When you’re checked into a place other brands can see you are close by and suggest you come by and uncover their opportunities,” adds Walker. “It really gives you a serendipitous opportunities to find hidden gems that you otherwise don’t have time to find.”
And remember, developing a successful location-based marketing plan does not happen overnight; it takes a lot of work and time to manage the services.
“It's a full time job to use Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, etc., and to keep it all up to date, compelling and to see results,” says Green. “They don’t run themselves.”
So familiarize with all the great free tools that make all this technology less overwhelming. DigitalFlashNYC recommends Postling for managing all their social media accounts for their busy, on-the-go lifestyles.
“It is a perfect tool for a small business who wants to manage social media and only has five minutes a day to do it,” says Mignott. “You can schedule tweets and posts up to one month in advance, which then starts the conversation in advance.”
Also, embrace VIP customers. The bevy of blogs and bloggers expressing their passions for various brands has made it easier to find loyal customers and learn what they are thinking and saying.
“Search on Twitter to see what people are talking about. See what they are saying about your brand, and about what's relevant to your brand,” says Walker. “You can target those people directly.”
Listen to what everyone says about your brand. Consumers will be honest about what they do and do not like. To stay on top of the digital era, you must listen to these customers and pay attention to what they are saying so that you can evolve into a better company for them.