Quick guide to using location based social media

Are you using mobile, location based social media? Is your favorite coffeehouse on Twitter, FourSquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla or others? Estimates on how many people are using these services vary, but no one disputes that the numbers are rising fast. Google has over 500 million users. FourSquare has over  1,000,000 users and that number is climbing fast! Google is obviously the giant, and as these companies
introduce more of this functionality, this concept is likely to be adopted by the masses.

Facebook’s recent addition of “Places” and “Deals” is likely to make location based social networking even more mainstream, especially now that it is offered on almost all smartphones (they introduced Blackberry
functionality last week).

How does this affect you as a consumer or a business owner? Whichever group you fall into, you should get in the game now! GAP recently gave away 10,000 pairs of jeans to people checking in on Facebook Places, and there are new specials popping up everywhere!

As a business, be sure you “claim” your business. There are numerous places where you can do this, but I would suggest you start with three:

1) Facebook Places. See instructions here: http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=18365 Once you claim your place, you can start to offer deals (see the example on a previous post).
2) Google Local: Your business likely shows up on google local searches, regardless of whether you have ever claimed it. If you ‘claim’ your business, it will allow you to add hours, photos and other information. This is a very easy way to increase your search engine optimization. http://www.google.com/local/add/analyticsSplashPage?pli=1
Google is also currently offering free promotional listings for businesses, where you can add a coupon for free (Google just introduced a new “yelp-like” service yesterday, so it appears they are looking to get in this game in a big way).
3) FourSquare. See this link to claim your business on FourSquare and find out how to post deals such as a free coffee for every 10th check-in: http://foursquare.com/businesses/

You may not see immediate returns on this, but I believe that localized social media is going to continue to grow very quickly, and each of the above steps is FREE. Remember that it takes more than just setting up a twitter account or a Facebook page. You need to ask the most important question, that is “Why should someone “follow,” “like,” or “check in?” Is it the deals you are offering? Is it simply to allow them to be a integral part of the community you are creating? You need to ensure you don’t fall into the “if you build it they will come” trap. Make it engaging. Make it personal. Keep your content fresh.

Good luck, and please post to the blog if you or your favorite java joint are offering specials using any of these applications: http://denvercoffee.blogspot.com/2010/11/coffee-houses-using-location

This is obviously just a quick synopsis of this topic. Please post your additional thoughts and opinions below!

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