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Social Media and the Small Business…Location Based Marketing, eh…..huh?

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

This is the third installment of Social Media and the Small Business, a series designed to educate the small business owner on the power of social media in today’s business world.

 

Location Based Marketing, eh…huh?

 

The Power of Geotagging for the Small Business

 

Location, Location, Location.  The old real-estate addage privides an entire lecture in three words (or one word now that I think about it).  Brick-and-mortar businesses grow around their location.  The better location beats the better product most of the time (Times Square vs. Main Street, USA).  In this new business climate dominated by social media, a concept is now emerging called “Geotagging.”   As A Matter of Fact, location based marketing is slowly redesigning “Location, Location, Location,” into “Tagging, Tagging, Tagging.”

Geotagging is the process of logging your gps location into a host of websites for the public to use as a type of yellow pages. For those who haven’t heard of Geotagging before there is quite a public following to them.  They are called “Lo-social” websites.  Flikr, Foursquare, Yelp, SCVNGR, Facebook, Google, Loopt  and Gowalla are a few websites that support Geotagging.  You may have heard of some of those, eh?

What’s in it for you?

From a business perspective, Geotagging makes perfect sense.  Every time people return to your business, they log in to, let’s say for the sake of conversation Foursquare.com, they tag that they were there.  Some companies reward the person who tags them the most (in foursquare they are entitled the “Mayor” of your business).  The Mayor receives discounts, services, gift cards, whatever you can dream up.  This will cause a stir between the Mayor and others who visit.  This is designed to promote more visits (or at least more tagging).  The more your business is tagged, the more competitive it gets with the Geotaggers and the greater following you will have.  This vicious circle repeats itself over and over and over again.

Some rewards are less monetary in value and more virtual, such as virtual “badges.”  These are given pretty much as bragging rights (e.g. first to tag, first to tag twenty times) that the public can have as status symbols on their profile.

SCVNGER.com puts a twist on their Geotagging philosophy.  They call themselves a game and instead of checking in, you have challenges to perform.  For instance just Geotagging your business may be worth a few points, but taking a picture with the manager, well that would be a larger number of points.  Singing the National Anthem….you get the idea.

There are a host of Lo-social sites right now. Is your business registered with them?

Flikr.com gives the option geotagging all photographs uploaded to it’s site.  Foursquare.com focuses it’s Geotagging community to a social network and provides some fantastic marketing opportunities. 

Lee Odden, in his online marketing blog www.toprankblog.com (that’s right, a blog), gives 17 tips for starting Location Based marketing campaigns.  One concept that hit me while I was reading through his article was the idea that your business may already be on those lists.  People may already be tagging your business and you don’t know it because you’ve never been exposed to the idea.

Another good read as you learn about Geotagging is Shane Snow’s article on Mashable.com.  Worth the click and five minute read. 

It would be wise to at least consider Geotagging sites as part of your social media strategy.  Their main advantage is they bring actual people into your actual business to spend some actual money.  In addition to the bottomline, customers can leave feedback of Lo-Social sites.  The feedback that you will receive from these sites can only help you understand your local public better, and in this economy gaining that feedback is not just a good idea, it is vital.

 

 

 

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Google+, Online Privacy, and a Street-Wise Public

September 5, 2011 2 comments


Two articles struck me this week.  Oh they are not new, in the social media world they are ancient history (weeks old!).  But they caught my eye and have messages worth repeating.  Eric Convey, managing editor of the Boston Business Journal, wrote an article on his blog  BBJ The Bottom Line entitled Google+ vs. Facebook, a verdict.  The article compares Google+ and Facebook and the most interesting part of the article centered on the inherant flaw in Facebook’s success.

The second article was prompted by the first.  I started to wonder exactly why people broadcast their hidden secrets and most embarrassing moments online.  Why do people seem to think their privacy is protected in social media?  The term “social media” itself implies that the people are going to see it.

First though…on to Mr. Convey’s article.

Eric Convey’s article caught my eye with a great title.  I searched for a reportable article for a good 20 minutes, sorting through all the noise out there in the ‘world wide web’.  I saw the word “verdict” in the title and clicked before a second thought.

Fortunately for me as a curious reader, Mr. Convey held to an objective comparison of what Google+ is trying to do, compared with what Facebook has already done.  He reviews what has turned Facebook into the Mocrosoft of social media.  Convey reviewed how effectively Facebook has connected people, “in a controlled environment.”

He also discussed how such a success has turned into Facebook’s largest weakness.   “If lore is correct,” wrote Convey, “numerous careers have sputtered after postings meant for friends were seen by bosses. Who doesn’t have an embarrassing photo from a college party that no doubt would have drawn howls from friends who long forgot the soiree, but scorn in certain professional circles?”

Google+ now enters the fray with it’s own take on the issue of separating information with it’s emphasis on circles.  Circles allow people to partition their online identities in a way that is more similar to real-world interactions.  People can separate their contacts into circles of interest, thus separating social, family, and work updates and notifications.

So, Google+ capitalizes on Facebook’s inherent flaw (or success, however you look at it).  The major problem Google+ has right now lies in numbers.  Facebook only has hundreds of millions of more accounts and many years of experience more than Google+.  Google+ has a lot of catching up to do.

Convey suggested, pit against each other on an even playing field, Google+ has the upper hand.  In the evolution of social media happening right in front of our eyes however there is no such thing as an equal playing field.

Now, on the blog The Modern Archivist, Elle Byrum delves into the question of privacy in social media.  Her article, “The Perils of Social Media” highlights Isaiah Lester, who won a $10.6 million wrongful death lawsuit he initiated in the death of his wife.  Two years after the lawsuit, Mr. Lester posted compromising pictures of him wearing a shirt that said “I [heart] Hot Moms.”  This started a chain reaction (trying to delete the photos obviously did not help) and now Mr. Lester stands in a position where his court victory could be reversed.

There is no privacy online.  Entire careers are made in archiving traffic online.  The fairytale of online privacy must dissolve into “streetwise” social media behavior.

I spent two years in Los Angeles, Calif. working with the less fortunate.  Most of my time was spent in the “jungle” (it’s common name) of south central Los Angeles.  At first the scenery and culture were completely foreign to this sub-urbian Oregonian.  After a few months of pounding the pavement and surviving the hazards of a low income urban environment, a sixth-sense developed.

By the time I left Calif. I could tell what streets were safe, what were dangerous, and when it was time to leave.  You see, in the evening the city shifted and some safe zones during the sunshine turned to crime centers by moonlight.

It is the same with social media.  It is a requirement that we develop an online sense of what is safe, what is not, and when that changes.  Today online scams and cyber-bullying damage so much more than stealing lunch money did in my youth.

So, this weeks emphasis is simple.  Social media is not going anywhere.  With Google+ jumping in to take on Facebook, our future is embedded in social media.  Social media is social.  It is not private media.  It wasn’t designed to be so.  It will take a new kind of “streetsmart” to understand how to manage social media.

What an exciting time to live, eh?