Square Biz

Geolocation is the right direction for small firms

Foursquare isn’t the only geolocation platform, but it’s one of the best known. So what’s the allure for small businesses?

The technology—geotagging—allows the real-time identification of the real-world locations of an object (e.g., you), a mobile device, or an Internet-connected computer.

“Small businesses with brick-and-mortar locations benefit the most,” says Johnica Reed, founder of leisureStrategy, a digital strategy consultancy based in Washington, D.C. For example, restaurants can maximize the use of geolocation by offering specific discounts and advertising to attract prospective customers who are nearby. Web-based businesses and others without a physical location probably won’t benefit, Reed adds.

According to a Pew Research Center study released last November, only 4% of online American adults use location-based social media. However, Reed encourages businesses to get on the bandwagon because those people influence large circles. “Foursquare users are people who really love their neighborhoods, getting out and evangelizing the businesses they love,” she says. “Embracing foursquare and giving these tech leaders the tools to promote your business is just plain smart.”

Geolocation should be used across social media platforms. “If you have a foursquare special, you want to promote it on Facebook and Twitter,” Reed says. “Foursquare users are already cross-promoting your business for you, as most users’ foursquare check-ins appear on their Facebook and Twitter pages as well.” Business owners should also encourage customers to leave tips about their favorite products.

“It’s about more than specials and discounts,” Reed says. “Geolocation gives you access to consumer behavior—where they eat and shop [even] when they’re not spending their money with you.”

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