Using proximity-based social networks for business
Millions of times a day, people are checking in with Foursquare® to share where they are with the world. Its founder, Dennis Crowley, predicts that within three years, we’ll wonder how we ever lived without these types of proximity-based social networks. To find out how your business can take part and benefit from this type of fast-emerging technology, read on.Proximity-based social networks utilize GPS technology to allow users to connect, interact and share info with other users and businesses in the same proximity through smartphone applications. These networks are evolving to help businesses learn more about their customers and foster stronger connections with them by gathering and using information about their interests, demographics and shopping habits.

If you’re ready to integrate proximity-based social networking into your business model, here are some important tips.

Claim your listing
Make sure your business is registered on the main location apps such as Yelp®, Google Places®, Facebook® Places, etc. This not only allows you to claim your location so people can find you online; it’s also a free and easy way to optimize search engine rankings.

Share your social media plan with your staff
Your staff should be aware of your marketing efforts, and your social media strategy is no exception. Customer service suffers when your front-line employees are unaware of the latest deal your company is advertising on Foursquare or Facebook. If you put forth the effort to create specials, make sure you take the time to alert your staff as to what they are, how to redeem them, special terms or qualifications, etc.

It is also just as important to communicate to your customers that they can find you on proximity-based social networks. Consider printing
T-shirts or stickers that can be worn by employees with a message stating which networks you can be found on. Or alert your customers by displaying messages on promotional materials such as reusable totes, notepads or keychains.

Make sure your customers fit the profile
Not all customers will jump on board with proximity-based social networking. Look to engage those who are currently using Facebook, Foursquare and other apps that allow them to check-in at locations using their smartphones. Or, target customers who have expressed an interest in receiving special offers and discounts via their mobile devices. You may also have more success reaching those who classify themselves as early adopters or those who aren’t overly concerned about privacy; although proximity-based apps are entirely opt-in and do feature privacy controls.

Use your data to customize offers
Proximity-based social networking allows you to track consumer behaviour and instantly communicate with those who are in the area. This gives you a great opportunity to send tailored promotional messages, discounts, coupons and special offers to entice those who are close by to come to your store.

Analyze your data
Now that your business is utilizing proximity-based social networking to connect with, and gather information on its customers, you can begin to analyze the data. Most applications have free, analytical tools that can tell you:

  • who your most recent customers are
  • who your most frequent customers are
  • the gender of your customers
  • how many people checked-in to your business
  • the times of day people checked-in to your business

This information can be used to tailor special offers and even staff your business.

Finally, don’t forget to thank your best customers for their business. A simple handwritten thank-you note is a great way to let your customers know that they are important to you. You can go one step further and gift your most loyal patrons with chocolates or a gift box of cookies. Or fill a coffee house mug with the candy of your choice to express your gratitude.

Proximity-based social networks provide great opportunities to attract new customers and interact with the ones you have. By integrating these into your business plan while following best practices, you are sure to keep your customers happy, engaged and coming back for more.

“Foursquare.” Foursquare. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2012.

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/03/15/will-location-based-social-networks-be-the-next-fa/

Macdonald, Tracey. “Proximity-Based Social Networks.” BCS Call Processing. N.p., 22 Feb. 2012. Web. 12 June 2012.

“Lessons for Business in Proximity-based Social Networking.” Lessons for Business in Proximity-based Social Networking. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 June 2012.

Belicove, Mikal. “A Guide to Ambient Social Networking for Business Owners.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 27 Mar. 2012. Web. 12 June 2012.



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