I hope you are finding this series on moving into the online world helpful. Main Street and small town businesses can often be confused by the various technologies that are available to getting the word out to local customers-and deciding whether it’s worth it to fight the learning curve. It is! Just take it in small steps, one at a time.

Geo-local is a term you should familiarize yourself with.I’ve given you an overview here, but will hit some changes and updates in this post. DO read the other post! It gives you the basics of why this is so important.

In a nutshell, geo-local services work with 3G/4G mobile services to locate where you or your customers are instantly. This way you can target them where they are-literally. Sure, it’s a little sci-fi in nature but it’s got real current applications. Imagine driving to your home building superstore and “checking-in” on Foursquare, only to have a 20% off your entire purchase instantly delivered to your phone! That’s a useful service.

The most significant changes for geo-local since the original post was written is the focus that Facebook and Google are placing on it. Google has a new emphasis on location based services signified by this new patent, the move of it’s key search leader to geo-local development, and it’s focus on AdWords for mobile. Google is an obvious key player in this trend because of their far-reaching satellite mapping abilities. But they also know there is huge revenue potential.

Facebook is taking on the leader in geo-local networking, Foursquare, by offering the ability to “check-in” as part of their Facebook Places feature. This allows Facebook friends to find each other, but more importantly it helps advertisers and businesses to reach out to a customer where they are.

So what do you need to DO to take advantage of these services?

1. Make sure your Google Places listing is updated and accurate.

2. If you do not have a Facebook business account, get one and make sure the link to your Facebook page is prominent on your website. Then claim your Facebook Place like you did your Google here.

3. For now, register your business on Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp, three of the major players jeopardized by Facebook’s and Google’s power plays, but still viable.

4. Encourage your customers to check-in and be involved in leaving reviews. Reward them with coupons or develop a point system for check-ins.

5. To become savvy, be sure you are using these services as a consumer. This is the best way to understand the potential of location-based advertising.


by Steven Schlagel