If your business caters to local customers, then your marketing strategy should include methods of “getting found” online. Local marketing strategy has changed a lot since the days when our first marketing dollar went towards a display ad in the Yellow Pages.
Most younger consumers don’t even open the pages of that heavy yellow book anymore, if they even have one in their homes. They’re using the Internet to find local businesses and, frequently, using applications on their mobile devices to find what they need at the very moment that they need it. They are also more likely to look to see what their friends recommend by using local search apps like Yelp! and Foursquare. Most apps like these allow users to describe their experiences at local businesses to help others find the products and services that are most suited to their needs.
Not to be left out of the potential for advertising revenue, Facebook has jumped into the local search market with a feature called, “Nearby,” which has been getting enough traction for the Facebook development team to improve upon it.
What is Facebook Nearby?
Facebook Nearby was updated with new features, as described in the Facebook Newsroom on December 17, to allow Facebook users to find out what their friends have been doing in the local area. It relies upon Facebook users utilizing their Facebook mobile applications to “check in” to local businesses when they are there, “like” their pages, and recommend businesses if they want their friends to know about a good experience.
With the new features of Facebook Nearby, a user can open the Nearby tab on the apps menu of their mobile Facebook application and quickly see which local places their friends have checked into, recommended, or “liked.” Facebook users are encouraged to “check in” and share their experiences as they are out and about around town so that their friends can enjoy similar experiences at the locations they frequent so that Nearby becomes more personalized and a rich social feature of Facebook.
When Facebook users look for businesses on Nearby, the listings will be displayed in an order that is based on criteria such as the number of check-ins, recommendations, and likes, as well as the star ratings that users have given the business. Users can only give a rating for a business if they have checked in at that location.
How to Get Found on Facebook Nearby
Many local search mobile apps require a business to be manually listed to be included in a search from the app. On services such as Yelp!, people who are registered on the site can add a business and a business owner can then verify the information and improve upon the listing.
The major difference with Facebook Nearby is that it requires a local business to have a Facebook Page with the location specified. If you haven’t already created a Page on Facebook for your local business, now is the time to get one up there and take advantage of every feature and option to describe your business, its products and services, and, most importantly, your physical address and telephone number. Be sure to specify the category to improve the likelihood of your business coming up in local searches.
Keeping in mind that where your business appears in a search depends on the amount of social interaction it has received on Facebook, give some serious consideration to how you can get more of your customers to check in, like, and rate your business. You have to make it easy for them, or they won’t get and stay engaged.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Build awareness. Display the Facebook logo on printed material and signage. Make sure your Facebook URL is user-friendly so that customers can easily find your Page.
- Be technologically progressive. Create a QR code that links directly to your Facebook Page so that customers with mobile apps and the savvy to do so can scan the code to bring up your Page on their mobile devices.
- Ask, ask, ask! When you have made sure that your customers know that you have a Page and have made it easy for them to find it, you need to ask them to get involved. It could be as simple as including the phrase, “Like us on Facebook” wherever you display the Facebook logo, but you need to give them more of a reason to do so.
- Give them an incentive. Contests and sweepstakes can get the interest of your customers if your style of business is conducive to it. You might have an incentive to check in such as a free drink or beer cozy if you have a food and beverage establishment. Offer a discount on slow days to customers who check in and give a rating.
Find out what your competitors are doing and get to know your customers’ mobile search and social networking behaviors. Keep up with the trends and stay ahead of them whenever possible. There’s no getting around it. If your business depends on local customers coming in off the street to spend money at your establishment, you need to have a local search marketing strategy that includes Facebook Nearby.
An entrepreneur with an eye for good design and advocate of simplicity. He brings a fresh strategy and approach to every project and plays an integral role in clients’ accomplishments through collaboration and close integration. Through his hands-on experience in technology and marketing, he ensures user experiences and technology are on the leading edge.