Just as businesses have started to grasp the etiquette of social media, up pops a new online player.
Geolocation is the identification of a person's geographic location using an Internet-enabled device, usually a cellphone. Using a variety of online services, people can enter their location and then find places to eat, stores to shop and friends to meet in that area.
Research firm Borrel predicts location-based mobile spending will reach $4 billion in 2015 — that's up 12,000 percent from $34 million in 2009. It's a phenomenon that offers fertile marketing opportunities for small businesses, including bakeries.
Two of the big-gest names in the geolocation game are Gowalla (200,000 users, 700,00 locations, available everywhere) and Foursquare (1 million users, available in 100 cities). Using the websites, people can “check in” to a certain location — be it a bar, a store or a bakery — and earn virtual rewards. Gowalla lists the 10 most frequent visitors of a location and how many times they've stopped by; on Foursquare, the user who checks into a place most frequently is named “mayor,” and earns points from the website. Many businesses offer freebies to their mayors as a way to reward loyalty. On both sites, users can share tips or information about a location — a recommendation for a bakery's cookies, for example — and also add descriptive tags, such as “open late” or “free Wi-Fi.”
Jonathan Carroll, Gowalla's community affairs and business development manager, says his site raises the bar Facebook and Twitter set for the marketing benefits of social media.
“It's really taking those services to the next level, as far as a local business reaching a neighborhood audience,” he explains. If a business promotes a special offer on Twitter, he says, only that business' followers see it. But if an owner adds his business to Gowalla and offers the same special, “they are suddenly reaching an audience that may have never seen their location, doesn't follow them on Twitter, and whose only exposure to [the business] may be that they opened Gowalla to look for a cool place to go with friends,” he adds.
Future customers are out there, and thanks to geolocation services, now bakeries can find out exactly where.
Get started with Gowalla
Modern Baking talked to Jonathan Carroll, Gowalla's community affairs and business development manager, about how bakeries can leverage the service.
JC: The first thing businesses should do is check if a spot has been created on Gowalla for their business. Often, a patron has already created the spot. Otherwise, the business owner creates the spot or asks us to. The description of the business is an integral step, and we receive dozens of emails from businesses asking for additions or tweaks to their Gowalla locations, and we're happy to help.
Adding website and Twitter info is a great next step, particularly the Twitter account; once this is integrated, the business will be alerted to each Gowalla check-in that a user posts to Twitter. An additional benefit businesses get from integrating Twitter is that when someone searches for spots online at Gowalla, all that information also is contained on their “homepage” within Gowalla, thus passing along any special deals, upcoming events, etc.
A number of businesses on Gowalla run check-in promotions, where the first check-in of the day gets a free lunch, etc. We are happy to work with businesses to raise awareness in-app, even if just [with] a simple text pop-up after check-in that announces the deal. One further step businesses can take is obtaining custom spot location icons to raise their profile in Gowalla.
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