Geolocation is a fancy term for technology that can identify the location of your mobile phone and use it to provide a service– also called location services. Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Groupon, Opentable and Yelp all use geolocation. Even the standard camera on your mobile phone can use it. And since a mobile phone is typically glued to its owner’s palm (don’t deny it,) there is an abundant opportunity for new, revolutionary services to connect you and your clients.
If you doubt this is an important trend, perhaps because you think geolocation is a bit too Big Brotherish, just remember that it doesn’t matter what you think, only what your clients are doing. Smart phone users now regard their mobile devices as the most important way to access information, with more minutes spent browsing on mobile phones than on the web. This trend has been noticed by the industry with a rise in geolocation-based social networks and services targeted at your mobile phone. Even new search engines have popped up that focus only on mobile phones – do@ is one example.
If that hasn’t convinced you that mobile is the new big thing for local businesses, a study commissioned by Google in April 2011 showed that 79 percent of respondents were using smartphones to help with shopping, with 70 percent using them while in the store.
So what does that mean for you and your salon? It means there are new ways in which you can be found by prospective clients and encourage them to try your business. For example:
- Facebook allows you to offer deals through your Facebook Places page. These deals are promoted through the Facebook email platform and have social aspects to them including ‘liking’ the deal and seeing which friends have already bought it.
- Foursquare offers specials that focus on a variety of business objectives including loyalty or referrals. They’ve also started offering an ‘Explore’ feature that pulls up nearby businesses by category and lists those that have an offer running.
- While Yelp! isbest known for its reviews and ratings functionality, it hasn’t missed out on the geolocation fun. Ithas an ‘explore’ function like Foursquare and offers specials through its platform. It also has an expansive email database which it uses for specials.
- Groupon offers GrouponNOW, which shows deals in the local area and allows small businesses to do offers without going through a sales representative – much easier to implement and it’s based on where that person is NOW.
- Scvngr is a game-based application that offers specials to people who complete a challenge within a business. Beyond simply finding the business, there is a game added to the service, which will appeal to a lot of younger generations. So if you’re next to a college campus, be on the lookout for this one.
- Google Offers will work with Google Places.