Much of this blog is about wine and social media. I go through Facebook, Twitter, blogs, social media monitoring, and various strategies. However there is a different perspective on all of this – the local perspective.
Local social media is simply social interaction around a particular location, usually a city.
- Location Based Services
- Your Local Blog
- Other People’s Local Blogs
- Local Review Sites
- Twitter Local Trends is only available for larger cities and entire countries.
- LinkedIn – advanced search
This post is an overview of what services you can use to boost your local results.
Now we’re gettin’ local: wine stores near Polk St, San Francisco:
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Location Based Services (LBS)
This can cover a plethora of different services including foursquare, Facebook Places and yelp.com.
Generally they provide:
- information about local businesses
- location on a map
- provide reviews and ratings
- accessible on iPhone and Android mobile phones.
The newer ones also:
- allow you to “check-in“
- share your check-in with your friends
- provide rewards/coupons for checking in
- deals and discounts.
Google Places is essentially local search and maps. It is so important for so many things it dominates a previous post I did about Local Search so please refer to that post. What’s Google Places? Watch this video:
Foursquare is a mobile application that lets you register at a location, see who else is there and share your location with your friends. There are numerous direct competitors including: Gowalla, Brightkite, MyTown, Loopt, and SCVNGR. But foursquare is the biggest.
Foursquare is more about:
- sharing your location with friends,
- participate in simple games usually by checking in and receiving a badge that appears on your public foursquare page
- gaining rewards for checking in
Facebook Places and Deals
Facebook Places is like foursquare. It works well in the Facebook mobile app and is probably more popular than foursquare given their user base. They also offer special deals for checking-in called Facebook Deals.
I think Facebook has a natural advantage in this space given it already connects friends by default, whereas the others have to build networks from scratch. The one to carefully watch (as always).
Yelp is more about reviews and ratings but has recently added “check-in” and deal functionality.
It also has a partnership with Google and if you look at Google Places you’ll see yelp dominate the results. But you’ll also need to track general ones others like judysbook.com, insiderpages.com, citysearch.com, and specialist ones like beeradvocate.com .
You can use social media monitoring to do this as well as checking out your Places page regularly, see this post for using social mention to track wine stores.
Here’s a video overview of Yelp:
Groupon is the newest and sexiest girl on the block. It combines local listings, with local discounts, mobile phones and social sharing.
And Google tried to buy it for $6 billion. No typo, that is US$6,000,000,000! It has confirmed revenue of about US$300 million and is growing rapidly. More about this service in future blog posts.
LBS First Steps
The best start to LBS is making sure you’ve not only claimed your Google Places listing but also made sure you’ve responded to any negative reviews that are outlined there.
I regard negative comments or reviews as an opportunity to show you at your best. By responding diplomatically you take the sting out of these reviews. Most people know life ain’t perfect and bad things happen, so with the right response you can sometimes turn a bad review in your favour.
Also make sure you’ve added links to all your social media accounts to Google Places – especially if they take a local perspective.
Next depends on you. You can choose to just make sure you respond to all the reviews and make sure your profiles in various services are filled out and correct. Then monitor them for any bad reviews using social media monitoring. I think you should at least do this, have a look at this review for example (store name is Xed out):
Don’t Bother! Go to a friendlier place!!! I’m one starring this atrocious place. With as many places to purchase wine in Chicago, you are sure to find a place more deserving of your dollars, especially in this economy. I talked to a miserable woman who was sarcastic, moody, and didn’t care in the least bit to help me. She sighed and “Ughed” every time I had a question or asked for a recommendation. She was especially frustrated that I inquired if they put bottles of wine in gift bags with notes (as most stores offer to wrap gifts), which after a final snarky comment, I decided to take my business elsewhere. Don’t give XXX any more undeserving dollars! Until they post that the wench of a woman working there was fired!
See what I mean. Bloody nightmare to leave that up without a response.
You could also start utilizing foursquare.
Only 4% of people currently use this service. But the few who do are passionate users and you should be able to drag them your way or at least encourage them to comment to their friends. The best way would be to set up a special as per the foursquare instructions.
Ideally you claim your business on all of them and monitor them for good and bad reviews. I’d also advertise on Yelp. Note I question whether Groupon deals work for wine stores as there is just not enough margin for discounting.
Your Local Blog
I’d suggest suburbs in large cities are the way to go, or for smaller cities choose the city name or zip code. It’s up to how your local customers refer the the general 2-20 mile area around your store.
To make your blog “local” ensure you have location keywords in your posts’ titles, headings and text. The natural way to do this is to write about your industry in your town. Or at least give local examples.
I’d also have your physical address in the footer of the blog and link it into your Google Places and Facebook Page. More of that soon.
My view is that you only write informative posts. Leave the sales talk to advertising and your webpages. Perhaps if its natural to include details about a promotion or a new service then that’s okay, but if you go all commercial on your audience you won’t get repeat traffic to your website. In effect you’ll come across as boring. And loud.
I also recommend attaching a WordPress blog to your website (or just use WordPress for your website and blog). If it’s part of the same website domain e.g. example.com/blog then Google will credit good blog posts to your whole website not just the blog.
It’s not just your blog…
Other People’s Blogs
Not everyone has to be a content creator. I kinda like writing so I blog. Other people like talking so they podcast, most people just read blogs.
However there are other types of social media persona that Charlene Li (co-author of the “Groundswell”) calls curators and commenters.
Curators “share” the best content about their industry using twitter, Facebook and social bookmarking services like digg. This is the easiest and quickest way to engage in social media.
Commentersadd insightful comments to the bottom of blog posts. “Great post!” ain’t goin’ to cut it. You have to add a helpful insightful comment, or diplomatic criticism. This is a good half way house between blogging and reading.
The key is to concentrate on local blogs. This way you get your name out there and build up credibility and personality with your blog posts. In fact even comment politely on your competitors blogs (I’d be very diplomatic and complementary if you did this).
Note that commenting doesn’t help your SEO (because they have something called a “nofollow” tag). But it will increase traffic to your site from wine enthusiasts if not from search engines.
Best of all is to do all of the above! But who has that amount of time…
Twitter has a field in Advanced Search called “Places“. This enables you to only show tweets from locals.
At a simple level this allows you to understand what potential customers are saying about you, your industry and your customers. Or they may ask questions you can answer.
At a more complex level you can retweet or comment on industry or local related tweets. The hope is that they’ll follow you. The best people to follow you are the key influencers in your town and industry. To see how influential a tweeter is, enter their twitter handle in Klout, see this post for more about wine and Klout.
Once you have followers you essentially have a modern form of a list. I would rarely send any promo tweets unless they were honest to goodness good deals they need to know about. 90% of your tweets should be informative or retweets.
If you want to send personal tweets, e.g. “I had eggs for breakfast” or “Sally and I had a fight”, then create a separate twitter account ;).
There is some commentary that people see LinkedIn as a job search service. Which it can be, but really it is social networking for business people where you can connect with potential partners and customers. I tend to use LinkedIn and for business contacts and my Facebook profile for personal contacts.
On a local level you can search for Business Contacts in the LinkedIn Advanced Search:
- Choose Country: US
- Postal code: your postal code (one code at a time) and/or
- Location: your area (this is down the bottom)
- Choose how close the relationship should be.
If you know them then invite them to “connect”. Each person you’re linked to brings their own connections so your network exponentially expands (a kind of Facebook friends of friends).
If there are (local) wine Groups (discussion forums around various topics) then join those to network as well as contribute to topics.
You can upgrade your account to get more visibility of LinkedIn members in order to build out your network. This is useful to search for local members of Groups you have joined.
Note I don’t think LinkedIn is really a place to tout for business directly but rather build business connections. You can also advertise which is completely acceptable unlike making pitches in LinkedIn discussion groups. Here’s what LinkedIn says:
The world wide web can be more effective when seen as a local narrow web where a tight focus on the most likely customers will generate more business than trying to connect with the whole world. Give it a try.
What are your top wine related local social media services? Please comment below.