Apps and gadgets have changed the way we live. Access to information has become so convenient that telephone directories, Rolodex and calling cards
We have embarked on an age where people substitute old-fashioned face-to-face conversations with instant messaging, social media, interactive chat, and other digital means. The traditional word-of-mouth, which is the oldest form of publicity, has gone digital too. People share, check-in and tweet their experiences and latest discoveries online. This movement spawned the term “SoLoMo” which is short for Social, Local and Mobile to describe how people search, review and share information about local businesses while on-the-move. As an effect, small businesses are left with no choice but to open up their digital doors and let the World Wide Web see inside.
SoLoMo in a Nutshell
SoLoMo is used on on-the-go devices like tablets, mobile phones or smartphones to search nearby establishments. This is made possible by apps like Foursquare, Google Maps and Tripadvisor, to name a few. It works like a regular search engine, but with the user's geographical location as a filter.
The birth of SoLoMo stemmed from the observation that man and his smart devices have formed a technological—and seemingly permanent—bond. It seems that wherever we go, we bring our smartphones. Understandably, since these devices are not called smart for nothing. It saves us a lot of trouble if we can scour an entire area’s business establishments without having to walk a single step. These apps not only give you a neighborhood overview but are loaded with helpful reviews from users like you.
What is a Local Search?
Searches that are more location-specific than simply entering a city’s name are local searches. For example: “yoga studios on Broadway” or “Vietnamese restaurant in the Mission District,” are examples of local searches.
Local searches were made simpler with the addition of GPS (Global Positioning System) to most smartphones. This made it possible for your device to know you’re where you are and match you up with nearby establishments from pet shops to pubs, tattoo shops to hair salons. Pretty smart, huh?
In addition to finding a stylist or a Singapore Sling in your area, this searchability is especially useful when you are living in a new neighborhood and need to know where the nearest hardware store is. Simply consult Google on your smartphone and type in “nearest hardware store” in the search field. This will bring up a map of your current location. You’d find a blue dot and several red balloon-like icons with letters in them. The blue dot represents your current location and the red balloon-like icons are the strings of hardware stores that are available in your neighborhood. You can find the approximate distance to each hardware store as well as phone number, website, directions and customer reviews.
That’s SoLoMo, in a nutshell.
The impact of SoLoMo to a business’ marketing plan is just beginning to be seen but the possibilities are promising. The majority of US-based mobile users is now more than 50% while more than 60% of those owners use their device for local searching. This increase is seen in the increased frequency of local check-ins and reviews.
You can do local searches using different smart devices. The analytics company comScore reports that there are more local searches done on smartphones than on tablet devices. Only about 13% of local searches are done via social media platforms. It makes sense that most local searches are done on phones. After all, you want this information on-the-go and it’s less likely that you have a tablet or a desktop computer in your back pocket.
SoLoMo Apps and Social Media
It’s an established fact that a mobile phone is the top choice of device for local searches. Now, what about the top SoLoMo app of choice? A survey has been conducted and Google Maps is reported to be the most widely used app in local searches for both mobile phone and tablet users. MapQuest and Apple Maps are the mid-level players in the SoLoMo app race while Yelp and Whitepages are reported to have low usage.
Social media giant Facebook emerged to be the second choice amongst mobile local searchers. The reports show that 67% of the local searches performed via social media, a whopping 92% happened on Facebook.
We are also witnessing the rise of hybrid apps that blend social media with geographic information such as Foursquare. These mixed-breeds integrate commercial information and social settings. It is believed that these mergers will continue to do well in the SoLoMo scene.
SoLoMo continues to facilitate the coming together of entrepreneurs and local patrons. This should be enough to drive a local business to step up to the plate as a customer review can positively or negatively impact local business. Customer reviews have become an important factor in deciding where people spend their money.
Because they rely on the reviews of others, people are more likely to regularly post their own reviews about their experiences, thus keeping the lines of communication open. Although, potential consumers are actively checking these reviews before making a trip to the store, a minor hiccup or two is not always a reason to drop the possibility of giving these establishments a chance. Studies show that some users still visited an establishment despite less-than-stellar reviews.
Making SoLoMo work for your business
SoLoMo pulls data from varying sources so businesses should ensure their presence on all major sites. A certain app may source their data from multiple review sites so it is important to have a strong internet presence across all sites to get your business on the map and pulled up on your prospective clients’ smartphone screen.
Google is the global leader of search engines. It has been said that most people use google.com as a test site to check if they are connected to the internet. Having said that, take our advice and create a Google+ profile for your business to get higher in your potential customer’s search results. Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are the next tier sites where your business must be represented.
As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your business information is up-to-date. If a prospect finds that your contact number, location, hours or website does not work or is out of service, it would reflect badly on your business and might prompt them to take their money to a competitor. You don’t want that, so make sure that your profile is correct and consistent across all sites.
A strong internet presence is essential in modern business, but entrepreneurs have to remind themselves that a good online reputation is equally important. What is presence if your reputation is ailing? SoLoMo is no longer a fleeting trend; it is going to be here for the long haul as it has found a comfortable camping spot in the world of e-commerce. SoLoMo is an online opportunity that extends beyond the confines of e-commerce. It is a golden opportunity for businesses to drive more foot traffic to their physical locations. It does not guarantee instant results but, as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. If your business consistently provides value and top-notch service, positioning yourself favorably in a SoLoMo world can only help your business.
We are a marketing firm dedicated to making small businesses shine online from desktop to mobile. To find out how we can help you without breaking the bank, visit www.prontomarketing.com