Few could imagine that when in 2007 Steve Jobs presented the Iphone that the way we experience the world would change so dramatically. Now, no one leaves their home without their smartphone, and forgetting it at home is probably people’s biggest nightmare. Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame finally arrived and people want to share with the world their location or post their pictures when they’re drinking the beloved beer after work.
But people also want to make themselves heard and their opinion matter like never before because everyone has a presence online, and that presence is big, in fact quite big.
Keeping this in mind and if you own a local business like a shop, a bar or a restaurant you should start paying some attention to a good few social networks. You should know what your customers are talking about you and take some advantage from it. Good or bad you must know what they say about you online.
1. Google Maps
No one travels with a map anymore, those days are over. If you pay attention to the tourists in your hometown, you easily realise that most of them (at least the ones without grey hair) will be using their phone to find they way through the city.
Google Maps has over one billion downloads on Google Play and it’s also the top downloaded app for Iphone. Is the most used map navigation tool on smartphones and is becoming more and more a social network where you add ratings and reviews to landmarks and businesses like bars or restaurants, which means that users can easily drop a review to your local business and that’s why you should keep your business’ info updated.
If your business is present on Maps it will be easier for potential customers to find you when they’re wondering on the streets of your city and navigating with this app.
There’s no need to write many lines about Facebook. Everyone knows it, everyone is there and is the most popular social network with over 1.28 billion active users in the world. If you do not have a Facebook page for your business yet, well… then you might have to get out from your cave, or if you own a personal profile instead of a page you’re doing it wrong. Delete it and create a page, you are missing too many good features.
Rather recently Facebook started to pay more attention to their pages for businesses and introduced more features for users. It’s quite easy now for any user to check in at your bar, review it and rate it from 1 to 5 stars.
In your end you can always have updated menus for your restaurant, opening hours and your map location. Make sure you keep a close eye on the reviews and reply to the negative ones promptly, remember that a bad review can put a potential customer away.
TripAdvisor is the 21st century’s tourist guide and it’s the world’s largest travel site. The facts are quite impressive and there are nearly 280 million unique monthly visitors, and more than 170 million reviews and opinions covering more than 4 million accommodations, restaurants, and attractions. Each minute there are added 100 contributions by users. There’s too much movement on this site for your business not to care about.
From the traveler’s point of view this is a must have app on their smartphone as it can be really a life saver by helping them to find good restaurant, or a last-minute vacant hotel to spend a night. The beauty of TripAdvisor is that your choices will be based on other’s ratings and reviews and not from any sort of tourist guide.
I can’t stress enough how important is to have good ratings and reviews in order that your business appears on the searching top lists when users are searching. A good thing about this site or app, is that you can choose what sort of reviews you want to read, meaning that I can have a look on the Excellent reviews or Terrible ones. As a user, it feels nice when I see the manager replying to the bad reviews to understand what went wrong. Make sure you do it.
Foursquare is a very interesting company that have reinvented themselves a couple of months ago. This app that has been around since 2009 and initially was basically a check in app that you could share to your followers or also on other social networks. Later on they’ve added the possibility to review the checked in places and this end up on a major decision by the company’s owners, since they have decided to split the two features into to two apps. Now you check in with Swarm and rate, review and look for establishments around your location with Foursquare. This decision was controversial amongst their users, but I personally think that Foursquare became a much more solid app with great features.
Foursquare has 45 million users, mostly younger generations, and with more than 40 million tips left.
When you first download and login to this app you will be asked what are your tastes like amongst a pre defined list by Foursquare, it is meant that based on these choices your search will be more personal. It is also meant that the app learns your ratings and give you choices based on that and your location.
As a business owner, once again rates and reviews are fundamental here, and if you read what I’ve wrote before, you now know what to do. A cool feature here is that you can also create Foursquare Specials, this is a good way to attract customers as you can give away freebies or discounts based on customer’s checks in. Be creative and fun and you can attract new customers.
Yelp is one of the oldest sites on its genre and was founded in 2004, unfortunately their website seems to be stuck in 2004 and clearly needs a refresh but their app works really well and the most important thing here is the content and their loyal reviewers.
There are 138 million Yelp visitors and more than 61 million reviews so there’s quite a lot of information, but most importantly there are a lots of people visiting and reading those reviews. Yelp is known by having very trusted reviews, mainly because has been around for quite a while and has loyal users, so it’s important that your business can be present in this social network.
Their app is rather basic but efficient, you search by type of establishment and location and make the decision on where to go based on what you read. A cool feature of this app is that there is a Talk Room where anyone can start a conversation. This feature can be useful to see what people might be recommending or news about any special event that might be happening nearby. As a business owner, keep an eye on the conversations, as you never know what you might learn about your city or your competitors.
This is a list of 5 fundamental apps that you as a business owner should be using and experimenting to take advantage of social networking. By shortening the gaps between your business and your customers you may soon realise how much useful your online presence can be. Use your imagination and think outside the box, most users of these platforms get very excited when they see something new and different.
If you are just a user, Foursquare and Yelp are the apps that I recommend for your next travels, they’re fun to explore and they can even offer some hidden gems that won’t appear on a tourist guide