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For anyone not familiar, location-based applications allow users to find and “check in” at various spots and share that information with those in their network. There are standalone options like Foursquare, which dominates the field, and other platforms are trying to get into the game all the time. Another alternative is location features built into larger platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Beyond those are review sites that gather customer comments about the businesses they visit, such as Yelp. What can you do to capitalize on this hot trend?
To start, make sure your dealership is part of the action by making it possible for customers to check in on their mobile devices from your location. For Facebook, that simply means claiming your Place page and others that users may have created. You’ll need to create an account with Foursquare to claim your venue. Getlisted.org is a useful tool to help you find out where you’ve claimed your business’s entry and see other options where you can still do so.
If you’ve ever heard the expression “solomo” in reference to marketing (shorthand for “social, local and mobile”) then you know the third leg of this triangle is “mobile.” You’ll want to optimize your website to be easily explored on a mobile device, since that’s the tool most visitors will be using for location-based social media interaction. Ease of use can’t be underestimated as a tactic to enhance the experience and boost participation rates. You can also increase interaction by reminding visitors that they can check in with strategically placed signs around your dealership.
After that, you’re free to create special offers and experiences to encourage your visitors to check in from your dealership. These don’t have to be costly to work in your favor. It’s often the feeling of getting special treatment that’s more valuable than the actual worth of the freebie or experience. It can be as minimal as offering jelly doughnuts, a baseball cap or other small token to visitors who check in as they shop. Or you can go with something bigger and get creative with your offers. How about offering free floor mats to customers who check in and post a picture of themselves beaming beside their new car?
Anything you can come up with that lets people achieve a desired result (a badge in Foursquare, the coveted position of Mayor of your location, peer feedback on comments they make about your business…) for bringing attention to your dealership is going to be a win for you. The idea is to let your visitors inform or remind their friends and connections about your dealership. You are basically giving your customers the tools they need to make their friends and connections aware of your dealership. This allows you to reach an untapped market of potential customers for virtually no cost by transferring a significant portion of your marketing burden directly to your customers. What could be better?
The incredible amount of free exposure is a major plus, but what about drawbacks – are there any reasons to refrain from participation in the location craze? Not really. The fact is, it’s happening whether you like it or not. Customers can create place pages for your business by checking in and many no doubt will. People love checking in, sharing what they’re doing and adding their opinions on every aspect of the experience. Call it narcissistic navel gazing if you must, but it’s becoming standard practice as folks make their daily journeys around town. The best approach you can take is to get in the game and see that their experiences are positive, which translates to stellar reviews in the online space. You’ll be privy to valuable feedback about the perception of your dealership among the people who visit, putting you in the best possible position to make changes as you see fit or simply bask in the glow of a job well done.