Location Aware Services from Facebook:
On August 18, 2010, Facebook launched Facebook Places. The feature allows users to announce their presence and proximity to specific geographical locations which they can select from a menu and communicate their status and coordinates only to their friends network. As the owner of a local business, you can subscribe to Facebook's location sensitive and context sensitive advertising service and target a highly select customer group. You also have the option to integrate Facebook Places with Facebook Deals another service from Facebook in which the power of group buying can be harnessed.
Google, on the other hand, provides a wealth of location aware services both through product integration and independent delivery. The bouquet of services is impressive:
As an advertiser on Google Adwords and on the Google Affiliate Network, you have the option to geo-target your advertising messages at both types of potential customers those who are detected through your IP and those who use GPS/GPRS enabled smart phones.
The Google Places API
The Google Public Location Badge
The "What's Nearby" function in Google Maps
Google's My Location
Geotagging Photos in Google Earth or Google Maps with Picasa
The location status facility in Google Talk or Gmail Chat
Location Aware Services and Twitter:
How can Twitter be far behind? Location-specific Tweets from Twitter leaders to Twitter followers is a sure shot reality today. For instance, UberTwitter is a popular Twitter client for BlackBerry cell phone users which can automatically update the location of your customers who own a Blackberry even if their BlackBerry phones do not support GPS. Simply use a Twitter aggregator to identify Tweets from potential customers near your location and engage them. Similar Twitter apps are available on the iPhone and Android platforms too.
In addition to Twitter, Facebook, Google and the other major search engines, all the leading mobile OS platforms including Android and iPhone provide apps that you can download and install on your GPS enabled smart phones. Apple, for instance, provides access to hundreds of iPhone apps all of which use location aware technologies to render customized services many of which may be of relevance to your business.
Leveraging Location Aware Services through independent Service Providers on the Worldwide Web:
Once you have arrived at a conscious decision to deploy the power of location aware services to promote your company, there is yet another avenue of options you can explore. Services that function independent of Google and Facebook such as Gowalla, Foursquare, Scvng, Whrrl and several online classified websites such as Yelp and YellowPages provide various levels of location aware services for advertisers. We urge you to check them out and obtain more information through the contact page of these companies.
The Live Chat and Location Aware Services Integration:
Tenuous as it may sound, integrating any type of customer service modality such as live chat software with location aware services isn’t as complicated as you think. Your initial round of advertising can, for instance, invite your target audience to engage in live chat with you by providing a direct link to a chat window in the advertising message itself. As soon as your live chat agents are alerted that a prospect is within close proximity of your business and wishes to chat with you, the nature and scope of the chat interchange can be fully customized to address specific customer needs. If you are a restaurant, tell them about your Special of the Day and invite them in. Offer them a 10% off if they walk in and display your location aware advertising message on their handsets. You can use live chat not only to generate sales but also to track your online advertising ROI. Your invitations and promotional offers can even go viral through live chat especially in situations where several members of the same Facebook Friends Network happen to be spread out in a single geographical location all of whom can be invited to your business if they happen to be checked in through Facebook Places. Live chat can work wonders when it comes to sorting out logistics such as providing directions to your business, parking spots, landmarks etc.
The time to "go local" in a big way has finally arrived. Google Places has help your potential customers to locate you. It's now time for you to use location aware services to locate them.