As the web quickly becomes more mobile and social than ever, we see apps filling voids that were mostly left empty throughout the history of search and social media. People are increasingly sharing their locations with their friends, certain apps, certain sites, and even the world.
While sharing one's location can present its own set of dangers, as PleaseRobMe bluntly reminded everybody last week, people continue to share their locations and businesses have been, and will continue to take advantage of this. In fact, you might even say that this is becoming a major part of search marketing, and we're not just talking about Google (which of course has its own location-sharing/obtaining capabilities).
Simply sharing your location has simply become a way of sending out a generic query, and local businesses have some tremendous new opportunities as a result. WebProNews just spoke with RateItAll president Lawrence Coburn on this very topic out at the Online Marketing Summit in San Diego.
"The thing about Foursquare and Gowalla, and these check-in apps, is like, a single tap of your phone is a powerful piece of data. It creates a connection with the merchant (with a bar or a restaurant) that you're at," explains Coburn. "It tells your friends where you are, and then in the aggregate, it tells the services like Foursquare and Gowalla what places are hot. And then you can imagine, like a local coupon or a local ad network overlaid on top, where a business is having a slow Tuesday, and they can blast out to everybody in their neighborhood, and say 'hey, we're doing half off beers in our place RIGHT NOW,' and they can decide that on the fly, and reach a community that's right around them."
Now that's real-time local search marketing, and in fact a far more effective strategy of utilizing real-time search than simply getting into Google's ever-moving regular real-time web search results for a brief second. Potential customers sharing their locations means businesses can provide a real-time call-to-action to get them inside their establishment while they're nearby.
As Coburn notes, search marketers can utilize location with APIs. Foursquare and Gowalla both have APIs, for example, which means any developer can build stuff on top of those popular products.
He also recommends that if you're going to start building up content, to add a field to your database around lat/long (latitude/longitude). You can then deliver content based on that location information, whether it be news, deals, coupons, tips, recommendations, etc. When you can get to the user in a way that reflects right where they are (assuming they're willingly sharing this information), you can give them more relevant content, which is what search is all about.
For more on ways businesses can utilize the increasingly mobile, geo-ized world, read this recent WebProNews article.
Do you consider lociation-sharing to be a significant element of your marketing efforts? Discuss here.