Yesterday I spent all day at the Local Social Summit 2009 in London. What a fantastic event with good input and many new thoughts.
One of the mayor discussions around local social was how you can integrate local and social in real time. Real time because everyone is speaking about Twitter and its real time search at the moment. However, we concluded that most SMEs don’t necessarily tap into the potential of social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. Mobile Marketing would have been a good solution for local businesses as I mentioned in my business idea posts a few weeks ago.
However, the problem I see is the attempt of integrating three factors into one for local search:
a) Local Search – this is important and there are a few very good portals that allow for local advertisers to be found and promote their services online. I believe a figure that was mentioned is around £5bn advertisement budget amongst all SMEs. Hence definitely a huge untapped potential. Google could encourage the use of Adwords but so far little local shops have tried to integrate paid search.
b) Social Media – the use of Twitter, Facebook, blogs or forums for local businesses is not as common, and most business owners do not think digital yet in order to promote their services. Hence it is a slow process to get your local butcher to tweet about the latest fresh sausages that are made or having a fan page on Facebook. But it will come. I see the use of Mobile Marketing much stronger, to advertise for instance the latest offers directly to the consumer whilst s/he is in town. How good would it be to get a short message or a tweet to your phone saying “offers at pub end of High Street, 2 for 1”?
c) Real Time – trying to integrate real time into local search is complicated and comes back to the factors of availability and whether it makes sense. Whilst it might be available due to Twitter and other social sites, I don’t really see a need in putting real time search on the high street. The only network I would like to tap into in real time are my friends who I am connected to via my Facebook or Tweets anyway. Or I can install a location based service on my phone that tells me where my friends currently are. But do I really need a real time search locally? I don’t think so.
So wrapping up, I think the focus for local companies should be around local search, being found in the directories, search engines and also to make noise on local business portals and in various digital channels, foremost mobile and then maybe a local Facebook site. But the key really is to engage with the locals when they are out and about. That is where local mobile search is coming in.
My two cents 🙂 Let me know what you think!