Location-based social networking services – including Facebook Places, foursquare, Gowalla and the Check-Ins feature on Yelp – are the next big thing when it comes to attracting consumer awareness online. So, can you turn “check ins” into opportunities to grow your business and increase customer loyalty?
At last week’s J.D. Power 2010 Automotive Internet Roundtable I moderated a panel on location-based services, which examined how automakers and dealerships are leveraging check-in services to attract new business and to reward loyal customers.
Joining me on the panel were representatives of both social media platforms as well as retailers that are using location-based services to promote their businesses. Contributing their expertise were:
- Doug Frisbie, Automotive Strategist, Facebook (@dougfrisbie); pictured below, seated on the right
- Eric Miltsch, Internet Director, Auction Direct USA and c0-creator of the CarZar app (@AuctionDirect, @emiltsch and @CarZar_app)
- Bill Pearson, Co-owner/GM, Finish Line Ford
- Luther Lowe, Business Outreach Manager, Yelp (@lutherlowe); pictured below, seated on the left
Topics covered during the session included ways that both automakers and dealerships are now using check-in services, what to do before getting started, how to get started, potential pitfalls and how to go beyond the check-in. The 2010 Automotive Internet Roundtable videos are now available online, if you would like to view the entire location-based services panel discussion.
A few interesting tidbits from the discussion:
—While having a special offer for service is a great way to reward your most loyal customers, it may benefit the dealership in other ways. “Our Mayor has bought one car from us and has referred three additional people to us in the past three months,” according to Miltsch. “We have had at least three actual sales from this so far and, most importantly, this is free.”
—Lowe is not drinking the LBS Kool-Aid. His point of view on location-based services? “If you’re giving your Mayor free floormats, but not responding to the 10 negative reviews on your Yelp listing, you’re doing it wrong.”
—For those who are looking to get started, Pearson suggests setting goals beforehand and having an understanding of what you are trying to accomplish.
—Frisbie predicted that, “In the near future, observing check-ins by your friends will become a primary way in which people discover local businesses.”
After the panel concluded, I checked all of the tweets tagged with #JDPAIRT to see which parts of the discussion resonated with the audience. Not surprisingly, the highly quotable Lowe’s advice to businesses to not aggressively solicit consumer reviews ignited a flurry of tweets. He thinks the soft sell — letting your customers know you are using location-based services by putting up signage or window clings — is more effective. Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments.
- J.D. Power 2010 Automotive Internet Roundtable; foursquare
- Location, location, location: The next big thing in social media marketing; SlideShare
- Video of the location-based services panel at the 2010 Automotive Internet Roundtable; J.D. Power
- Tweets tagged with #JDPAIRT; Twitter
- Location-based services: The hottest segment in social media; Headlightblog.com