Have you ever heard of Yelp? What about Foursquare? Before you roll your eyes at those questions, let it sink in that there are nightclub owners and operators who would answer one or both of those questions “No.” There are people who are managing nightlife venues who have told Andre Kay that they’ve either never heard of those platforms or have never used them. Who is Andre Kay? He’s the founder and CEO of Sociallybuzz, a social media management, campaign and reputation company. Sociallybuzz provides the people and tools to help build, engage and grow your social media presence, create happy returning guests, and, of course, make more money.
Andre knows a thing or two about Facebook and Twitter management, but he also knows quite a bit about apps with geolocation capabilities. For instance, Foursquare, Yelp, Google+, Google My Business and Instagram are social media platforms that take advantage of geolocation and local searches. Today, you can’t afford to miss out on leveraging an incredibly telling statistic: 95% of mobile device users are performing local searches.
Here are 5 location-specific platforms you need to understand.
According to their own website, Foursquare has over 55 million active users, users who have racked up over 7 billion check-ins since the app’s creation in 2009 to August of 2015. The pertinent demographic breakdown reveals that 60% of the users are male, 40% are female and 40% of users are aged 18 to 29. More than just a check-in app, Foursquare users leave Tips (described by the platform as “public notes”) for one another about businesses they visit and check into. Worldwide, over 70 million Tips have been left by the platform’s community. Why is this statistic so important? Because of the following stat: 80% of Foursquare users have acted on tips that have been left by a fellow Foursquare user. It should come as no surprise since 2 out of 3 active Foursquare users will post tips about the locations where they tend to check-in regularly, helping one another make informed decisions about where to dine, drink and otherwise spend their time and money. The app also learns about their users’ interests through Tastes. These range from atmospheres users prefer to specific dishes they love to everything in between. By the way, pizza is the most popular Taste on Foursquare. More than 2 million businesses have claimed their locations in order to connect and engage with their guests (according to a Venuelabs finding in 2013). If you haven’t done the same, you should – if you don’t, a user will create your listing for you. To further maximize your usage of Foursquare:
- Take control of your listing. If there are multiple listings, claim the one with the most check-ins. Once you’ve claimed it, you can merge other listings that may exist.
- Update your information. As was already mentioned, users may have created listings for your business so that they can check in during visits. The information may not be accurate.
- Reward your guests with check-in specials.
- Use Foursquare’s free analytics to monitor your foot traffic.
- Highlight what’s great about your venue by posting Foursquare updates.
- Connect with loyal guests.
I know, I know… I used the “Y” word. I know that many of you reading this don’t care for Yelp, something we discussed earlier this month. To be honest, it doesn’t much matter whether you hate Yelp or love Yelp because there are over 120 million active users leaving and reading reviews via the platform. The fact is Yelp is word of mouth amplified and you need to see the opportunities it affords your business. Yelp allows you to engage with users who are, obviously, paying guests. It also allows you to leverage brand authenticity as you can respond to reviews while remaining true to your business’ online personality. With so many active users, Andre views Yelp as the platform with the most loyal participants. Additionally, there are powerful free tools for businesses available to you so you can track your metrics.
Now, one of the biggest points of contention when it comes to Yelp is the reviews. Yelp users are opinionated and vocal. Why else would they so actively post reviews? So, it’s important that you keep in mind these are humans with (often unpredictable) feelings when reading reviews. You also need to commit to responding to reviews, positive and negative. When it comes to positive reviews, your purpose should be simple: leaving a human thank you and letting the reviewer know you care. It isn’t about selling gift certificates, pushing your mailing lists, or sending out an event invite. If a positive review has a minor complaint, Andre says don’t respond to it. As you may have already guessed, Andre suggests taking a deep breath and thinking very carefully before replying to a negative review. However, just as critical as gathering yourself before dealing with a negative review is getting to it immediately. Negative reviews should be seen as sores: ignore them and they’ll fester, eventually infecting – and possibly killing – your business. When you’ve found a negative review and you’re ready to respond to it, keep it simple, acknowledge that the reviewer had a less than satisfactory experience, and note in your reply that you intend to contact them privately (via Yelp) to further discuss their issue. Again, cool heads will prevail: remember that once you post something to social media you can’t take it back. The following will help you maximize your use of Yelp:
- Just like other listing apps, unlock and update your business account.
- Message your guests (respond to reviews).
- Create a Yelp deal to turn visitors into paying guests.
- Keep in mind that reviewers are your paying guests and not just screen names.
- View business trends by measuring the performance of your business with the free analytics tools.
Google+ & Google My Business
In Adre’s opinion, Google is powerful in the arena of social media. After all, it feeds your listing to people conducting searches, both local searches and mobile. Google also feeds your information to other platforms. Additionally, when people have found you on Google, it’s because they were searching for your services, products, or even your competitors. That means that they were looking for you specifically. A staggering 97% of searches for local businesses occur online or via mobile – there is no escaping Google. Bearing that in mind, it’s imperative you do what it takes to increase your business’ SEO ranking. Create a Google+ business profile, optimize your website and individual pages, and take ownership of your Google My Business (formerly Google Places) listing. You must also:
- Improve your business information to become more discoverable.
- Connect with your guests through Google+ and Google My Business.
- Respond to reviews
Andre isn’t the only social media or marketing expert to point out that Instagram is fantastic for bars, nightclubs and restaurants, but it’s worth repeating. And the odds are that you’re already using it. Instagram is the best way to visualize your business, as Andre puts it. Since it’s likely your business has an active Instagram profile (and since we’ve discussed this platform’s value to the hospitality industry a few times), here are the Sociallybuzz CEO’s tips on maximizing your time on the app:
- Be true to your brand. Whatever you’re posting should relate to your brand, be it the images you choose to share, the captions you write, or your engagement with other users.
- Adhere to the 80-20 rule: Talk about things other than selling your business 80% of the time. After all, your images will sell your business for you.
- Share relevant, interesting experiences through photographs or videos.
- Find beauty everywhere when creating and liking posts.
- Inspire action. In this case, the action you want to inspire is users coming into your venue. You can accomplish this through the use of intriguing posts.
- Know your guests and audience.
- Use hashtags. The importance of hashtags in relation to Instagram cannot be overstated.
- Create fun contests and giveaways to engage users.
- Search for users who tag your location.