This is a guest blog post written by Brian Honigman, the social media account manager at LunaMetrics. As a Google Analytics certified partner, LunaMetrics also specializes in social media, search engine optimization, and PPC. You can follow him on Twitter as @Brian_Honigman or @LunaMetrics.
B2B companies don't often see how location-based social platforms like Foursquare, Gowalla, SCVNGR, Facebook Places, or Google Places, can benefit them or their customers. However, there are a number of opportunities for these type of companies to market themselves using location-based apps; its just harder to identify the strategies that'll help draw the same results a B2C company would see using these social channels. Here are the 9 best B2B uses of checkin-based social platforms and some companies that are using them right.
1.) Claim Your Business
It may seem like a no-brainer, but many companies don't have their business listings claimed in Foursquare, Facebook Places, Google Places, or other widely used services. This is a missed opportunity for your business, regardless of industry. It's not required that you claim your location before someone is able to check-in, but your listing may be missing vital information like a phone number, web address, Twitter handle, or a physical address that users might be looking for. Claim your listings to ensure they're both branded and optimized at every location for the best experience every time someone decides to check-in, no matter the service they're using. All verification requires is a phone number or a bill to claim a location as your own. Unfortunately, this can be quite a tedious process if you have multiple locations.
2.) Add Foursquare Tips
Companies are now able to leave tips at various venues (physical locations) from their very own Foursquare page as their brand and not as an individual user. These tips will pop up on a user's mobile phone if a user checks in nearby or at the venue where your B2B left a tip. The tips generated by your B2B will appear on your Foursquare page for viewing on the Foursquare application on users' phones or desktops/laptops. Tips offer insights about a location that are helpful and will drive further recognition of your business. The key to applying Foursquare tips to a B2B is understanding where physical location factors into your sales funnel. Think long and hard: where will your customers (other businesses) see these tips and also find them relevant to the location and the products and services you offer?
For example, Barracuda Networks is a security, networking, and storage solutions company that provides most, if not all, of its services to other businesses. This B2B has started a promotional tour of the nation called the 2012 Velocity Tour to promote its product offerings. Barracuda is stopping at relevant conferences, hotels, restaurants, and other locations to spread the word about its business. This marketing tour is the perfect opportunity for Barracuda Networks to leave tips about its upcoming showing at the particular locations they are planning to stop and promote at. Leaving tips at the conference locations throughout the tour is the most beneficial because conferences often attract other businesses and tech-savvy individuals, giving them more opportunity for exposure on Foursquare. This could work for Barracuda Networks, because it is an easy addition to an existing marketing campaign. An important question for you is, how can you adapt to using Foursquare tips at physical locations so it makes sense for your B2B?
3.) Create Lists of Tips on Foursquare
Creating lists of your Foursquare tips allows you to group your tips based on a subject of your choice like a list of airports with Wi-Fi or restaurants with vegan options. B2B's can group their existing tips based on the nature of those tips. Lists of tips are beneficial because it helps users quickly see which tips are most applicable to them, while also allowing users to follow these grouping of tips for future additions to the list. Based on the example above, Barracuda Networks could group all the tips for its 2012 Velocity Tour into one list, separating it from other tips on its page. The creation of lists is up to you, as long as they're relevant to your B2B and truly benefit your audience based on how you’ve organized them. You can create a new list at https://foursquare.com/lists.
4.) Network at Conferences
Like we just discussed above, conferences are often an amazing networking opportunity for businesses to connect with other businesses and industry professionals. Many B2B's thrive when it comes to attending industry conferences for sales leads and more. Take your networking to the next level at these conferences, not just with tweets and posts on Facebook, but by also checking in and promoting yourself on Foursquare, Facebook Places, and SCVNGR. These services allow you to check in, alerting others on these networks that you're there and allowing you to post a message as well. It's one way to stand out from other conference attendees. Reach out to your audience, and let them know where your B2B can be found at the conference as well as what you're looking to accomplish while you're there. Do research on your own as well, by seeing who else has checked in and what they're messaging about. Comment on check-ins of relevance, and make lasting connections with other B2B's, potential customers, and other influencers.
5.) Check In With Clients
Whether you've got an existing network or you're starting from scratch on SCVNGR, Facebook Places, or Foursquare, showing your current and future friends/followers you're active is a vital way to increase buzz about your business. Check in at meetings with your clients, showing you’re involved in your industry and most importantly, thriving. Be sure not to share before the time is right with particular clients; simply practice common sense. To ensure the most exposure from these checkins, follow your employees, existing clients, potential clients, industry partners, competitors, and other B2Bs of interest to your business. They'll be more likely to follow you in return if you're active on the particular network, thus seeing where you've recently checked in.
6.) Explore Partnerships
Explore partnerships with other B2B's, B2C's, and nonprofits to promote a particular campaign that has a location-based component. This is an effective way to incorporate your branding into a service like Foursquare, even if your products or services wouldn't regularly fit the platform.
For example, American Express started partnerships with Sports Authority, H&M, and a handful of restaurants in New York City, offering a loyalty coupon. Through this campaign American Express uses Foursquare to draw customers to the physical stores of a few B2Cs, while increasing impressions of its brand and giving incentives to Foursquare users to use its services. In terms of your B2B, stop and think about what organizations would make sense to partner with on a local, state, or national level, and decide what benefit they would receive from a partnership of this nature.
7.) Conduct Market Research
When it comes to truly making long-lasting relationships with industry partners as well as existing and prospective clients, understanding their activity on every channel is key. Any information your sales team can gather about your market can aid in strengthening existing and future relationships. Monitoring where others check-in as well as the activities they complete on these location-based networks is more information to work with in the future. This research can help tell you which locations to leave Foursquare tips at, give you ideas for campaigns that will help engage your customers, understand which location-based networks your audience participates in, and keep yourself active on these networks to increase interest in your B2B.
8.) Do Competitive Analysis
9.) Lighten Up
One of the most important things you can do is have fun with whatever location-based social network you choose to utilize for your B2B. Social media should be a fun and engaging experience for your users, providing them with a true value from their engagement with your company, whether it's on Facebook Places or any other network. If you force participation from one of these communities, it'll come off as such. Work with what you know best: your company. Take what you do well and relate it to a common experience you share with your existing audience. Your strategy will resonate best if it's relevant, engaging, and most of all, rewarding to your audience.
How are you using location-based social networks in a B2B setting?
Originally published Feb 14, 2012 12:30:00 PM, updated March 21 2013