What’s Hot in Social Media

Guest blogger Lyn Mettler gives us the latest scoop in social media trends.

It seems every day in social media there’s some new tool you hear about from a friend or some new website you saw on Twitter or Facebook that you just must check out! With technology plowing ahead at an incredible pace it’s tough to stay on top of what’s worth looking into and what you should pass by, especially if you’re considering it as a marketing tool for your business.

Here’s two of the latest social media trends that, I believe, are worth a second glance for business and for fun:

1) Geo-Location
OK, that name sounds a bit technical, but it’s really a fancy word to describe services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and Loopt. I believe that these tools have the most potential of any marketing tool I’ve ever seen to actually drive business to a physical store, restaurant, attraction, etc.

These tools allow people to use their smartphones to “check in” at a particular location. You have friends on these services, just like you do on Facebook, and when you “check in,” all your friends see. You can also connect these services to Twitter and Facebook, so the message spreads even further. This is a free testimonial for the business where you’ve checked in. Much more powerful than a paid advertisement.

Even better, Foursquare allows you to create tips about a specific location that pop up for people when they check in there or somewhere nearby. Businesses can load in tips about events they are having at a particular location, or suggest people at a nearby venue head to their location for a walk, a drink or a special discount. Slow one day for lunch? Stick in a tip with your daily lunch special and offer a special discount to Foursquare users.

Finally, Foursquare and also Yelp’s new check-in service allow you to reap rewards for visiting a place more times than anyone else (you become the “mayor” on Foursquare) and for doing certain activities. For example, if you go to the gym 10x in one month, you receive the Gym Rat badge. This makes it fun and why Foursquare is now 2 million strong and growing at a rapid clip.

Last note on geo-location. Check out newcomer SCVNGR (http://www.scvngr.com). It’s a fun one that has “challenges” for you to do at a given location, and several of the big movies coming out like “Eat, Pray, Love” have created challenges related to the movie. Geo-location works because it’s fun by combining games with social networking.

2) Social Buying
Who doesn’t like to find a great deal, especially in this day and age? Well, hallelujah, someone has figured out how to combine discounts with social networking brilliantly. Social buying is the concept of leveraging large groups of people and the viral power of social media to secure a discount by promising the store or restaurant a certain level of business.

Groupon made its debut in Charleston this week and is already doing incredibly well. Groupon offers a daily deal by email to its subscribers in each city. A certain number of people must purchase the deal in order for everyone to get it. On Monday, they offered half off a $10 gift certificate at Five Loaves Café and required at least 20 people buy the deal. Guess how many people bought the deal? 775! That was day 1.

Another popular social buying site is Living Social, which also says it’s coming to Charleston soon. It offers a daily deal by email at up to 90% off. In addition, if someone who buys the deal can get three friends to buy it as well, they get the deal free.

If you’re a business who’s selling a service or product, consider these tools as a way to get your name out there. While Groupon, for example, takes half the sale, we have heard plenty of reports that although it’s not a big money maker, it’s a great way to build name recognition, and many participants report dramatically increased repeat business. For example, after the Fives Loaves deal, lots of people were talking on Twitter about going to use their gift certificate.

Caution though: Groupon has become so popular that if you decide to do a deal, make sure you can keep up with the business. Many a company has blown it by not being able to handle the load and providing bad customer service.

So there are two trends that are worth the time to explore and you bet can many more are on their way. Check out our website at www.stepaheadinc.com to stay on top of the social media news of the day and all the fun stuff coming down the pipeline.

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