Local + Social: The Future of Promotion

March 24, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

We’re back! And it’s time to talk about some local and social goodness.  Don’t tell anyone but these are often my most favorite sessions.  Up to help us out are Gregg Stewart, Dilip Venkatachari, Ryan Fritzky and Andrew Lovasz.

Up first is Gregg Stewart.  I like Gregg a whole bunch because he always throws out lots of great stats. Which I probably write every time he speaks.  But…I’m too delirious right now to remember. Anyway, here’s Gregg.

Each year his firm works with comScore to put together the Local Search Study.  What they’ve found is that consumers are increasingly using more sources to find local information and content.

  • 76 percent use search engines
  • 67 percent use a print YP or WP directory
  • 47 percent use local search sites

Places like Local Search & Mobile look like they’re sporting low numbers but their YOY growth is pretty impressive. Sadly, I missed the exactly numbers so you’ll just have to trust me on that. There was a chart and everything.Top Local and social sites – FourSquare and Yelp have experienced the highest growth rate in the last year.

  • Yelp – 317 percent growth
  • FourSquare – 1,569 percent growth
  • Facebook – 78 percent percent growth

How do social networkers find local business information:

  • 56 percent company page
  • 55 percent recommendations
  • 48 percent promotions
  • 43 percent ads
  • 42 percent references
  • 35 percent apps
  • 25 percent consumer reviews (reviews from people they don’t know)

Nearly half of social network searchers select a local business based off of consumer ratings and reviews.

Ratings and Reviews

Consumers ratings and reviews are found everywhere and are used by consumers to select the right business for them.  31 percent of social network searchers performer additional online research on another site.

49 percent of social networks are looking for

  • address/location
  • phone number
  • driving directions
  • hours

That means they’re looking for your BASIC business information so that they can come FIND you and BUY something. How accurate is your listing information out there? Do you know? If not…find out now.  Your consistency of listings powers everything you do in the social/local space. If you’re listings are misaligned, that misalignment confuses the hell out of the master sites like Google Places. The result is your listings are de-emphasized and you don’t rank.

Consumers are actively searching for a great deal; those searchers without a specific business in mind can be captured through promotions. He mentions Groupon, Facebook Deals. 48 percent of local info is found through promotions on social networking sites.   Local social media connects to each other and “ready to buy” consumers. 7 out of 10 social network searches goes on to make a purchase. These people are using ROBO (research online buy offline).

Tying it all together:

  • Make sure business listing data is visible, accurate and on all the main sites
  • Optimize these pages and listings where available to ensure your appear
  • Engage and capture users through promotions, coupons and discounts
  • Ask previous customers to help build your content
  • Monitor all local social sites and pages regularly for new posts, comments and reviews

Local business search on social sites will continue to grow. Your brand will be talked about as consumers continue to place more importance on consumer ratings and reviews. Join the conversation.

Next up is Ryan.

Over the last two years, with the combination of mobile applications and social media, we’re seeing the review evolve. People are spending less time on their PCS writing long reviews and instead are checking in, or leaving a tip or leaving a review while they’re still there.

Marchex did a study where they looked at 150 local businesses across categories and they found that 80 percent of the results are local and social sites with information about these businesses, not sites controlled by the business. The results are filled with opinions and reviews.

Make Word of Mouth Work For You

At first it seems scary. It seems like its all this information vs you. But at the end of the day, the businesses that see these things and platforms as real opportunities are the ones that see success.

Make sure you have a rich Google Place profile and a rich Yelp profile. They’re all going to end up in the search results for your business.

He shows a FB screenshot of a Nissan dealer in Alabama who takes photos of people when they buy a new car and then they ask for permission to tag the person in the photo.   This puts the dealer in customer’s friends news feeds. It’s like a free positive review.

What small businesses say:


  • We’ve linked a slowdown in business to a string of bad reviews
  • It’s usually employees or customers telling me about our reviews or mentions


  • Ask customers for reviews
  • Reply to reviews
  • Rely on push notifications


  • The Internet keeps adding to me to do list
  • Social media is the wave of the future


  • proud
  • overwhelmed
  • open

While we think about the Internet as making our lives easier, businesses look at it as an extra layer of complexity. But with that feeling, there’s also a resounding understanding that in order to be successful, social media is the wave of the future and they have to participate.

[Side note: I’m really impressed that I saw both Gregg and Ryan speak two weeks ago at SMX and they gave entirely different presentations even though the topics were related. No rehashing, FTW! ]

Next up is Dilip.

Social media usage is exploding.  People are highly expressive – liking things, commenting and retweeting things. The most interesting about that is the interactivity and the billions of messages being shared everyday. It provides a huge source of content from an analytics perspective. Search and social  media are people asking each other questions. More than half of US shoppers check Facebook, Twitter before they buy, often before they search.

Merchant and Advertiser Problem

  • Search activity migrating to new channels
  • Traditional targeting tools ineffective on social
  • Complex mix of interactive options

How do you identify and convert social “searchers”?   Through precision ad targeting.

Short Case Study:

Client: Local Shopping Service

Objective: Generate high quality local leads from social

Compass Labs solution: Identify searchers from major social networks, classify product they’re interested in, figure out where they live and drive them to a specific landing page.

They were able to drive traffic to the site.  They were able to deliver 3x the standard conversion rate because of social media

Delivering Conversions On Social Media Lessons

  • Who matters – it’s not just a robotic searcher, it’s a human behind.
  • When – timing is everything, influence, frequency.  You have ONE shot to get someone.  Pick the right time to engage with them.
  • Why/Which – Micro-target, remember the sales funnel. You can shape the message differently depending on the person. They found the types of creatives that work with older generations did not work with the younger demographic. Well, yes.  Older people respond better to pictures, while younger people requires facts. [That’s because old people no longer have the eye sight to read. What? DON’T HIT ME, OLD PEOPLE!]

Next up is Andrew. He’s going to talk about some stuff they’ve seen through Hilton Worldwide.  Hmm, is that like product placement because we ARE in a Hilton right now? My mind is melted.

Local Extensions

Location Business Ads

  • Predecessor to Local Extensions
  • Separate auction and interface
  • Low product penetration, kept prices low
  • Advertisers who had LBA’s tried to hold on for as long as possible

Location Extensions – merges all the extensions into the main ad interface. It’s much easier to participate in than LBA’s. One auction for all local products. Large degree of customization like tracking of Web site links and search locations. You can do much more granular tracking.  In spite of the ease of use, they were expecting a larger stampede toward this product.  But that didn’t happen. Andrew seems to really like it though and encourages people to use it.

Phone Numbers: Another extension available offer the ability to place phone numbers in ads.  Best practice – use a unique phone number and track the results.  Fun Fact – Google offers Google Voice numbers to *some* advertisers which can be used for tracking and placed on your site for a *free* trackable phone number.

Natural & Paid Together: A very new program from Google combines naturla search with paid search. Optimizing natural results is becoming even more important. Fun Fact – This is only the beginning for natural + paid, however, he says if he says anything else ninja’s will jump from the ceiling and JC Penney his traffic.  [+5 for the “JC Penney my traffic” phrase. Well done, Sir.]

User Location & Destination: Some advertisers can use location, search intent or either and exclude locations.

Targeting Limitations: The query parsing for destination can’t read in the middle of the query.  Best practice – exact match terms to lick in the right match to a destination.

Small Business Power: Google Places is another way of doing local search. Places can be managed on an enterprise level with a feed of all locations or with a self-verified listing. Best practice – Self-claimed ads can utilize Google Tags ads which are unavailable to large advertisers via feed.  Something cool for SMBs that the bigger guys can’t use.

And we’re out of this one.  Lunch and then we’re back in action. Stay tuned.

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