Is Hyper-Local Dead?

I really don’t like the term “hyper-local”.

If a writer concentrates on a specific geography, that seems to me to be local – not hyper. But I’m a minority (well,  Teresa Boardman and I are a minority) , and hyper-local blogging has become very popular among small businesses and professionals that serve a specific geography.  A few years ago, Google and other search engines began adopting hyper-local search (again with the extra word!) which provies you with the closest geographic results of your search.

Now, an inevitable evolution has developed which provides us with a new buzzword SoLoMo – the convergence of social search and local search (couponing like groupon or location based services like Yelp or FourSquare) using mobile applications. This combination of technologies and business strategies may be the next best disruptive  event in your business. The problem however, as always, is not in the idea, but in the execution.

On FourSquare, everyone from large brands to  individuals can create lists of locations and tips to share with others. At this writing there are 504 pages of lists available for FourSquare users, enabling thousands on individuals and brands to be noticed by local users. Each individual tip or notice is insignificant, but the impact of seeing the same logo or name again and again is huge.  Yelp also allows the creation of lists, and the same benefits obviously accrue.

Just as real estate professionals adopted Hyper-Local blogging  early, developing blogs for small communities and neighborhoods all around the country, some forward thinking companies and individuals are using this convergence to identify themselves with their geography in the most interesting methods.

Dreamtown Realty in Chicago took the simplest strategy- the made a Gruopon offer which allowed sellers to buy a coupon that they could redeem if they sold. Corcoran Real Estate in Manhattan has been using Foursquare tips and participation in Foodspotiing to establish an identification with local eateries and points of interest. If you get check in at Miami International, you will be greeted by a tip from Ines Hedegus-Garcia , offering to help you with your real estate needs in Miami.

Other local businesses can benefit from the same types of branding. A local independent bookstore might benefit from providing lists of places of literary significance, places where authors lived or worked, or locations used in books or movies. Local businesses could help locate emergency resources, community buildings, or recreational facilities. Art Galleries could pinpoint museums, monuments and statues.  The possibilities and potential are endless.

The challenge is to remember the social aspect of this new convergence is the most critical. A simple online coupon is a straight commercial engagement, and well written reviews on sites like Yelp or Foodspotting are appreciated by everyone, but the foursquare tips are another matter. If people find the tips to be more promotional than useful, they will be less well inclined to do business with you.

How could your business use SoLoMo?

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