What Matters Now: Hyperlocal Marketing

Last week I was eating at a local brunch spot in my neighborhood and decided to “Check-In” via Foursquare.  (Foursquare.com is one of the new location-based social networking sites where users ping their network with their physical location, such as a restaurant, shop, park, or even a more specific location like a statue in a park.) When I checked in, Foursquare informed me that a “Special” was available nearby from Pinkberry, a frozen yogurt shop on the next block. As I ran neighborhood errands, I couldn’t get Pinkberry out of my head. Of course, I ended up stopping for a cup of pomegranate yogurt with strawberries on the way home. I felt extremely self-satisfied as I “checked in” at Pinkberry and used the 10% off coupon for my order.

foursquare hyperlocal marketingThe experience got me thinking about hyperlocal marketing and why it is getting so much buzz these days. Hyperlocal marketing is a term used to describe communication efforts about events and offers to a very specific geographic area. Unlike local marketing, which refers to targeting at the city or state level, hyperlocal marketing refers to targeting at the community or neighborhood level.

Almost every retail marketing director we meet has a social marketing project on their “to-do” list, but most are struggling with how to generate and track ROI for social media. My Pinkberry coupon experience on Foursquare is an example of why hyperlocal media programs are such a great opportunity for retailers.  While brands on Twitter, You Tube and Facebook have struggled to create relevance in their brand messages, brands on Hyperlocal social networking sites enjoy inherent relevancy due to physical proximity. The Pinkberry coupon worked because it reached me at a time when I was interested in hearing about offers in that specific neighborhood.

Foursquare is receiving a lot of hype, but it’s not the only location-based social networking site on the scene.  Gowalla and Brightkite have also garnered signficant audiences.  This spring, Twitter rolled out it’s own location-based tweet tags, although it is also allowing integration with Foursquare and Gowalla.  A cool new social network in this category is a small start up called Foodspotting.  With Foodspotting, users share photos of dishes they like and users can search for appealing dishes near them. Very cool for foodies like me!

As marketers, we are always seeking that holy grail of connection planning: reaching the perfect consumer, with the optimal message, in the most supportive environment, at the exact moment they need the information. Hyperlocal social marketing brings us one step closer.  Retailers with brick and mortar locations should be tracking this trend very closely.