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The Lines between Social, Local and Mobile Continue to Blur

By now you’ve heard the term SoLoMo to describe the convergence of social, local, and mobile. While buzzwords come and go, the phenomenon is here to stay. Back in 2012, LSA’s Greg Sterling described it as “… getting nearby information on demand, wherever you may be.” Here are the implications this concept has for small businesses and the companies that sell to them.

Social

It started when Facebook thought its users would prefer to search within the Facebook network to look for products and services. After all, what better way to find what you need than from a friend—or even a friend-of-a-friend? “Social is the new search” became the mantra.

Of course, this would occur behind Facebook’s walled garden, unsearchable to Google robots. If social search became a reality, it would disrupt Google’s business model and threaten the company’s $50 billion in AdWords revenue. So Google responded with a social network of their own: Google+.

Local

Although social search hasn’t really worked out the way Facebook intended, they still haven’t given up the fight. It recently created a Places directory. Google, in turn, began merging Google+ Local pages into Google Places for Business, giving it the same design and functionality as  Google+ company Pages.

The merging of local pages into the Google+ platform adds a “social layer” that the original local page did not have—the ability to post updates and interact with people in a Facebook-like manner. So is it a social media page or a local listing? It’s both.

Companies that provide listing management services are starting to treat local business social media profiles like a listing that needs to be claimed—because they are. Our customers ask us why they have a Facebook Page for their business when they never created one. It’s because Facebook also uses data from aggregators like Localeze to create generic business listings that can be claimed.

Mobile

Since the majority of local searches are done on a mobile device, the fight for the mind and heart of the smartphone users has begun. 78% of Facebook’s user base access the site daily on their mobile phone and for roughly one-third, their smartphone is the only device they use to access Facebook.

According to The Verge, “Facebook is a mobile company now. It makes 62 percent of its advertising revenue on mobile, a dramatic change for a company that had no mobile ads as recently as two years ago.”

For Google’s part, they’ve been pushing mobile and responsive design for some time. They’ve officially launched mobile-friendly labels and are experimenting with rewarding these sites with a boost in ranking.

tabita_mobile-friendly-label

The majority (45 percent) of small businesses don’t have a website. And only 6 percent of these are mobile-friendly. Stakes are high for SMBs. If local small businesses don’t want to lose to national competitors, a mobile site has become even more mission-critical. It’s up to local search marketing companies like us to show them the value.

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