According to Barone’s report from a #SoLoMo panel she attended:
- One out of every five searches has a local intent.
- One out of every three mobile searches has a local intent.
Customers are going online to find information about the businesses that exist 15 Miles from their doorstep. “If you’re not there, you don’t exist,” argued panelist, Gregg Stewart.
Barone also noted that nearly half of social network searchers select a local business based off consumer ratings and reviews.
I think it is safe to say many small businesses are not yet optimizing social media (and the recommendation engines therein), local search listings and the mobile web to the degree that their customers would like.
Given that word-of-mouth is critical online and off, companies can ask customers to rate them on Yelp and on Google and to “Like” them on Facebook.
You don’t want to “buy” customer reviews, but some form of reward might be extended to customers who lend a helping hand. For instance, if I like a new business that just opened in my neighborhood and post something positive on their Facebook Wall, I’m signaling that I want to be treated as a “friend,” not just another nameless customer.