To examine the growth of local-mobile adoption, Pew Internet recently released a study exploring, “mobile and social location based services.” In this post, we’ll explore the results of this study, and how the data can help to shape your marketing campaigns.
Location Based Services
Pew finds that 28% of American adults access location-based services from their mobile phones. These services include getting directions or recommendations based on location, tagging social media updates with location information, and checking-in with services such as Foursquare or Gowalla.
In terms of adoption, directions and recommendations lead the pack, reaching 55% of smartphone users. By contrast, check-in services reach only 12% of smartphone users, while local tagging reaches 14% of social media users.
This data should not be surprising. While more cutting-edge platforms like Foursquare receive more media hype, the basic activity of finding out where to go, and how to get there, is key to the mobile-local experience.
For marketers, this should remind us that while new channels do offer exciting opportunities, the basic foundations of mobile-local marketing need to be in place for the overall strategy to be optimal. A mobile-location platform that informs your customers where your locations are, and how to get there, is the cornerstone of a mobile-local marketing effort.
Location Tagging, Facebook, and Mobile-Social Adoption
When it comes to social media, Pew found that 14% of all social media users allow automatic location tagging of social media updates. However, this survey was released only shortly Facebook’s local update. Now that Facebook encourages local updates with every status update, the percentage of users tagging locations may rise.
Facebook’s update also changes the nature of local auto-tagging. Rather than social updates just pointing to a location, Facebook’s new local system allows users to seamlessly tag actual business pages within their updates. For local businesses, this means that rather than 14% of people just mentioning your general business location, these users could actually be mentioning your specific business, as well as sharing your business page with their friends.
In terms of pure social-mobile usage (not just local tagging), Pew found that 59% of smartphone users access social networks. While Pew did not isolate Facebook usage, we can speculate that Facebook activity makes up a large portion of overall mobile-social usage.
Between the rise of location tagging on Facebook, and the generally large percentage of mobile users on Facebook, local businesses should realize that location-based presence on Facebook is already highly valuable. And, as Facebook’s local integration expands, giving consumers the opportunity to find (and share) your locations through Facebook will become increasingly important.
Ultimately, Pew’s research should help marketers and companies focus on what really matters in making the mobile-local connection. Before venturing into check-in services and other cutting-edge platforms, ensure that your local information is findable and usable to your customers. Similarly, before diving into unexplored channels, be sure that the critical platforms – like Facebook – are well optimized for local-mobile users. Providing consumers with the information they need, on the platforms most relevant to them, is the first and most critical aspect of converting mobile users into local customers.