Being asked to “check in” is something most of us associate with busy airports, over-filled suitcases, and holidays abroad. But it is becoming an increasingly important marketing tool for salons, thanks to new services from Internet giants like Google and Facebook.
Checking-in to a salon first became popular through companies like Foursquare and Gowalla, but now that the Internet giants are heavily promoting the idea, you can bet it is something we will all need to understand in the coming months.
All these services are based upon the ability of newer mobile phones to know where you are at any time through a technology called geolocation. This calculation of your physical location is widely used for satellite navigation in your car and for Google maps on your phone, but its application for salons has massive potential to boost your income.
As each of these services uses your location for different purposes, we will take a look at them individually and in comparison — and make sure you read the whole story, because we saved the biggest (and possibly the best) until last.
Fousquare is perhaps the best known of the original check-in services with more than 10 million registered users and tens of thousands of new members each day. Its application delivers the two key elements of all these competing services:
> Telling your “friends” where you are
> Looking for local businesses that allow check-in
The broadcasting of your location can include your contacts on Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and many other networks. It’s possibly a great way to arrange a meeting for lunch with friends also in town, but with so many of us having far too many “friends” we have never met, this can be fraught with dangers.
Businesses encouraging check-ins can also create deals, offers, and daily specials. So you have the ability to catch the attention of shoppers in your area and create a strong reason to visit your salon. The downside for salons is that we may be adding to the “Groupon effect” by creating a growing army of deal-shoppers — people who will only buy at heavily discounted prices.
Here are three steps to creating your Foursquare Venue and Special deal:
1. Make sure your salon’s website and Facebook page is ready for Foursquare.
2. Create your salon’s “Venue.”
3. Add a Special deal that is triggered by check-ins.
A step-by-step guide to Foursquare Venues and Specials is available at www.salonguru.net/places-deals.
Google Offers and Google Places
Google Offers and Google Places are emerging solutions from the leaders in online search, and they have a big advantage over existing services in that the company has an excellent reputation among businesses.
Nearly every salon will recognize that Google is vitally important to its business — primarily for the millions of potential clients who search each day and for creating a “Google Place” for the salon. A recent change at Google means that your “salon’s place” appears before search results — so if you have not created your Google Place, now is the time to do it.
Because of its reputation for bringing new clients, Google is well-placed to encourage salon owners to have a Google presence and then create a “deal” clients can access when they check-in.
But, like Foursquare it relies on users broadcasting their locations on other networks — like Facebook.
Here are three steps to creating your Google Place, Check-in, and Deal.
1. Make sure your salon’s website is ranked highly by Google.
2. Create your salon’s “Place”.
3. “Deals” may not be available in your area — yet!
A step-by-step guide to Google Places and Deals is available at www.salonguru.net/places-deals.
Facebook does not have a search engine like Google or the track-record of Foursquare in check-ins. But, it has an incredible 600+ million users.
Facebook users often “check-in” to their profile several times a day and for many people it has almost become an alternative to the whole of the Internet.
It is the power of this network that gives Facebook a massive advantage. When a Facebook user checks-in at your salon it posts an update back to her wall and notifies her many friends. This means that every single activity on your Facebook check-in is being spread virally to hundreds of potential new clients.
Imagine Susan’s 180 friends all seeing the message “Susan was at Trends Salon for their 25%-off pedicure offer.” Not only do they get the message but also a clickable link to your salon on Facebook.
Here are three steps to creating your Facebook Place, Check-in, and Deal.
1. Make sure your salon’s Facebook page is informative, attractive, and has plenty of fans.
2. Your salon’s “Place” has to be first created and then claimed by you.
3. The final step is creating a Deal that is offered to anyone who checks in at your salon.
A step-by-step guide to Facebook Places and Deals are available at www.salonguru.net/places-deals.
So what does this mean for your salon now? Foursquare and other coupon services can offer a way to fill your salon on quieter days and attract a lot of new clients. But be aware that there may be coupon shoppers with little likelihood of returning.
Google has yet to finish developing their service, and with its financial muscle and search engine domination, it may yet create the service we all use in two years’ time. Google Places has to be high on the “must do” list for every salon.
Facebook has the system in place and the massive network of users to mean that salons can’t ignore the importance of its service. But rather than the financially painful, deal-driven services, make it work for you by offering existing clients an attractive (but not too costly) incentive to check-in and spread the word virally amongst all their friends and family.
Phil Evans offers more information and guidance on Facebook, salon websites, and Internet marketing on his website, www.SalonGuru.net. Four free guides on “Facebook for Salons” are available at www.salonguru.net/facebook.