How to Use Facebook Location-based Marketing [Check-Ins]

If you have a bricks and mortar business, then there are exciting opportunities for using Location-Based Facebook Marketing right now to leverage the power of social media. And you don't even have to have a big social media presence to get started!    

The Check In

The 3 Strategies in this new 3-Part Series are easy to implement.  In this Post we cover the Check-In. The next 2 Posts in this series will look at the new Facebook Nearby function as well as Facebook Offers. All of these great tools use the power of your current clients, raving fans and customers and don't even require a website – just a Facebook Page!  Though of course (if you know me) you know that I will always recommend that you have your website as your home base!

You can read about the 2nd Post in the Series (about Facebook Nearby) here. 

You can read the 3rd Post in the series (about Facebook Offers) here. 

The Check-In

I have to say straight up that I love this function of Facebook Mobile.  The trend is definitely moving from talking about what you are doing to talking about where you are.

Now let me just say straight up that I do advocate checking your privacy settings first. And it is not necessary to Check-In everywhere you go.  But this post is not about you as a user. It is about you as a business.  I am not going to get into the nitty gritty of how to check in. If your clients and customers are on Facebook, they will, in most cases know how to do this.  This is about how you can get your clients to Check-In, without having to know all the geeky stuff…and getting them to promote you and your products and services.

Anyone with a smart phone can “Check-In” or publicly acknowledge where they are at any given time.   This has many benefits, especially if the place being “Checked-In” to is your business:

  • the check-in is visible to the friends of the person checking in – providing additional exposure to the business.
  • the check-in can be used to leverage additional sales of products or services.  If this is encouraged from the actual business location (and not advertised on Facebook) then the business owner is complying with the Facebook Guidelines for Promotions.

Let's take an example of one of my favourite places to grab a coffee if I am driving back from the beach:  Zaraffa's Coffee. Zarraffa's is one of the fastest growing and largest Coffee Franchises in Australia.  I wrote about the wonderful customer service at Zarraffa's before in this post.

So what did Zarraffa's do that was brilliant?

They ran the following promotion:

Do you think that I was keen to Check-In when offered an upgrade in return for my Check-In?  You Bet!
Do you think that I was keen to Check-In when offered an upsize in return for a simple action.  You Bet!
The promotion was simple.

An “offline” advertisement promoted the “Check-In” as you went through the drive through (or instore).  While ordering my coffee, it was a no brainer to open my Facebook App, check in and get a free coffee upsize.

What happened next?

Many of my friends soon commented on my check-in on Facebook. Some of them had not realised that a new drive-thru location had opened. And I can honestly say that I know of at least 2 or 3 friends who followed me there on particular days because my “coffee” Check-In had them crave coffee while being nearby.  At a simple level it increased brand awareness.  At another level it actually brought in customers on the same day! 

And in a funny turn of events, while writing this post, I went out to get a coffee at my new favourite local coffee shop (and raw food cafe) Ground Organics.  While there (because I love the owners) I did them a favour, and checked in.  My friend Kerri responded with this comment. Do you think that Check-Ins are powerful for your business now?

coffee comment 2

The Check-In as a Strategy
The Check-In is a a great strategy that you can use in your offline “bricks and mortar” business.  It can be promoted on your blog and other social media platforms.
But one of the most valuable places you can promote it is in your business itself.  In the example above, I would be more likely to upgrade on the spot than to drive the 5 minutes to reach my nearest Zarraffas.

This reveals a great, easy way for businesses to use Location Based Marketing. In reality the business does not even need to use their website in order for this to work. They just need to be on Facebook (though again, a website is advisable!).  The customer does the marketing for you. It can be done completely on location in real-time.

So how could you use Check-Ins in your Business?  

In a bricks-and-mortar business, let your clients know that you would love them to Check-In.  You can encourage this by:

  • offering a value-add like Zarraffas did.  This should be something simple, of low cost to you but of perceived value to your client.
  • offer a discount or voucher for goods and services in return for checking in.  At another local independently owned coffee shop, they offered a piece of fruit toast for only $1 when you Check-In.  Think of how you could apply these “coffee” examples to your own business.  Be creative.  Could you offer a small percentage discount from purchases?  Or additional time on a particular service?  I know a wellness practice that offers a free couple of minutes on their massage chair for a Check-In. Well, hand me my phone, I want to Check-in!
  • simply”ask for a Check-In”.  This one might surprise you.  Notice I did not say “in return for xyz”.  There is no harm having a poster or sign up at your place of business, saying “Love Us? Check-In and tell your friends”.  Sometimes the simple action of asking or giving them a call to action is all that is required.  Try it!  You might not even need to add incentive. If they do love you, they might just be keen to tell their friends.
What's next?

Well, if this article from Inside Facebook is anything to go by, we might be seeing some really cool functions coming on board from Facebook. They reveal that Facebook may be testing a new service that allows local businesses to offer customers free Wi-Fi after checking in on the social network.  This is definitely something your business could consider offering on a manual basis (ie providing the code in return for a Check-In) but what about if it was automated? Instant marketing done easy for you!

More in this Series…Check back here to find out about two more fabulous location-based functions on Facebook. They are as follows:

(1) Facebook Nearby – this is one that I am excited about. I could have jumped in and talked about it in this post, but I wanted you to see the power of the simple Check-in function first.  But to give you a teaser:  Facebook's recent update allows all users on iOS and Android to see not only which friends have checked into to a particular location but they can also discover places and businesses “nearby”.  This includes business pages on Facebook – a HUGE opportunity for your business.

(2) Facebook Offers – Facebook describes Offers as where you can “get discounts from businesses when they post an offer on their Facebook Page. To claim an offer, all you need to do is click Get Offer from the story anywhere you see it on Facebook”.  More to come!

So be sure to check back here or even better, subscribe to my blog/weekly updates so that you don't miss the next posts in this series on Location Based Facebook Marketing!                                

Are you someone who habitually Checks-In?  Have you seen any great Check-In Promotions lately?  Please tell me about them below. I love to hear about creative ideas that Bricks-and-Mortar businesses can implement.

PS  Can you please do me and your local businesses a favour? Pick a local, independently owned business today…and…Check-In when you visit!  

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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About in 2019". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes and Entrepreneur Online and she is a contributor to Social Media Examiner. Donna speaks about digital and visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.