Hyperlocal movement boosting small businesses

The local movement, whether it pertains to shopping, food or news, has been building momentum for some time.

In response to the huge marketplace shares held by often faceless corporations, being connected locally has meaning to consumers. This is a welcome development for small businesses since many depend on area residents for the bulk of their business.

Along with the new focus on dispensing dollars locally, young customers also value experiences more than possessions, according to recent polls by Zipcar. The Intelligence Group concluded from a 2014 study that these 18-36 year olds preferred access to goods rather than ownership.

At the same time, during great changes in the newspaper industry, publications that focus on local news are remaining relatively healthy while large flagship newspapers are downsizing. People want to know what is going on in their communities.

What are the implications of these trends? Consumers who value experiences are probably more likely to seek local opportunities since they have ready access to those businesses. This is where the hyperlocal movement can boost traffic and sales for many small businesses.

Hyperlocal as it relates to business has come to mean the combination of mobile applications and global position system (GPS) technology. The ability of GPS systems to pinpoint locations is what makes hyperlocal possible, since hyperlocal means a geographic area much smaller than a city or town. Many applications zoom into a block or within a mile or two radius.

Location-setting is now a feature of many websites, both to track the geographic range of viewers and to make targeted advertising possible. The ability to target specific viewers helps businesses hone their advertising dollars to the closest group of customers. News sites that are hyperlocal – community or neighborhood-based – can offer advertising that is specifically targeted to residents.

Mobile applications created for use locally can also be used by small businesses for pop-up, limited-time or general advertising. An example is Foursquare, which allows users to find businesses that are in close proximity to their present location.

According to the company’s website, 93 percent of businesses are already listed. Customers can post tips, reviews or photos about these businesses. By claiming the listing, a business owner can post photos and information, make special offers, list tips and review visitor analytics. Advertising campaigns are also available to boost the listing to the top when potential customers search.

Facebook, which has been around for years and has been criticized for limiting business post reach, is also offering hyperlocal advertising. This option can be used as frequently as a business desires, either for ongoing advertisements or special offers. Various approaches and offers can be tested.

Belly is another application that lets customers build points through purchases. The business owner sets the rewards scale.

Costs of using these applications vary. Foursquare charges a small fee to claim a site and bills monthly for responses to advertisements. Belly has a monthly package fee starting at $99. Facebook charges for advertising, with a cost per click or impression.

Hyperlocal is the next iteration of social media and one that businesses can benefit from. Targeting and measuring advertising dollars has always been a challenge. These new applications offer ways to test and launch marketing campaigns that deliver.