First off, why should you care?
To begin with, you're probably already listed on all these apps! Better to know where your hostel appears and take hold of your presence. But Tim, are these apps really worth it? Hm, great question, just take a look at these stats:
Every minute, there are 2,000 Foursquare check-ins. Source: Social Jumpstart
Foursquare has had 3 billion check-ins and has 300 million users. Source: Foursquare Blog
47% of smartphone owners use them to find info about local businesses. Source: Local Corporation
So, I guess the answer to your question is YES.
So, what is this "SoLoMo" you speak of?
"SoLoMo" is the cool, hip new way of saying "Social, Local, Mobile". You can probably guess it has something to do with social networking, local search and the mobility of smartphones / tablets! The concept is simple: SoLoMo helps you find a hostel (or restaurant or museum, etc.) that's located close to where you are and recommended by friends on social networks.
Essentially, it's a discovery tool that levergaes social.
Nowadays, there are several popular SoLoMo apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, etc. like Foursquare, Facebook Nearby (inside the Facebook mobile app) and others that backpackers use to take advantage of these new technologies. In this post we're going to show you how travelers use these apps, and how you can sign up to take hold of your listings. In our next posts, we'll show you how to better manage your presence and use these apps to attract more backpackers to your hostel.
Which are the SoLoMo apps backpackers use?
The most popular SoLoMo apps are:
Foursquare (3 billion check-ins, more than 30 million users, cited above) Checkout this cool map of all check-ins in the last three months! 500M Check-ins
Facebook Nearby (680 million users, but still picking up steam). Source: Facebook Filing
- Google+ Local (over 400 million users). Source: Vic Gundotra Post
Great stuff, but how in the world do these SoLoMo app things work?
Since they are all fairly similar, we're going to show you how a consumer or backpacker would use one of these apps. We'll be using Foursquare to demonstrate the examples below.
On Foursquare, the most basic things a user can do is: 1) discover new places and 2) check-in to a place and leave a comment with a rating and tip.
How to - Discover:
1) The backpacker clicks on "Search" and enters "hostel" or "hostels".
2) He searches through the list / map and picks which is better located or better recommended by his friends on social networks. Side note: before he can get his friends' recommendations, he needs to connect Foursquare to his social networks and friend those people and others on Foursquare too, but that gets done when he sets up Foursquare the first time!
3) Done, it's that simple. :)
How to - Check-in, leave a comment and rate:
1) The traveler arrives, has a good time and clicks "Check-in". Then, the app looks for his location and gives him a list of the closest businesses.
2) He picks your hostel from the list, adds a comment, review, picks the social networks to where he wants to publish this and hits Publish! He can also take pictures with his smartphone and add them to his review. They will get added to your hostel's Foursquare listing automatically. So, make sure your hostel is always looking good!
3) That's it! Now this person's friends and network can see that comment in the "News Feed" on Foursquare and also on other networks where they have chosen to publish. Just another marketing tool to help your hostel get known!
The power of the Foursquare review / check-in: now, even if friends don't see the comment in their "News Feed", when those people (or friends of friends or people with similar demographic) search for hostels in your city, that friend's review will show up and stand out that recommended your hostel :) One of the many tools to help your hostel go viral on social networks! Research has shown that the recommendation of a friend has alot of weight in a final decision, more than any other channel.
How to - Manage your hostel's listing on Foursquare
First, create an account at Foursquare.com and then do a search for your hostel. As already mentioned above, you're probably already listed.
If you don't find your hostel in the results, you can add it here: https://foursquare.com/add_venue
Now, click on your hostel in the list of results. On your hostel's Foursquare page, at the bottom right click on the link that says "Do you manage this location? Claim here". Now, you'll go through a 3-step process to verify that you are the manager of that property.
In the next post we'll show you the tools Foursquare gives property managers to manage their page and attract more customers with things like Analytics and Specials!