Complete Guide to SoLoMo Marketing for Hostels

Image for Blog Post: Complete Guide to SoLoMo Marketing for Hostels

What is SoLoMo?

"SoLoMo" is the cool, hip 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 one of these apps (Foursquare), and how you can sign up to take hold of your listings (on Foursquare).

Why Care About SoLoMo?

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. You might be asking: "But 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. (2012) Source: Social Jumpstart
  • Foursquare has had 3 billion check-ins and has 300 million users. Source: Foursquare Blog

So, I guess the answer to your question is YES.

What SoLoMo Apps Do 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

How Do SoLoMo Apps 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.

Foursquare Logo

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 review!

1. Discover New Places

1) The backpacker clicks on "Search" and enters "hostel" or "hostels".

iPhone Foursquare Search Screen "Hostels"

2) They search through the list / map and pick which is better located or better recommended by their friends on social networks.

Side note: Before they can get their friends' recommendations, they need to connect Foursquare to their social networks and friend those people and others on Foursquare too, but that gets done when they set up Foursquare for the first time!

iPhone Foursquare Search Screen]

2. Check In To A Place And Leave A Review

1) The traveler arrives, has a good time and clicks "Check-in" on Foursquare. Then, the app looks for their location and gives them a list of the closest businesses.

iPhone Foursquare Hostel Listing

2) They pick your hostel from the list, add a comment, review, pick their social networks to publish on and hit "Publish"! They can also add pictures with their phone and those get added to their review. They will also get added to your hostel's Foursquare listing automatically. So, make sure your hostel is always looking good!

iPhone Foursquare Check-in Screen

3) That's it! Now this person's friends and network can see that comment in their "News Feed" on Foursquare and also on other social networks where they have chosen to publish. Just another marketing tool to help your hostel get known!

The Power Of Foursquare Reviews / Check-ins

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 a lot of weight in a final decision, more than any other channel.

Manage Your Hostel's Foursquare Listing

First, search for your hostel and create an account at Foursquare. As mentioned above, you're probably already listed.

Web Search for your Business on Foursquare

If you don't find your hostel in the results, you can add it here: https://foursquare.com/add-place

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. And that's it!

photo credit: pasukaru76 cc