Today’s guest post is by Simon Salt is CEO of Marketing Communications Agency IncSlingers. He is a Blogger, Writer & Entrepreneur

As small business owners, you don’t need to be told the importance of customer relationships. Without them your business wouldn’t have grown and you wouldn’t still be in business. It is often mystifying to the small business community how excited large business seems to get everytime a new piece of technology appears that promises to “bring them closer to the customer”.

Being close to the customer is what small business is all about and how they have always done business. So does Social Location Sharing promise anything new for the small business user or is it just hype generated by large business users hoping to cash in on the small business effect?

In my opinion, as a small business owner, consultant to Fortune 500’s and social media advocate I would say that Social Location Sharing is the most significant piece of technology to impact the way we all do business since the social media revolution began.

Here is why:

  • The time investment is lower than any other form of social media
  • The people you are communicating with are already in your establishment or at places you go to
  • The cost of entry to use these tools is zero
  • The platforms are providing good metrics

So where do you start, Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, SCVNGR etc? They all seem to be the same type of tool. Firstly, know your customer – which I am sure you do. Secondly, get to know the platforms, sign up for them and play around with them, they are all different and all offer different variations on the same theme. Lastly, be honest about how much time you have to spend using them as a marketing tool. Don’t start something you can’t complete.

As a good entry point for small businesses with a physical location that is open to the public I strongly recommend Yelp. The free tools they provide for businesses are better developed than any of the other platforms and the Yelp community of users is more stable than the others. Yelp might not be as “sexy” for the media as Foursquare or Gowalla but they have been around longer and have a strong user base that isn’t likely to become “fatigued” .

Overall, remember like any other social marketing channel, Social Location Marketing works only as well as the effort you put into it.

About the Author:

Simon Salt is CEO of Marketing Communications Agency IncSlingers. He is a Blogger, Writer & Entrepreneur – though not always in that order. He has been published online by Mashable, Read Write Web & others. His book on Social Location Marketing will be published by QUE a division of Pearson publications in January of 2011. He speaks nationally on the topic of Social Media and works with major brands as an online brand advocate.