Do local businesses really need another social media channel for reaching consumers? Well, here’s the thing: How many restaurants, bars, and other neighborhood businesses do you follow on Twitter? I don’t follow any, and even though I’m probably on the low side, BlockBeacon co-founder and CEO Brandon Mills notes, “You don’t want to friend or follow 200 businesses.” At the same time, you probably wouldn’t mind knowing when those businesses are having a happy hour or some other deal.
To do that, you can use BlockBeacon, either through its website or its just-launched iPhone app. (The app seems like it will be particularly useful, since it allows you to open BlockBeacon when you’re out-and-about.) The service pulls businesses’ social updates from Facebook and Twitter, and also lets them post directly to BlockBeacon.
When a consumer visits the site, you enter your zip code or just choose your town from a dropdown menu (the service is currently available in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego areas). Then you get a map showing nearby businesses, along with recent deals and updates that are likely to be relevant to you. You can drill down on specific categories — the current options are featured, food, drink, deals, and food trucks (!) — and also rate the deals being posted. (BlockBeacon uses the ratings to refine its recommendations.)
Now, there are other plenty of other location-based deal services (perhaps the most noteworthy is Groupon Now), but BlockBeacon isn’t just about deals. It’s also allowing businesses to communicate anything with consumers at the moment they’re deciding where to go — as co-founder and chairman Joe Marchese put it, BlockBeacon updates should answer the question, “Why should a local customer visit your store right now?” For example, I just glanced at the featured map for San Francisco, and it was dominated by happy hours, but there were also a message about whether or not I had “rummed it up at Smuggler’s Cove” and another boasting about a restaurant’s banh mi sandwiches.
BlockBeacon has raised $500,000 led by Resolute.vc, the new fund from Mike Hirshland (formerly of Polaris Ventures).