Editor’s note: The following guest post is written by Victor Wong, the CEO of PaperG, a local advertising technology company.
Conquering “local” remains one of the largest opportunities on the Internet today, and it seems as
though Twitter’s unique position has gone largely unnoticed. Today, Twitter is an amazing tool for
connecting people to the world, but it hasn’t yet successfully connected people to places they care
about. If Twitter chose to bridge that gap, though, higher user engagement and even monetization
would likely follow.
1. Twitter Places
What happened to Twitter Places? In 2010, Twitter created place pages for local businesses (called Twitter Places), but they were lost in the new redesign. The initial concept, while lacking visibility and utility, provided a good blueprint for how Twitter could better serve its local businesses by differentiating them from regular users.
The first step for Twitter will be in figuring out how to distinguish personal accounts from business accounts. Done right, Twitter Places could become the go-to source for information about any business (after all, businesses are more likely to update their Twitter page over their website). A new Twitter Places could link place pages with corresponding business accounts, as well as aggregate content from other local sources similar to what Google does with its Place Pages.
2. Where To Follow
In addition to “Who to follow,” Twitter should create a “Where to follow” section which would surface suggested Twitter place pages, thereby increasing the visibility of Twitter Places. Not only would it increase user engagement, this feature would also generate possible ad inventory for a “Promoted Places” product which would be the local equivalent of the “Promoted Accounts” already being sold.
3. Place Trends
Twitter should be the ultimate federator of check-ins, both explicit (Foursquare, geo-tagged tweets) and more implicit (Instagram). Most location based services already broadcast information to Twitter, which remains impartial without its own competing service, unlike Facebook. By aggregating broadcasted location data, Twitter can actually organize what’s going on in a given neighborhood or venue and show trending places. This useful tool also creates yet another natural ad opportunity — Promoted Place Trends.
4. Geotargeted Tweets
For big chains, one dilemma is how to use Twitter to run local, store-specific promotions. Twitter
should enable paying advertisers to geo-target tweets to followers in a particular location. By doing so, national-local businesses with multiple locations, such as Whole Foods or Best Buy, can send out weekly specials specific to certain regions without fear of alienating users in other areas.
5. Local Alerts
Anyone who has used Twitter can tell you it’s a goldmine of information about your community — if you know how to search correctly. To help people find local content, Twitter could offer “Google Alerts” whereby users get notified when keywords (places, people, etc.) occurs nearby. People can then be immediately notified when a school, child, or important local issue makes the news.
6. Loyalty Rewards
Any business wants to reward their best customers, and Twitter should make it dead-simple to reward new followers or loyal advocates. Many business owners would love to say: “Thanks for following my restaurant, here’s a voucher for a free appetizer!” 3rd-party efforts, such as PaperG’s Polly.IM, have already begun doing something similar with great success.
7. Promoted Retweets for Local Commerce
Imagine combining the group-buying craze with a platform as fundamentally social as Twitter. Twitter
has a commerce opportunity to enter the local deals space by making its ads truly social and offer a group buying experience. A local deal like this would spread like wildfire: “$25 for 2 Tickets to Kings of Leon. Deal is on at 50 retweets w/ 23 more to go. Spread the word with a retweet to get DM with coupon.” The coupon or actual purchasing experience could be displayed within Twitter to lower friction in transacting.
Although Twitter wasn’t founded to promote local commerce, it’s interesting how many pieces have
fallen in place which could allow them to become a major player in local. For Twitter to win local,
it needs to create more chances to engage users on a local level, increase usage of Twitter by local
businesses, and find natural monetization opportunities.