This post is going to be a little different. I have to do a presentation for a company tomorrow about using social media for a local business (For privacy reasons I can not discuss details). I have just spent the past two hours brushing up on location based social media companies. Here are the three most interesting sites that I have reviewed today.

I am curious to get your impressions of these sites to see how you have used them.

1. Yelp- I have been using Yelp for a little while now, and find this site very user friendly. The basic idea is that when you go to the local restaurants, offices, stores, etc you rate your experience with this locale. My impression is that despite Yelp saying Reviews do not matter, it will be factored into how they rank a store.

This way if Store A has 3 reviews with 2 positive reviews and 1 negative they might be ranked higher than Store B with 1 positive review, but possibly lower than Store C with 2 positive reviews. The question is, do you look at the reviews to determine which store to go? How does it affect your decision? Do you look at this site before going to a store?

I am obviously filled with lots of questions as I return to my roots of using social media for local businesses.

2. Foursquare- This is similar to Yelp, except for two cool features. 1. There is a mobile app for Iphones, Blackberry’s, Androids, and other mobile phones that allow you to shout about a place while you are there. 2. They turn this into a game with points and also some mayoral prizes. At this time the points do not accrue to give you an prizes, however, that may change in the future.

The one thing that is cool is that some places give mayoral prizes for the person who goes to the store, restaurant, etc the most. That in itself is intriguing to me, because you can basically create a superfan who gets to gab to all of their friends about how they are getting a better discount, rate, etc over them. Think about going to a shoe store and all your friends buy one pair of shoes and get the second half off, while you get the second one for free. Who would not tell everyone they know about the special treatment they received?

3. Brightkite-This site is half-blog and half-location finder. The cool thing is that they have this incredible advertising opportunities for businesses where they can do what they call ultra targeted advertising, so you do not waste advertising dollars on people who would not be interested in your product or in your core demographics. This is interesting and scary at the same time.

Additionally, this is a site where users can post updates that go simultaneously to their twitter and facebook accounts. Not the first site to do this, but a good twist to the location based social media sites.

All in all it has been an eye opening day for me. I have learned a lot about location based social media companies. Maybe we should call them LBSM for short? Either way, I am interested in knowing who actually uses these sites and how they use them for their own and others benefit.

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