Most local businesses thrive on the patronage of customers from the local community, and location-based social networking platform Gowalla is an ideal way for local businesses to generate awareness and build customer loyalty within their own local communities.

Gowalla acts as a sort of online bragging wall, where people can find great local places and show off the places they’ve visited to their friends by checking in. Businesses who have created a presence on Gowalla can also interact with the people who check in to their business.

The value of digital word of mouth continues to grow as more people use mobile devices with location-based services like Gowalla. Here are several ways that you can use Gowalla to promote your local business.

How to Use Gowalla for Your Business

Gowalla provides several techniques that can enable a local or small business to generate traffic, create awareness, and create a better visitor experience.

Save Money

The largest amount of physical traffic most small or local businesses will get is from their immediate, physical vicinities.

In some situations, traditional methods of promotion, such as newspapers and phonebooks, may not be ideal or may cost too much. By leveraging Gowalla’s free services, small and local businesses can generate awareness through the most valuable and cost-effective form of advertising — word-of-mouth.

Claim Your Business

In order to fully capitalize on what people are saying about you on Gowalla, you should first claim your business.

Once you’ve added your business as a Gowalla “Spot“, you can add all your venue’s information, such as its address, phone number, and hours of operation. The more information you have, the more inviting your business looks and the easier it will be for visitors to decide if they want to visit.

Promote Your Business

Word-of-mouth promotion does not need to be solely about other people spreading your message. If you have a place you feel people would like to visit. Gowalla makes it easy to promote your business through other social media channels.

When you go to your personal profile, you can select your claimed Spot and Promote Your Business.

Gowalla Promote your Business ButtonNext, click the “Promote Your Business” button.

A new window will appear, giving you options to promote your business through various social media and online channels.

Promote your Business on Gowalla

Gowalla will give you a short link you can add anywhere to send people to your Gowalla Spot, a pre-written tweet you can share on Twitter, HTML code you can add to your website to show off your Gowalla icon, and a link to your Gowalla page.

Create or Participate in a Trip

A Trip is a series of spots that people can check in to using Gowalla. Once someone has checked in to all the Spots on a Trip, he or she gets a badge for his or her effort.

Become part of a Trip, and you may attract visitors who are visiting other Spots on the same Trip. Users enjoy the challenge of checking in at all the locations, and they will likely visit your business to make sure they get their badge.

For more information about creating a Trip, refer to the “Create a Trip” section in our article 6 Ways Gowalla Spots Can Help Your Business.

Leave a Note for Your Customer

Customers will be gratified when you recognize them for their loyalty. It’s easy to do that on Gowalla. You can select frequent visitors and send them notes or even offer them deals.

To leave a note, select your business, click the drop-down menu button at the top-right corner, and click “Leave a Note.”

Leave a Note

Select the person from a drop-down list, and send a message. When that customer checks in, he or she will get the note. This is an incredibly easy and effective way to recognize your loyal customers.

Leave a Note

By sending and receiving notes with your best customers, you’ll provide them an ideal experience that they’ll share with their friends.

Listen to the Customer

Just as you can leave a note for your customer, they can also leave notes or descriptions of their experiences at your Spot.

You can gain incredible insight into what is working and what needs help to make your place a better experience for visitors simply by listening to the conversations people are having about you.

Be Active

Just listing your business on Gowalla won’t be enough. You’ll have to be active by sending notes, being a part of Trips, and reaching out to your customers. While Gowalla is a digital community, the human engagement factor is still the most valuable asset your business can have.

Measuring Engagement

By leveraging Gowalla’s features, you can see when people check in and what they think of your business. This type of feedback is both instant and valuable because you can make changes quickly that will make the experience for your customers better.

How do you use Gowalla for your small business? What techniques have you discovered that engages the local community? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

[Image Credit: scaredykat]