How many good conversations have you had where one person spends the entire time talking?
That’s not a conversation, of course. That’s someone simply spouting off. A conversation requires dialogue, people taking turns talking and listening.
The online world is no different, and we’ve reached a point where true online conversations occur all the time. The days of receiving an e-mail from someone who says they’ll “talk at you” later are disappearing. That person likely now tweets those messages, creating an instant back-and-forth as followers chime in with their replies and spread the news with retweets.
Marketers, local search experts, are you listening?
Say a couple’s car is acting up and they need to find an inexpensive and reliable mechanic in the Phoenix area. In the past, a consumer might have searched in the printed or online Yellow Pages for information on a product or service, now they can also receive instant feedback and responses from their Twitter followers.
Adept advertisers and advertising consultants should view that as an open invitation. They need to be one of those followers, and they also need to know how to best leverage their own followers.
In the above example, what would help better woo a customer: a shop responding with its vitals, or one of its regular customers serving as a validator? The best response would probably be a combination of both: the shop posting its hours, location and other useful information, while a patron follows that with a comment on the professionalism and friendliness of the staff.
So the benefits are obvious. Microblogging is more than just a marketing fad. It has become a channel that people will use to find local information in the future, in conjunction with print and online directories.
But where exactly can we, as local search providers, jump in?
For one, we can use these tools to promote our own offerings. Like any other business, we can tap Twitter to engage with our potential customers, our advertisers. Timely tweets can inform our advertisers of product enhancements, special pricing, and other news. Additionally, we can use this channel to give our industry a voice and build alliances with both colleagues and competitors. It’s really just another tool to add to the 21st century business toolbox.
Another easy way to bring this technology into our day-to-day operations is to offer the space for savvy small businesses who have embraced microblogging. We can add new fields within our listings so that our advertisers can list their Twitter pages the same way they include their Web sites. In this way, we’re truly providing the 411 for today’s small business owners.
Yellow Pages companies are transforming from single-product publishers to relevant lead generators in the fast-growing and dynamic local search industry. As today’s technology allows us to do more real-time listening and reaching out, we are in a position to provide new and even more relevant value.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.