Popular check-in services, such as foursquare, are not as popular as some may expect with only 4 percent of respondents reporting they use them. However, more than 23 percent turn to their handset when trying to find their way through an unfamiliar area or locate a new restaurant or store.
For smartphone users, these numbers are much higher. Nearly 60 percent of those relying on a smartphone use at least one location-based service. Many popular handsets simplify the process of finding businesses in the area by assessing the user’s location and responding to searches with nearby restaurants and other storefronts, which speaks to the value of local SEO and Google Places pages in achieving online visibility.
Additionally, Pew found users between the ages of 18 and 49 are even more likely to rely on location-based services to find businesses. However, check-in service use is relatively consistent among the age groups.
In recent years, businesses have wondered whether altering their search and social media strategies to account for burgeoning technologies, such as location-based services, would provide adequate ROI. Pew’s poll demonstrates the value in targeting social networks with geosocial capability.
With smartphone users reporting significantly more reliance on location-based services, it’s likely that these services will grow in use and evolve accordingly as the smartphone market expands. Market research firm comScore recently reported that smartphone use the U.S. grew 10 percent in the three-month period ending in July.
Currently, more than 82 million people use smartphones in the United States, with Google’s Android mobile operating system leading the way. The platform has continued its substantial growth throughout 2011, as comScore’s numbers represents a 5.4 percentage point growth since the end of April. Search marketers should remember that rising Android use may contribute to the rise of on-the-go Google searches and plan local SEO campaigns accordingly.
Tailoring social media marketing techniques to smartphone users may also prove beneficial, as comScore’s study found more than 30 percent of users access social media on their handset.