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The new local business advantage

March 30, 2008

The original promise of the web was an equal playing field. Meaning, Joe’s Pizzeria could put up a website and look exactly like Pizza Hut.

But the problem was, Pizza Hut had a bigger and flashier website than Joe’s Pizzeria because Pizza Hut is bigger. While Joe’s Pizza could look like an international Pizza magnet, they obviously weren’t. The internet didn’t really work to level the playing field. Until now.

Pizza Hut

Image via Wikipedia

Social/share marketing is changing that in profound ways. Social networks are about building communities. Not online communities, just communities. Think about it: Facebook is an online place to manage a community of friends who are off line. In other words, online tools let people drill down and create local communities, if they desire.

And that’s what Joe’s Pizzeria wants. Joe’s Pizzeria wants to connect to people in their community. Tools like MySpace and Facebook, while designed to offer the world to brands, are actually really good at simply offering community to people who share the same locale.

That’s why Bands use MySpace so well. They promote themselves within their community and grow from there.

A search for a band might bring their website, then their MySpace page, then their Wikipedia entry (depending on their relative size). A search for a local business might bring up Yelp, a MySpace page (if they have one) or another geo-community-based site like Outside.in.

The point is, the need to have a website for a local company has diminished as community platforms have emerged. A MySpace page isn’t overly designable, so Joe’s Pizzeria doesn’t have to try to out-design Pizza Hut. In fact, a MySpace or other social network site, is both an equalizer (all sites essentially look the same) and an advantage for the little local guy. Because the little local guy has the advantage of being local. And people tend to be more passionate about local places. And when people are more passionate, they are more likely to add Yelp reviews or link to and/or become fans with social networking sites.

In other words, Pizza Hut would have a hard time catching on in Facebook at a local level. Whereas, within it’s community, a local company can not only catch on, but prosper.

So if you own a local business, get online, without a website. Get on a social network. It’s not just free, it’s an advantage.

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