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TECH BLUES: Bruce Kerr says the busiest time of year for his store is Christmas time
TECH BLUES: Bruce Kerr says the busiest time of year for his store is Christmas time Brett Wortman

IF YOU are a business with a physical location which you want people to know about and frequent, utilising free location-based networks such as Foursquare, Facebook Places and many others is a great way to gain free exposure, and have some fun with your marketing in the process!

Many people believe location-based networks are the next big thing and this is not surprising when you consider that more and more people own smart phones - phones which have access to internet and email - and are using these to search for products and services they are seeking, often at the moment they require it i.e. a restaurant in a certain location. As of 2010, 36% of Australia's mobile population owned smartphones (a figure that Telstra projected would increase 50% by the end of 2011: http://nett.com.au/).

Additionally, one in five searches on Google are looking for local information, that means 600 million searches per day are for local information (source: hubspot.com) and 70% of online searchers will use local search to find offline businesses (source: Kelsey group).

The two biggest players are currently Facebook Places and Foursquare.com.

Foursquare currently has over eight million users worldwide and is adding around 35,000 new users each day. It allows users to share their location by checking-in via smartphone app or text message.

Facebook Places launched in Australia towards the end of 2010. You can check in to Places to tell your friends where you are, tag friends who are with you in the Places you visit, and view comments your friends have made. From a business perspective, Places creates more ways for you to promote and grow your business on Facebook.

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