November 22, 2011

Free tools to help geo-target your socialsphere

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Use MarketMeSuite, Meetup & Foursquare to locate your closest supporters

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, social enterprises, businesses, brands, social media managers.

Guest post by Nikki Peters
Community Support Manager, MarketMeSuite

If you have a Twitter account, you’ve likely used Twitter search to locate supporters and other like-minded organizations that are tweeting about topics and causes you care about. While keyword searches can be useful in increasing your audience and even gaining supporters, it’s also hugely time consuming. It becomes quite labor intensive to conduct a local search through Twitter for supporters in your area, and it can be difficult to keep track of replies and streamline your results.

Fortunately, there are other methods and tools for conducting targeted searches. This article will look at how your organization can incorporate geo-targeting so you can not only interact with people who are interested in your cause but also those who are local enough to participate and get involved in person.

Geo-targeting on Twitter with MarketMeSuite

Being able to locate tweets that have been sent within an “X mile radius” really does mean you can restrict your searches to only the most relevant distances and topics for you. Determining the location of tweets is particularly helpful if your nonprofit is holding an event in a town and wants to get locals involved. One method for locating tweets is with the UK-based social media dashboard MarketMeSuite. In addition to having all your social network accounts in one place, MarketMeSuite lets you target your tweet searches to location and specific words using a feature called “Reply Campaigns.”

You can target within 1,000 miles of a specific location. All you have to do is type in either the city, county, zip code or postal code to get the location of your choice. The keyword selection also means you can target the words that you feel will be most used in your niche topic.

Here’s an example of the Reply Campaign feature:

reply campaign

This type of geo-targeted tweeting is a tremendous time saver. For example, if you’re planning a local event and struggling to reach potential participants or sponsors, you can use geo-targeting to create a campaign within a 20-mile radius. As nice as it is to chat with someone who would love to attend but lives in Norway, you still need to fill up your event in New York. The results are pretty staggering: Eighty-five percent of replies sent using this method elicit some kind of reply.

You can further reduce the noise by banning words from your results with the “Negative Keywords” feature. This means you can tailor your search for only positive tweets about your subject choice. Add as many as you like to make sure that you get the best results; you are much more likely to have people respond and participate in your event simply because they are close enough to be interested.

Location services & Foursquare

There are a couple of social networks dedicated to all things local., now with 9.5 million members, allows you and your nonprofit to set up events and advertise them so other locals can see what’s going on in their town. It’s a hyper-local service that uses meetups, or gatherings, as a way to get people rallying around the same cause. Once you’ve established an event on the site, you can tweet out the links to it, even using it in your replies from your searches so that you never miss a beat in spreading the word about the great work that your organization does.

Another location tool you should take advantage of is Foursquare. With Foursquare, you can put your organization on the map so people can check in whenever they come to an event. Foursquare is often hooked up directly to a person’s Twitter and Facebook account, so you’re getting three times the exposure for the price of one. (And the price is free!)

Why geo-targeting is important for your nonprofit

Although some may think that the quantity of a Twitter search is the most important result, it really isn’t. If the people you are engaging with are not local to you, they might just be too far away to take part even if they wanted to. By searching within a targeted area, you know you are reaching people who will sit up and listen. Connect with folks in your community and entreat them to become your biggest supporters and evangelists!

How have you used geo-targeting in your organization? Or are you ready to begin?

Nikki Peters is the Community Support Manager at MarketMeSuite, the free social media marketing dashboard. MarketMeSuite has a global user base of businesses and consultants and offers a suite of cross-platform marketing and monitoring tools, all for free.
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