The theme of yesterday’s WWDC could have been summarized by Apple giving Google the middle finger. Apparently Jobs is still pulling strings even in the afterlife. But that’s neither here nor there. We want to know, how do yesterday’s announcements effect you, the small business owner? Well, depending on the business, it could potentially play a huge role.
One of the big announcements from yesterday’s WWDC was the marriage between Facebook and Apple. In the iOS5 upgrade, Twitter received similar treatment. The result? A 25% increase in sign ups. Although Facebook is less likely to receive the same increase in user registrations (because everyone is already on it), the engagement numbers should see a healthy bump.
Of particular interest to small businesses is the option to sync your Facebook events to your iPhone calendar. For those who draw revenue from hosting events, either directly or indirectly, it will become even more crucial to create an event page on Facebook to tap into the almighty mobile agenda. The event won’t sync unless an individual RSVPs that they’re going to your event; therefore, having a strong presence on Facebook will be the precursor to this having any impact. Befriend people religiously. Write strong copy. Have an attention grabbing lead image. Advertise.
Also, because the new iOS will also offer the option to sync Facebook contacts directly into your phone’s contact list, there’s even more incentive to have that one-on-one customer relationship on Facebook, a core concept explained well in Gary Vaynerchuck’s The Thank You Economy. Blending the lines between B2C and F2F (friend to friend) will pay dividends to keeping current with your customers’ contact information.
Apple announced that it was dropping the Google Maps service and integrating a new native application. If your business has a physical storefront, this new update could have a profound effect on you. When a user types in a common query (e.g. “pizza,” “convenience store,” etc.) instead of a business’s name into the map search feature, what results is at the mercy of Google’s mobile/local algorithm. A new provider means a new algorithm – just how different is to be determined.
Here’s one thing we do know – much of the data for businesses has been pulled directly from Yelp. If this means that Yelp reviews are being incorporated within local search results, you best make damn sure your business is on Yelp. And not only on Yelp, but rocking Yelp. Encourage customers to review your business. Run specials and ads. Share pictures. Reward the Mayor err…”Duke.”
Think about how many times you’ve decided on your destination based upon a quick search within Maps. Now multiply that number times 200+ million iPhones. That’s how important this change could be. It’s time to start thinking SEO again.
I save the most obvious business related update for last for two reasons. One: as of now, the integrations into Passbook are big businesses only (Starbucks, Fandango, Target, etc.). Two: there is no word yet on how businesses can get on board with the Passbook.
Essentially, Passbook is Apple’s first step into becoming a mobile wallet. It will store your Starbucks gift card, allowing for seamless payment. So too will it house your movie, train, and airplane tickets, allowing for easy swipe check-in/entry features. Speculatively, it’s only a matter of time before it will compete with Google Wallet, storing your credit cards, thus removing the need for a wallet altogether.
If Apple opens Passbook to any and all businesses, allowing systemized digital gift card creation, businesses would be missing a huge opportunity by not getting in on the game. There’s a reason that businesses offer gift cards: it’s guaranteed revenue – and more than one quarter go unredeemed (although this figure would almost certainly decrease if stored on your phone).
Another interesting development to keep your eye on: will Passbook target digital loyalty cards? This is shaping up to be a highly sought after market, as evidenced with Belly’s recent $10M raise. Businesses need to follow this closely. Having the opportunity to build loyalty with more than 200 million iPhone users could be a game changer.
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