SoLoMo: The Rise of Social-Local-Mobile Search Marketing

The world of digital marketing is awash with lingo, acronyms and jargon. (Don’t we know it?!)

Well here’s another one for you: SoLoMo. It stands for Social-Local-Mobile.

It’s fairly self-explanatory, I suppose. It’s a name given to hybrid strategies that integrate what most would argue have been the three most buzzing arenas in the industry for some years; social media, location-based marketing and mobile-friendly marketing.

Evolution from Hyperlocal to SoLoMo

Speaking of jargon, it’s tough to explain the benefits of SoLoMo without first revisiting an old marketing vernacular favourite: ‘Hyperlocal Search’. In case you missed that one too, ‘hyperlocal’ was simply a phrase used to describe the general paradigm shift towards the delivery of more personalised, location-based search results as a method of providing more targeted and relevant content to users. This was achieved through the use of ‘geo-tags’; coordinates, bearings, distances, accuracy data and place names that can be entered into meta-data in order to represent a physical location on the map.

You’ve no doubt searched Google for something and seen a map of your local area with pins all over it, each representing locations of businesses related to that search term. Well… that’s hyperlocal in action. What you might not know is that even Google’s organic listings on desktop are displayed according to geo-tags, matched against whatever location you have Google set to (or the location you use in your search term)… that’s hyperlocal too.

SoLoMo takes the philosophy of the hyperlocal era and extends the functionality to mobile devices. How? By using real-time ‘Geo-Location’ data (such as GPS data) relayed from modern tablets and smartphones as a method of targeting users while they are on the move. In other words, this ensures that location-specific marketing messages and information can be delivered, wherever a user may be.

Over the last few years we have witnessed massive growth in the sales of smartphones and tablets. The rise in mobile web browsing was predictably the first notable result, but we have since seen a huge increase in the number of people checking emails on their phone and using their phone to access social media accounts, not to mention using their mobile device as their primary camera and/or video-recording device (where all pics and videos can be linked to geo-tags for sharing on social media).

Marketers can take advantage of these avenues in order to engage those mobile users. Hence the ‘So’ in SoLoMo. Location-targeted advertising on social networks is one obvious application.

How does SoLoMo compare to Hyperlocal?

Geo-Tags (used for hyperlocal search targeting) are placed on the message-owners content or platform. For example, geo-tag coordinates for the ‘City of London’ could be used in the back-end of a web site for a café on Chancery Lane. The idea is that anyone with an IP address that matches that area will have that café promoted in search results for search phrases relevant to that cafés web site.

The problem? IP addresses can be inaccurate. Sometimes by a very long distance. Of course, users can edit their ‘location’ in Google and other engines, but if they don’t realise this (or just can’t be bothered) then the whole hyperlocal approach fails at the first hurdle.

Then there’s the fact that it is desktop based; the technology was not really designed with mobile devices in mind.

SoLoMo is different. Geo-location data is generated by the end-user (i.e. the mobile device), is updated automatically in real-time and is incredibly accurate: Sometimes within an error margin of only a few inches! Therefore, users can be engaged through SMS, email, social media and other relevant channels in utter confidence that the message will be relevant.

In many ways, its practical uses are similar to those of QR codes, except that there’s no need for the user to do anything but be present at a given location. The tech does all the rest.


Imagine walking past a shop and instantly having vouchers and promotions delivered to your phone, perhaps with information that could somehow improve the shopping experience in that store; for example in-store maps or free access to an app that works with your camera to scan bar-codes and save lists of products you’re interested in. Then imagine you could share your lists and view other people’s through social media.

Imagine updating your location on a social network (such as ‘checking in’ on Facebook) and being given offers for various local businesses, each with tags to categorise them. Choosing between sandwich shops on your lunch break would no doubt get a lot easier!

Still not impressed? Don’t like being marketed to directly? What about receiving real-time customer reviews of nearby businesses.

See? There really is an application of this tech for everyone. One question remains – what’s yours?

Posted by Paul

Paul is our Head of Marketing and digital strategy specialist. A Google certified SEO expert and Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, he has worked on award-winning campaigns since 2003.

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