Social media makes it easy for small businesses to reach local targets, yet many still ignore the value of local social media marketing.
Small businesses have a unique dilemma in local social media marketing. We all watched it happen early this century – beloved local businesses that were just a phone call away swallowed up by Internet savvy startups that made a name for themselves through social media.
Think of the mom-and-pop bookstores in small towns across the country forced to shut their doors, unable to compete with the new Goliath in book sales: Amazon.
Even established chains like Borders proved to be no match; customers simply preferred the convenience of firing up a computer and shopping from the convenience of their living rooms, patios, cars and wherever else they could get an Internet signal.
Just a few short years later, surviving brick-and-mortar stores and startups alike have a new arsenal of tools to help them survive in an increasingly digital world. Social media can connect businesses to larger, more loyal groups of tech savvy consumers.
We’ll explore three ways local online marketing can help you forge lasting connections with prospective and existing customers.
1. Claim Your Stake of Web Space
Before socializing online, we recommend establishing a company website. It’s remarkable that this remains overlooked in this day and age, but sadly, many small businesses fail to claim a stake of web space.
Consumers just aren’t flipping through the phone book and reading flyers on bulletin boards and telephone poles anymore. Instead, they are powering up their favorite search engine and browsing the Web for the products and services they want.
Like many small business owners, you may be short on cash and think you can’t afford a website. But you’re actually costing your company money by not establishing a web presence. How?
Without a website, you have to work much harder to let people know you exist. And no matter how often you pound the pavement in your local business community, people will tend to forget about you if they can’t find your company’s story online.
Developing your online presence is really no sweat. No need for music and flying images – just a basic website that tells who you are and how your products and services can improve the lives of your target audience.
Your pockets will thank you as you move your business from red to black.
After establishing your Web home, now it’s time to use social local marketing tactics to build your community of loyal buyers and prospects.
2. Create Your Local Business Listing Online
More people search for businesses online than anywhere else. So it only makes sense to ensure your business can be found online. Developing local business listings online will do just that.
Don’t just limit your business listing to Google Places (although that is the most highly use search engine), be sure to set up a listing on Bing Places and Yahoo! as well. The best part of creating a business listing online is that they allow local browsers to find you even if you don’t have a company website.
3. Get to Tweeting (Don’t Forget the Hashtags)
Hashtags have truly reached the point of ubiquity, and for good reason. Whether you’re on Twitter, Google+, Tumblr and now even Facebook, you’ll no doubt run into these powerful little characters, which pack a big punch in local social media marketing by corralling topics to effectively boost campaign visibility.
For example, plugged-in Cleveland residents will no doubt have an eye out for #Cleveland to find local news on Twitter.
A home care agency could develop an informative blog post on superfoods that keep seniors healthy and create a trending topic using #seniornutrition. This home care agency could then create outreach campaigns targeted to interested prospects based on analytics from this online conversation.
Want to localize your social media posts? Add #yourcity (such as #Cleveland).
4. Rally Fans on Facebook
Those of us who keep in touch with our Facebook friends know all too well how quickly a picture or post can spread. For example, a friend who ate an amazing turkey sandwich from the local deli may snap a picture of the masterpiece and post it on Facebook with the name of the deli.
What do you do if you can appreciate a tasty turkey sandwich? Take your friend’s advice and get on over to the deli.
Although Facebook is wonderful, it’s not the best choice for every small business. It’s up to you to first observe your customers and see how, and if, they use Facebook.
Who’s On Facebook?
According to a study by Pew Research Centre:
- 67% of U.S. Internet browsers use Facebook
- 72% of U.S. women Internet users are on Facebook
- 73% of U.S. Internet users between the ages of 30-49 use Facebook
- 68% of U.S. Internet users who have graduated from college use Facebook
If your target audience is on Facebook, next you’ll need to examine the true dollar value of a Facebook fan.
Establishing any sort of web presence is the first step in building an effective local social media marketing campaign, regardless of your company’s industry focus.
So get the word out; your organization’s most charismatic advocates are ready and willing to not only become your walking advertisements, but to lead plenty of others on the path to your door.
What’s the Word: The growing social media trend makes local social marketing a viable strategy for small business promotion. When using social media marketing to target local buyers, you gain the unique opportunity to establish lasting, personal relationships with potential and existing customers.
Want help establishing a local social media marketing strategy to help grow your small business? Contact us.