You might have heard: social media marketing is no longer truly optional. For businesses of any size to successfully reach and engage their audience, a presence on networks like Facebook and Instagram has become key to success. That might be connected to the fact that 81% of the U.S. population now has a profile on at least one social network.
Because of its ubiquity and accessibility, social media has become a common marketing tool for local businesses. In fact, one study found that only 13% of small businesses don’t use this channel at all, while a majority leverages it for promotional purposes on a daily basis.
But even if you are in that group, are you using the medium strategically to actually grow your business? It’s a complex question to answer. Social media is getting crowded; there’s a reason that Facebook keeps updating its algorithm to de-prioritize business content in favor of more personal updates from family and friends.
Still, you have a chance to break through. In fact, as a local business, you have a unique opportunity to do so. These seven tips can help you build a better, more localized social media brand to reach and engage your core audience.
1) Post Locally Relevant Content
If content is king in social media, it becomes emperor for local businesses. When looking to reach a nearby audience, you have an immense advantage: you and your audience share a common context. Look to post content that is not just promotional, but relevant to the community around you. That might include local festivities, trivia, and more.
Regardless of the social media network on which you build your brand presence, timing also matters. Twitter, for instance, requires posting multiple times per day for maximum engagement. Build a content strategy that covers both the quality and quantity of posts, so you can plan ahead for your entire social media strategy.
2) Build Contests and Coupons
Contests have long been proven to increase engagement on social media. For community businesses, that is especially true. Build on the local context mentioned above to run contests that your audience wants to engage in. These events might include anything from in-store photo contests to best selfie shots, with a small price and recognition from your business as the motivator.
Coupons can also work well. Networks like Facebook allow you to post coupons that are exclusive to your followers. These coupons are typically discounts, but can be used for a variety of purposes. Use them to make the crucial connection between online engagement and in-store visits.
3) Engage in Local Conversations
Experienced social media marketers will know about the importance of social listening, or paying attention to the digital conversations that might be relevant to your brand. In local marketing, that means not just conversations about your brand or industry, but also within the local community.
If you build the right strategy, you can begin to insert yourself into that conversation. For instance, you might find an uptick in social media chatter around a local music festival or parade each year. Schedule and engage with posts using the same hashtags most others use, inserting some brand personality to make sure your business is noted in the local community. As long as you stay away from overtly promoting your products or services, your voice will be welcome.
4) Partner With Other Local Brands
No marketing occurs in isolation. Even as they see your content and engage with your business, your audience can and will do the same with countless other, sometimes unrelated brands. Not all of them are businesses, either. Finding the right ‘fit’ local brands for a partnership can help you elevate your local marketing.
Potential partnerships include local nonprofits, community organizations, and more. Find a non-competitor, so you can both strive for the same goal. Then, build content that both brands can promote for each other’s benefit, subtly increasing the amount of exposure for your content in the eyes of your audience.
5) Leverage Business Reviews
It’s difficult to overstate just how important business reviews have become in today’s media environment. Half your audience actively seeks them out before deciding whether to visit your business in person. On the flip side, only 3% of consumers don’t consider online reviews at all before becoming a customer at a local business.
Reviews might be scary. You don’t have direct oversight of them, so you might prefer to ignore them altogether. The better strategy for local businesses, though, is to leverage them for your benefit. Highlight positive reviews as crucial third-party proof of your capabilities. Meanwhile, you can respond to negative reviews, showing your willingness to interact, solve potential problems, and build credibility within your community.
6) Run a Targeted Promotion
Don’t underestimate the power of social media advertising, even for the most localized businesses around. Networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow you to target as specifically as zip codes and mile-wide radii. Through a targeted promotion on social media, you can broaden your reach beyond your existing follower base.
If you stay local, this option is typically cost effective. You can run a Facebook campaign that reaches a 10 mile radius around your store location for as little as $100 per month. Exactly how you should set them up deserves an article in its own right; for now, consider the possibility of this option if you want to raise brand awareness and purchase intent in your immediate draw area.
7) Find a Local Marketing Partner
Finally, it pays to work with an experienced partner to tackle local marketing issues. All of the above require thought and strategy to truly pay off. If you don’t have existing expertise in social media, and local marketing specifically, you might find yourself spending significant efforts on an initiative with little ROI.
Fortunately, you can avoid that problem. Whether you want to better leverage your online reviews or build a local content strategy, we can help. Contact us to learn more about our expertise in this area, and how we can partner together to grow your business in the local community.