Social media is undoubtedly a powerful marketing tool. But with so many global businesses dominating everything from Facebook to Snapchat, can local ones really get a look in?
You might think you’d be crowded out, but even the smallest of business can amass a dedicated following. It all depends on your approach.
In this blog, I’ll outline four expert tips that will get your local business noticed on social media, so you can spread your message and boost your sales and footfall.
Choose The Right Channel For Your Business
Good marketing is all about knowing where your people are, and you should never assume you know where that is.
Yes, Facebook is the most popular social media channel, but how many local business owners use Snapchat?
US fast food giant TacoBell made the most of Snapchats ever-popular face-swapping feature to advertise their apparently delicious Mexicana food fare.
And it’s equal parts hilarious and tempting.
Depending on your niche, less popular options like Snapchat, which is outside of the top 5 channels, might just be right for you.
Do Your Research
Larger companies base their marketing decisions on research and analytics. And this approach is just as relevant to everyone else, even if most of us don’t have whole departments dedicated to doing it.
To get a handle on your target audience, you can:
- Use your customer or website user data to define some key audience demographics and then compare them with those of different social media channels.
- Check out your main competitors (the larger the company the better) to see what channels they are using and whether they’re successful. If they are, it’s a safe bet to target the same.
- Splash out on a paid tool like Ahrefs Content Explorer to really get into the nitty-gritty of your audience data.
Use The Right Content For What You Sell
A lot of businesses, not just local ones, make the mistake of churning out text-heavy blog posts as a matter of course without considering if their content is a good fit for their products or services.
It’s important to know what content your audience wants to see – text, pictures, videos, webinars, online courses, etc. – because it will impact your choice of social channel. If your research suggests your audience are on Facebook and Instagram, but you can get your message across more effectively using pictures, Instagram is probably the best option for you.
To find out what type on content people who buy your products and services prefer you can:
- Do some more detective work on your competitors to see what content they produce and what is particularly popular.
- Use BuzzSumo to find out the most shared content for a particular industry by entering either relevant keywords or the domain names of your competitors.
The benefit of the second option is that it’s data-driven, so more likely to be accurate. Using BuzzSumo, you could find out what content coffee shops in Brighton share by entering the keyword ‘coffee shops in Brighton’ or rival company names and BuzzSumo will show you the number of shares per social channel containing that keyword.
Image source: own search
Don’t Make It About Sales
People don’t just choose local businesses because they’re convenient. The ‘shop local’ trend is growing and mirrors an increase in ethical consumer preferences. So, it’s likely that your audience are making a moral or ethical choice to give you their custom and want to see you do more with it than just profiteer.
In any case, good practice in content marketing suggests that businesses should post four value-added posts for every promotional one.
Share Community-Focused Content
As a local business owner, you can tap into the ethical/local consumer mindset by focusing your social media content on local community issues, like:
- Local events and markets
- Community groups your business is affiliated with or host in your premises
- Other local vendors you enjoy working with
- News that affects your local area
- Local sports teams and celebrities
- Local quirks (stereotypes of people and place, local customs, pronunciations etc.)
Calliber Collision centre’s campaign to encourage locals to donate food for hungry kids is a great example. Does food have anything to do with their service? No! But it is something their community cares about, so it’s a win.
Image source: Twitter
Share Content From Influencers & Community Members
Sharing content that other local businesses, or industry influencers produce is a kind of social proof. It indicates your awareness of, and involvement in, wider community issues and demonstrates to your audience that you have common ground.
If the content is helpful and interesting, or would people to better enjoy, understand or use what you sell, it’s worth throwing it into the ring.
Offer Discounts & Create Contests
One of the top 5 reasons people follow businesses on social media is to take advantage of discounts and special offers. So, give the people what they want!
Discounts, offers and competitions not only get people’s attention, but also build brand awareness and loyalty.
Really Engage With Your Audience
Building relationships with your local customer base is even more important for local businesses than non-local ones. You’re more likely to have repeat customers and to interact with them in person.
So, don’t shy away from engaging with people on your social channels.
The key to positive social media communication is to act like a real human. Don’t use every comment as an up-selling or cross-selling opportunity. Forge genuine relationships with people who are reaching out to you by commenting on your posts. Be kind, be funny, and be natural.
Bring In The Regulars
If you have regulars, encourage them to follow you on social media by:
- Placing signs in your store to show which channels you use
- Including a note on receipts about where to find discounts and special offers
- Telling people directly
Having some regulars you know well in person on your channels will drive friendly interactions and inspire newcomers to join in.
To Sum Things Up
Industry commentator Neil Patel is not beating around the bush when he says that “social media presents an incredible marketing opportunity”. But many local businesses miss out, assuming their market is too small or too niche to generate interest.
Not so! By putting these four tips into practice, your local business can tap into a growing consumer need for community-focused purchasing and ensure the growth of your business long into the future.