Using Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Local Business
If you’ve been following our posts and are using SEO to increase the visibility of your local business, that’s great! You might think that by optimizing your website and helping it reach the top of the search results page, you’re doing enough.
But if you’re neglecting social media marketing, you’re leaving a huge source of potential revenue unclaimed.
In the United States, two out of three people actively use Facebook almost every day—that’s over 200 million users. What’s more, social media marketing is affordable, effective, and not too difficult.
What are the benefits of using social media?
Recommendations. Facebook allows users to ask for recommendations for local businesses. With this feature, they can request information on almost any kind of local business from their family and friends. This in turn alerts an algorithm that recognizes recommendation requests. As long as your business has a profile, it will automatically pull up and display a clickable link, including location. Not only the person originally looking for the suggestion but everyone else will have easy access to your information.
Reviews. People place a lot of trust in online reviews, and Facebook is a place where they both look for and share reviews. This can benefit your local business whether the reviews are good or bad. The advantage of a few hundred five-star ratings is obvious, but access to your poor reviews also you to turn a disgruntled customer into a happy one and at the same time show others that you’re willing to go the distance to make sure your patrons are satisfied. They know that if they have a problem, you’ll address it.
Local Advertising. Because they are free to users, social platforms make money through advertising, and they go to great lengths to keep advertisers happy. What that means for you is that you can laser-focus your ads on those people most likely to become customers. Facebook lets you target adds by location, user interests, age, and other demographic details. This allows you to make the most of you advertising budget, rather than wasting money on people who will never become clients.
Data. Facebook in particular has all the data—people freely and willingly share details about nearly every aspect of their lives and preferences. This allows it to serve your ads to people with an astonishing degree of precision.
Community. Social media platforms allow you to build a community around your brand, and that means long-term relationships with your customers, who will then become your advocates and cheerleaders. Not only does that mean free advertising, it means advertising that other users will trust. Users will create content for you, whether it’s picture of their pets after being groomed by your service, them and their friends enjoying a meal at your restaurant, the new haircut they got from you, and so on. This is the kind of advocacy you can’t buy. You can even organize events specifically for your brand’s online community.
Promotion. When you’ve built an enthusiastic community around your brand, promoting new products, services, sales, or events is fast and easy. Imagine making an announcement that is shared by a few hundred of your followers. It is then shared by fifty to a hundred of THEIR followers, and so on. Best of all, when a product or service is shared by a friend, people tend to trust it.
Choosing Between Social Media Platforms
Unless you’re in the position to hire a social media manager or team, you might have to choose which channels to focus on, at least at first.
Your Audience. You want to focus your efforts where your audience is. One way to determine this, aside from trial and error, is to look at your direct competitors. See where they’re building the greatest number of followers, and take a look at what kind of content those followers are responding to.
Your Content. Some platforms lend themselves to video (YouTube) or visuals (Instagram). Photos work better for a bakery than for an electrician, for example.
Time. Large companies have social media managers, if not entire teams, both producing research-backed posts and reacting to other users all day. You should realistically assess how many social media platforms you can be present on (have a profile and post at least once or twice a week) or active on (posting daily, responding, and engaging customers).
Facebook Company Page. You should build a page that at least lets your customers know your business hours, location, phone number, web site, and the services you provide. If you’re uncertain where to start, Facebook is a good bet because it has by far the most users, and it also has a wide range of different demographics. You’ll definitely be able to connect with some customers on Facebook, no matter what business you’re in.
Funnel your offline audience to social media. The more you can encourage your customer base to congregate in one place, the more time you’ll save. And if you can make that place social media, you can save money over sending out mailers, etc. Getting loyal customers who will sing your praises to others on social media will be extremely beneficial, since you’ve seen how recommendations and shares can snowball. Some ways to do that include:
- A business card with your social media information
- Signs and placards around the store displaying your profile
- Create a social media giveaway
- Offer a discount at your brick-and-mortar location for those who follow you on social media
- Ask your staff to mention the social media site
As you can see, a social media presence benefits a local business by getting all of your customers in one place, allowing them to advocate on your behalf, and sharing your content to exponentially increase your visibility and reach.
Social media marketing for local businesses doesn’t have to be difficult. If you are regularly sharing what’s best about your business and engaging your community as much as you can, you’ll be off to a good start.