When you think of popular and successful brands and businesses on social media, you think of the big players. Brands like KLM, Coca-Cola, Philips or Nike. Most social media tips are based on these types of brands and corresponding budget. But what about the smaller players, the social underdogs, the local businesses that give a friendly face to a city or town. What about social media marketing for local businesses.
“BUT WHAT ABOUT THE SMALLER PLAYERS, THE SOCIAL UNDERDOGS, THE LOCAL BUSINESSES THAT GIVE A FRIENDLY FACE TO A CITY OR TOWN. WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES.”
Well this article is for you. Today I want to talk about how local businesses can use social media to grow locally and use it to promote their business. Why you need social media as a business, how to make a local social media plan and tips to make it a success.
SOCIAL MEDIA FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES
Social media is everywhere and any demographic is using it, from babies to the elderly woman from across the street. But I still see local businesses who don’t see the value of having an online social media presence. Which really blows my mind because it can really help them grow locally, or even further than that, and promote their business in an easy way.
So to get started I rounded up 4 main reasons why you should invest in social media for your local business to promote it and grow locally:
• You can really easily target a local audience…
• …and you don’t need a big budget to be successful!
• People spend a lot of time on social media, so your local target audience is also an active participant. This way you can connect with them even when they aren’t at your business.
• It opens up the opportunity for sharing information and content about your local business that can be shared by your target audience to their network. This could result in new customers or maybe a local news outlet will do a story on your business.
HOW TO MAKE A SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES
Before you can get started with social media, you need to make a strategic plan. Social media needs to be fun but it also needs to be strategic in order to work for your business and help you achieve your business goals.
“Social media needs to be fun but it also needs to be strategic in order to work for your business and help you achieve your business goals.”
Your local social media plan
The first step you need to take is to write down who your local target audience is. This can be one group but it can also be more than one. For example you may want to target locals but also tourists that visit your town for the day. Describe them in the most detailed way:
• What they find important & what they want for you (the problem you can solve for them)
• Where they live
• Their job
Second step is to define or get your business goals and define how social media can help to achieve these goals. Do you want more lead generation (more customers)? Or do you want to create brand awareness, make a name for yourself locally?
After you’ve defined your target audience and how your social media can help achieve your business goals, you want to choose which social media platforms you want to use. The most popular are:
Choose two platforms that you know how to use, where your target audience is and that can easily help you with your business goals. Always use one username on all platforms — so check if they’re available on all platforms — and the same profile image.
Fourth step is your social media mission statement. This mission statement is the goal you want to achieve with your social media. It’s most definitely aligned with your business goals. For example if your business goal for summer 2018 is to increase the selling of your iced coffees by 50% you want your social media mission statement for a summer campaign focus on creating awareness for your iced coffees. If your overall business goal for 2018 is to become a hotspot in your local city, your social media mission statement is focused on social awareness. You can formulate it like this:
“We will use (social media platform) for (purpose of this platform) in order to help (local business goal).”
In case of the iced coffee campaign: We will use Instagram for promoting and creating awareness for our iced coffees in summer 2018 in order to help selling 50% more iced coffees than we did in the summer of 2017.
To make any campaign or social media strategy successful, check out the 4 basics principles of social media where I explain them in depth and how you can make social media work for your local business.
The last step in your local social media plan is deciding on three to four main subjects you want to focus on. In the case of the iced coffee campaign it can be behind the scene snippets of your local business, user generated images of customers, fun facts about your local business and your iced coffee.
Plan your social media content
After you’ve defined your social media strategy — your local social media plan — it’s time to put it to work: planning your social media content.
In order to keep it manageable I would suggest using one day a month to plan when you’re going to post what and one day a week to plan out the content — the creation of content — for that week or the coming week. Social media marketing for local businesses is supposed to be fun but most important strategic and efficient. You have a lot to do so having one day to focus on social will make the task much easier.
In your local social media plan you’ve also defined three to four subjects to create content around. Make sure you have a balanced content flow. Don’t just post promotional posts, also post images that set a mood or tell a story. Do your customers post images of your local business? Repost the user generated content and tag the customer (don’t forget to ask if they want their content to be shared!). This creates customer loyalty and a strong social following.
Make sure you also play around with different types of content to see what your target audience reacts the best to. Check your analytics and see which posts are generating the biggest reach and engagement (sharing, comments & likes). Most businesses focus on just the amount of likes which basically doesn’t say a lot. You want your posts to be commented on and shared. This way your post will not only reach your following but also the people who they’re following.
“Most businesses focus on just the amount of likes which basically doesn’t say a lot. You want your posts to be commented on and shared. This way your post will not only reach your following but also the people who they’re following.”
Schedule your content
The biggest thing that I see local businesses struggle with is that they have this idea that social content needs to be in the moment. Well, welcome in 2018 where social content is mostly scheduled by businesses and even just regular people.
Facebook has a builtin scheduling function but there are also scheduling tools for all other social media platforms like Hootsuite. In this post I share the 3 best instagram planning tools for scheduling your business grams.
Da Luca case
Something that any local restaurant has to deal with these days: reviews from customers on reviews sites. It can break or make a local business because they are often websites that people check before making a reservation. So what do you do when a reviewer is being dishonest?
You fight back. With positivity!
In this case, Da Luca received a review from a customer that they knew wasn’t true. But instead of getting angry, I created a Facebook hook to put a positive spin on the review. One bad review turned into 15 positive comments & a reach of 624 people and counting. Want to know more about how and why I created this post?
SOCIAL MEDIA TIPS FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES
Are you ready and excited to start with your social media? Before you do, read through these tips to get the most out of your social media efforts.
My tips for social media marketing for local business:
Use a branded hashtag
Creating a branded hashtag is a great way to cluster all your own content but also content from customers. If you are planning to use user generated content as part of your local social media plan, a branded hashtag can make it easier to find the content. You can use a branded hashtag that’s just your local business name or use a fun phrase that describes your business. #KeepItShort and memorable.
Location tags and local hashtags for local search
Whenever I go somewhere new to eat I always check hashtags and location tags to see what the food looks like to get a feeling for he menu. And I’m definitely not the only one. Lots of people — especially Millennials — use social media as a search engine for new ideas, hotspots, places to take a gram and travel destinations.
As a local business, this is your way into the life of your (potential) customer.
On every post or story tag your location and use a hashtag for your location. If you’re a restaurant in Amsterdam, use the hashtag #amsterdam but also the location tag Amsterdam. Is your local business located in a specific area, find out if there is a location tag for that specific area and if it’s an active tag. To use the previous example, if your restaurant is located in de 9 straatjes, you might want to use the location tag 9 Straatjes in Amsterdam instead of just Amsterdam or even narrow it down to the street name.
Engage with your target audience
One of the best way to build a social following is by engaging with your target audience. Likeand comment when a customer shares a post about your local business. Go out of your way to see who tags you and uses your hashtag, and engage with their posts. This builds a strong relationship and customer loyalty.
Promote your channels
In order to let your customers know you’re on social media you need to promote it. You can use your brand touchpoints to promote your social channels. Put social media icons on signs in your store or office, print it on packaging material and put links in your email signature and website.
Is your channel of choice Facebook? You might want to consider Facebook Wifi to grow your local social following. When a customer visits your store or office and wants to use your wifi, it first needs to like or check-in to your business. It’s a very easy way to collect likes from people who have visited your business and to reach potential customers. By getting likes and check-ins through Facebook Wifi, your ranking in the Facebook feed will go up and your engagement will increase.
Want to know more about Facebook Wifi? You can read all about here.
Hire a professional
Social media marketing for local businesses is not as easy as it looks like and having a pro to help you increase your local following to promote your business will make all the difference. Making a local social media plan is pretty easy but making it strategic and effective is something else. Engaging with social media posts seems fun but often gets forgotten about when you’re busy running your business. And social media advertisement? It seems easier than it actually is.
Not to say that there aren’t any local businesses who are killing the game by themselves, it’s just easier to have someone help you. You can get a marketeer who can write your strategy, a social media manager who manages your content or a creative that can create authentic content for you. Or someone who can do it all. Just search ‘social media strategy/management/content creator/advertisment [location]’ and you often find someone in your area who can help.
If there isn’t a budget to hire someone, you can also look within your own team. Maybe there is a parttime employer who is studying communications or online marketing. They can help you with your social media and they get relevant work experience.
GROW A LOCAL SOCIAL FOLLOWING & PROMOTE YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS
Social media marketing isn’t just for the big players anymore. As a local business you can get so much from being active on social media: brand awareness, attract new customers or even sell more products. Whatever your goal, you can use social media to help you reach it. And like I said before, you don’t need a big budget to make a local impact. With just a small budget, a strategic local social media plan and using the tips I gave, you can turn your local establishment into the place to be.
“Whatever your goal, you can use social media to help you reach it.”
Social media marketing for local businesses is a niche within social media marketing and getting help from a pro is always advised if you want to take it to the next level. If you’re not willing to put in the work or don’t have the time for it, invest in someone who can. You want to be where your dream client is. In this day and age, where people are hooked on their phones and they spend hours scrolling through their feeds, you want to be present online. And social media is giving you an opportunity to step into the lives of your target audience when they aren’t in your local business. So make sure you invest in your social media marketing. It’s worth the investment.
Next month I’ll release my next article in the three-part Local Business Marketing Series. It’s going to be all about content marketing and how you as a local business can use it to your advantage. After that there will be a final part about branding for local businesses.