5 Social Networks That Local Businesses Shouldn’t Ignore

thezenagency
Matthew Marley Online Strategy Manager , The Zen Agency

Posted on February 27th 2013

5 Social Networks That Local Businesses Shouldn’t Ignore

Are you using social networks to promote your small business?

There are thousands of social networks and social media websites but in this article we have highlighted 5 that can prove highly effective as part of a small business social media marketing plan.

social networking for businessesFourSquare

About - The location based social network. FourSquare caused something of a buzz when it first launched in 2009. The web and mobile application enables users to check-in from a location earning points and even badges. With considerably more than 2 billion check-ins and 30 million members, FourSquare is a popular network that continues to burgeon in numbers.

The Basics – Businesses can establish a brand page on the FourSquare network encouraging users to check in. There is a dedicated group of users that may check-in to a location simply to gain the points and attempt to become “mayor” but there are other, more advanced features to help you further.

FourSquare Small Business Marketing – Foursquare encourages hyper-location check ins. It is possible even to check-in for a particular floor or establishment within a building. Set up incentives, called Specials, which can be used to encourage both new users and returning users to the pages of your site.

Yelp

History – The Yelp website was launched in 2004 and is not only a local business directory, but it also offers users the chance to review the services and companies that they have used. January 2013 saw the site receive more than 100 million unique monthly visitors, a considerable increase from the 71 million posted a year earlier.

The Basics – Yelp actually combines the features of a social network with a local business directory. Visitors can search for a specific business type in their local area, read reviews and ratings, and leave their own. They can also become involved in the Yelp community and see who the most active users are.

Marketing Using Yelp – Create a profile for yourself and your business and, as well as posting contact details, include information on offers and announcements. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews but don’t get too pushy; if somebody wishes to decline the opportunity then humbly thank them for their time. Develop a community around your business by writing reviews and by checking in, in a similar fashion to FourSquare.

TripAdvisor

AboutTripAdvisor was launched in 2000 and has undergone major acquisition to further cement its position as a leader in the holiday comparison field. It was an early adopter of the use of user generated content rather than relying on professionally written reviews.

The Basics – TripAdvisor is deemed a social network that is geared specifically towards travellers. It enables users to post anonymous reviews of hotels, flights, and other accommodation. Many travellers head for the website when they are looking to book or plan a holiday and want to ensure that it goes as well as possible. The TripAdvisor website uses software and a verification process to ensure that reviews are honest and not faked.

Marketing Your Business On Trip Advisor – Don’t fake reviews on the website and, while you can ask guests to leave an honest review, bear in mind that a number of establishments have already been blacklisted for bribing its visitors to leave reviews. Ensure your business has a profile page and then encourage your visitors and those staying in your accommodation to leave an honest review of your hotel. You can enjoy the benefits of targeted marketing and reputation management using this social network.

Google+

The Back Story – Google has long coveted the social network crown held by Facebook and in June 2011, Google+ was launched to help them towards this end. Of the more than 500 million users, around half of these are considered active on a monthly basis. Following an initial invitation only trial, Google+ was released to the wild in September of the same year.

The Basics – Google+ has many similar features to other social networks and it is also used to tie in all of Google’s online real estate and users’ accounts. Small businesses can combine their Google Local, Google Shopping, and their own websites into a single channel and can share links, written content, images, videos, and more.

Google+ Marketing – Register your personal profile and a company page. Link your blog by using the Rel=”author” tag and post links and content often. Engage in conversation with like-minded users and join groups, answer questions, and even host video hangouts. The likes of US President Barrack Obama and The Muppets have successfully fielded questions from users over a hangout session and businesses have reported very good results using the same tactics. Implement +1 buttons on your website and blog, giving them prominence to ensure that they are easily visible to all of your users.

Twitter

HistoryTwitter, the micro-blogging platform, was launched in July 2006 and gained popularity and prominence thanks to its short-form content requirements. The site has more than 500 million users and it enjoys more than 340 million tweets a day as well as 1.6 billion search queries per day. A host of apps exist to extend the usability of the network.

The Basics – Registered users can Tweet short, 140 character, messages and can connect with users from around the world that share similar interests and enjoy reading the content that they have to offer. Conversations and relationships can be struck up on the pages of Twitter making it a highly viable networking and marketing tool for any small business and business owner.

Small Business Marketing On Twitter – Set up your profile and business profile, and personalise your profile pages. Connect with all of your colleagues and connections from other social networks and add a Tweet This button to your website content. Post regularly and share content from others while getting involved in relevant conversation too. Don’t overdo the retweets and consider running just one in five tweets promoting your own services with the rest being links to useful content from other publishers.

Social Media Marketing

There are many social networks you can benefit from but you should avoid the temptation to try and cover every single one. Above are five viable small business marketing opportunities using five of the most popular and potentially beneficial social networks online today. 

image: social networks/shutterstock

thezenagency

Matthew Marley

Online Strategy Manager , The Zen Agency

Matthew Marley is the online strategy manager at The Zen Agency one of Scotland's leading full services digital agencies, with over 13 years experience specialising in Web Design, Development & Digital Marketing. With over a decade's experience in the industry he is a digital native and works with clients helping them to develop and implement successful search and social strategies.

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Comments

Hi Matthew, thanks for the tips. Actually any social networking sites can benefit small businesses, it depends on how we use it.

Hi Kent 

Thanks for your comment.

I wouldn't say that's true, it really does depend on your business your customers.

What's the point in investing time and resources on platforms that won't provide an ROI.

This is where many businesses fail with social media, they don't have a strategy in place and don't carry out the proper market research beforehand. 

Matthew

Customer reviews are very important, and monitoring them are even more important. If the business only has a brick & mortar presence then it’s up to management to make sure bad reviews are responded to. This gives you credibility and potential customers understand that you are concerned and care about your customers.

Completely agree, Google+ Local reviews are very important as these can have a significant impact on the local search results. I would also recommend a business set up alerts on Google Alerts and Social Mention to monitor what people are saying about their business online. This is an area where we see a lot of businesses are failing, and one of the reasons that many are still scared to embrace social. They don't want people leaving reviews, but even if they don't have an online presence people will still talk about them online!