Social media is key when it comes to connecting with people around the world in a matter of seconds, but sometimes it is easy to forget those closer to home. Social networks can actually be very powerful when it comes to reaching out to your local audience, especially when you are a small business and the customers just down the road are your target market.
As a small business it is key to establish yourself on social media platforms because interaction is key when it comes to building up a supportive customer base. Social media is all about communicating, and for your customers to be able to communicate with you, they need to be able to find you as easily as possible.
Social media is great for driving local business, so make sure you check out the following ways that your business can maximise its local social media:
Google Plus Pages
With a recent increase in functionality and value, this social network is not one to ignore. Google+ is actually now the second most popular platform with around 300 million active users, yet still many businesses do not utilize it properly.
Create a Google+ page for your business and make sure to put your address in, this will mean the platform will literally put your business on the map, Google Maps that is. This will hugely increase your local reach, as everyone searches for a business in your area relating to your industry, you will come up on the map results.
Local Google+ pages also allow customers to leave reviews, this is both fantastic for positive reviews, as it means potential customers will see the recommendations and be more likely to use your services, but it also means that you can deal with any unhappy customers straight away to resolve any problems.
These local pages require a verification process, meaning that your brand and listing can be verified on the network. Once this process has taken place, Google+ will provide you with some fantastic analytics that will help you to understand your customers and audience better.
In the world of social networks, Foursquare often gets left behind. But if you have a business made from brick and mortar with customers visiting you on a daily basis, then it is not something to miss out on.
Register your business on Foursquare.com and verify both your phone number and address using the code provided – you will receive a pin number in the post to verify your address.
Foursquare really is the leader when it comes to location networks as it has 20 million users simply looking for places to check into places they have visited. The benefit of this is that their check in can be shared with friends, fans and followers on a range of different networks including Twitter and Facebook.
This platform can be hugely influential, as when a user’s friend can see where they are and what they are doing, it could encourage them to go to the same places. You can also now engage with users who have checked into your location previously or are near by – this is very powerful if you have any special deals or discounts running that could tempt people back.
Facebook is the biggest social network in the world, so having your business on Facebook Places is a no-brainer. With the ever-increasing use of tablets and mobiles, users can check in on Facebook wherever they are to show their friends and family what they are doing.
Just like with Foursquare, businesses can set up their page with all their contact details and of course, their address. Customers can then leave up to a five star review on the page, which is visible to anyone who visits the page as well as the friends and family of those who left the review.
Reviews provide a great avenue for consistent engagement on the page, as businesses can thank customers for any positive feedback given and quickly respond to negative comments.
Graph search was introduced last year and allows users to search for keywords and phrases in posts, status updates and comments, meaning any mention of your business will come up in the search results and allow real time conversation around local businesses and interests.
Although Twitter was traditionally a more global online platform, there are now more features that make it a great network for local businesses to get involved with and share content on.
Twitter has a trending topics section, which lets you choose your own city, so you can see what people in your area are tweeting about. This means you can see what topics are popular and create content around them. You can then engage with people around these topics and offer any advice or answer questions if they are relative to your industry.
You can also use the Twitter search function to find keywords that may apply to you, for example “restaurant Leeds” or use the advanced Twitter search function to search keywords by location.
Another more recent trend on Twitter that local businesses can take advantage of is the location hashtags. More and more places are using a certain time of the day or week to tweet about their businesses and connect with local people in the area. #YorkshireHour is very popular and the trend seems to be spreading around the country with other areas such as #NorthEastHour.
At the end of 2013, Pinterest launched Place Pins. There are currently around 750 million destination pins on Pinterest and a further 1.5 million are pinned every day. Using Place Pins, users can explore a map and place a pin where they have been, so it is important your business is already there.
Place Pins provide details about your business including contact details and pictures, so it is important than pinners can find out as much information about your business as possible.
Follow Pinterest users in your area, as the likelihood is that they will follow you back and then want to look at the pictures you pin – this gives you the opportunity to promote pictures of your products and services. Write a description of your products with keywords in and add a link back to the product on your site as this is a great way to drive traffic.
The idea is to help your audience and engage with them, so create a board and choose a subject that will be of interest to your customers – thinking locally is key. Create a guide to the street your business is on or even better a guide for visitors of what to do in your town while on their travels.
Local social media marketing is a fantastic tool for small businesses and provides a great avenue for content promotion and engagement within a local market. It gives you the chance to create relationships on a personal level with potential customers, while maintaining a good relationship with existing customers.
Using the above platforms, your business can connect directly with people that live near you, while responding to any customer needs quickly and efficiently. They also provide you an increasing level of online visibility.