Social media marketing as we know it is changing, and those shifting sands are proving to be particularly important to brick-and-mortar brands, largely due to the strong drive toward mobile. Increasingly, when consumers on the go enter a search for a brick-and-mortar brand, they are not just simply searching for the name of the brand. Instead, they are looking for more detailed information. In most instances, they are searching for information about locations and other highly specific geo-local info.
It's a Local Problem
The problem that many brands encounter when attempting to localize social media is the fact that not all locations are the same. In other words, what works quite well in one location, may not work at all in another location. This can prove to be particularly true in situations in which local customers may not be patrons so much of the brand itself, but of the local location, with its own unique staff. In order to make social media marketing work in such situations, the brand must focus on a way to bring marketing strategies down to that unique local level.
This will often mean creating a social media page for each distinct location. While that may sound as though it would be a lot of work, there is simply too much riding on it to do anything less. Even creating a unique social media page for each location may not be sufficient. Those pages also need to be managed continually, and that will often mean assigning a manager who is familiar with the local brick and mortar location. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating a cookie-cutter social media presence that will defeat the entire purpose of your campaign.
Benefiting from Local Profiles
While many small business might feel stuck with not knowing how to start with a local social media marketing campaign, the good news is that some of the hard work has already been done for you. There are actually many social media sites dedicated to highlighting local businesses. If you have not already taken control of your local profiles on those sites, now is the time to do so. Such sites can have a tremendous impact on your search engine optimization, so it is important to make sure that all your business information is up-to-date and correct. A few of the sites where you will want to make sure you have an up-to-date profile include Yelp, Foursquare, Yahoo!Local, and Google Places.
Every Audience Is Different
In order to truly leverage the power of social media on a local level, it is important to understand your audience and what it is that they appreciate the most about your business. Most local businesses fill a specific niche and have a solid understanding of where they fit into their local community. That understanding of your audience and your prospective customer base should follow through to your social media marketing campaign. Consider what it is that your customer base values most about your business. What would your customer base look for when seeking you out on social media? It could be special offers, helpful information, or customer service. Whatever it is that would attract your customer base to your social media campaign, it is important to understand this in advance so that you can design a campaign that will meet the needs of your local audience.
Keep It Focused on the Community
One of the best ways to get started with creating a customized social media marketing campaign that truly focuses on the local level is to post comments and share your thoughts and opinions as they relate to your local business niche. At the same time, focus on your local community. Think about what is taking place in your community. Are there any events or news that is unique to your local area? Use that to your advantage and think of ways you can weave your business into these events. This can be a great way to widen your reach while also helping you to create more fans and engage your audience on a more personal level.
Test, Test, Test
Keep in mind that you may need to rely on old-fashioned trial and error to determine what works well for you locally on social media. This may mean trying different types of content, messaging techniques, tools, formats, etc. Fortunately, social media networks are quite flexible in giving you the opportunity to determine how your audience interacts and responds to your brand and your content. Many brands, especially small businesses on the local level are often too afraid of failure to be adventurous and mix things up. Remember that if something does not work for your company, you can always chalk it up to a learning experience and try something different.
Keep the Conversation Going
One of the most common mistakes that business owners make when creating a localized social media marketing campaign is failing to remember that it is a two-way street. You are not simply disseminating information. Social media is all about conversations, which means that you must interact with your fans in order to reap the full benefits of this form of marketing. Replying to and interacting with those who respond to you is the cornerstone of any successful social media marketing campaign.
Quality over Quantity
Remember that in the end, social media marketing on the local level is not simply a numbers game. Sure, it's fun to see your number of fans and followers climb. What ultimately matters is developing an engaged and active community. That is much more important than building a large community that never interacts with you on social media, let alone visit your business in person.
Local social media marketing is both a science and an art. While it is challenging to get social media marketing right on the local level, it is definitely something your business, regardless of size, cannot afford to skip.