With millions of users on each social media channel, how do you cut through the noise and reach local customers near your business? Use these 5 tips to reach your small slice of the world:
1. Identify Who Your Customers Really Are
Whether they are a baby momma, hipster beer connoisseur, or business big wig, not every platform is right for your audience. Find out what your customers do in their spare time, what their home lives look like, where they work, how old they are, where else they shop, etc.
After you do your homework, remember that quality is always better than quantity. Don’t be on every social media platform because you feel like you must. Instead, rock the pages you have time to put your energy into.
Example: Two Dudes Painting Company is a professional painting service for homes and businesses. Due to being service-oriented, a product-based platform like Pinterest might give them some notoriety but may take more energy and time than other platforms.
Meanwhile, Facebook and LinkedIn have been great choices to build their individual and business followers. Both of these platforms also reach the age range of their audience.
2. Make Friends: Networking Doesn’t Happen Just in Person Anymore
Did you enjoy an amazing burrito at a local taco shop? Did you strut your stuff and meet a local business contact at a mixer? Talk about them on your page, share their posts, or promote their events. If you tag them on your social media page, you increase your chances to carry your message to their followers.
Not only can you reach their audience, but the business will also be more likely to appreciate the connection for further sharing, partnership opportunities, or recommend you to others.
Example: The Lancaster Arts Hotel does a great job of sharing posts from area businesses that their guests might be interested in. Not only are they showing tourists that we have a vibrant downtown but they are creating strong partnerships with the shops they promote through their page.
After all, it is likely that those small shop owners are going to recommend the Lancaster Arts Hotel to their out-of-town friends and family.
3. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Trendy Hashtags
Sure, #ManCrushMonday and #ThrowbackThursday are trendy, but thousand of users from all around the world think they are too. Local hashtags will do more to connect you with your audience.
Finding a local hashtag can be a chore, although after connecting with other businesses (see step #2), you might start noticing hashtags they are using. Think of local events around you that have a substantial following or a Chamber of Commerce that might promote a group of businesses through a common hashtag. It’s also easy to create your own business hashtag, but, if you don’t promote it and users can’t contribute, you’re just filtering your posts for yourself.
When in doubt, just remember no one wants to see your top picks for Woman Crush Wednesday. #SorryNotSorry
Example: The hashtag #ThinkLocal adapted by the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce has a wide variety of local contributors across several platforms. By using #ThinkLocal, you promote shopping at small businesses which can be very positive for your business.
4. Have Others Do the Legwork
Some days it’s just nice to sit back and watch the magic happen! Once you establish an audience, engagement and discussions might happen on your page naturally.
Kick-start the conversations by encouraging customers to check-in at your business with signage in your store or a note on your print materials. Encourage employees to be socially active, contribute photos, or share your posts to their friends. Feature your fan or customer photos so they share your posts with their friends. Find Twitter lists in your area to discover new connections.
Example: With Twitter lists, the quest for finding connections is completed for you. The list “Journalists,” created by the PA News Association and saved by the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, is a pretty solid list of local journalists in the Lancaster area that can be referenced for any PR and outreach efforts.
5. Use Geo-Tagging and Geo-Targeting
Well all of this is just fine and dandy, but how do you get customers to find you? Be sure posts include a geotag or location data.
Social media platforms are becoming a lazy man’s search. Adding geotags filters your posts in location-based searches. Influencers, hashtags, and customer discussions take patience.
Speed up the process by using geo-targeted paid ads. These paid ads are easy to create through Facebook (and now available on Instagram as well). Simply pick your location and your ad is on it’s way to your local area.
Example: In addition to Facebook, Instagram is becoming a quick photo search method. Lancaster County Magazine geo-tags their posts as “Landisville, PA”.
When you click the geo-tag, you can see who else tagged their photos in Landisville, PA. Lancaster County Magazine is now reaching and promoting their magazine to others that find or use the Landisville, PA tag.
When you first start a social media platform for your business the amount of time it takes to build a local audience can be overwhelming. With a little patience and by making social media a part of your daily business efforts, social media will reach more potential customers in your community than you thought was possible.