Local Social Media Marketing ?

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Many small businesses have a website that is their brochure and a lot of small businesses don’t know if anyone looks at it. They probably have social links on the page but who clicks on those? They spend on advertising in the local press and print leaflets but they can’t measure the ROI on those… And they really need to drive sales and footfall.

Why local or small business social media marketing works

We all know what social media is right? Well, those reading this blog should do..! It’s probably obvious that social media (i.e. talking to people) is a great tool for Internet Marketing to Smart People — it really helps to build relationships with fans and customers. It’s free but takes some time to get around and if you make the effort to post regularly and stick to it you will reap the benefits with an improving sales graph – which at the end of the day is what it’s all about.

So where to start with local marketing?

Go with the big four – Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

While some SEO experts advocate tackling social through sophisticated linking strategies, most local businesses need a much simpler strategy that is sustainable. Stick to the social channels that best fit the business’ target customers and objectives combined with quality social media content creation (which is the hard part..).

  • Facebook
    Today, Facebook’s power is not only its sheer number of active users but its ability to engage. Facebook is the most powerful social marketing platform for local businesses right now and cannot be ignored. It has some of the highest engagement numbers of any social media platform so it has huge opportunities for local businesses. Go with original content, photos, and videos which tend to generate more likes and comments than text with links posts.
  • Google+
    While Google+ is considered small it is actually growing in numbers in terms of users. The real benefit in establishing and promoting a local business on G+ is improved SEO. Coupled with Google Authorship, Google is about attaching a personal reputation to content which results in links back to a local brand or business. Google+ indexes videos and reviews quickly, often resulting in prominent placement in long tail keyword searches. Businesses can also claim their local businesses on Google+, which then distributes their name, address and phone number throughout the local search ecosystem.
  • Twitter
    With the introduction of Vine and other apps that have made Twitter a more contextual social platform, Twitter is becoming more relevant and effective for local marketing efforts. People search on #hashtags so include your own hashtag in your tweets (they’re used on Facebook and G+ too for search) and if you’re tweeting compelling, interesting or valuable content then you will be found. Use the hashtags relevant to your business or the service you provide and you will be seen as a player in your market space. Be warned though... You will get obsessed with follows because that's usually the only visible indicator of popularity.
  • LinkedIn
    For local businesses, LinkedIn is an easy-to-use social media channel that serves as a credibility checkpoint. While engagement is often lower on this channel, prospects visit LinkedIn to determine the validity of one business over another so failing to have a profile here might raise some negative perceptions. Local social media marketing is all about getting the name of your company exposed to more people, and LinkedIn is a great vehicle to make that happen.

 

Now for the hard bit - Developing Relevant Content

For Facebook, particularly, but it’s the same for any social platform, local businesses have the opportunity to create and share content that is engaging to their target. What you need to do is develop content that is relevant to your local community about your business or services. Talk about your products, discounts, special offers and share relevant posts that show you as an expert in your field.

Focusing Your Social Media Time

Generally, the local business environment is broken down into two broad categories – restaurant/retail and lead generation (e.g. Services like printers, opticians, estate agents etc..). Each category requires very different overall marketing strategies, and every business should approach locally-focused social media marketing efforts in ways tailored and optimised for their business model.

For example, for restaurant/retail businesses, Twitter can be effective at driving in store traffic and sales with special offers, discounts, product/menu updates, etc. For the second category of lead generation, Twitter becomes more of a secondary vehicle that supports other activities such as the launch of a new product or further broadcasting a promoted post on Facebook via trending hashtags.

Enhancing Your Social Strategy

Once your business has mastered one or all of the big four, take a look at MOZ Local - https://moz.com/local/overview. You are able to enter your business name and post code into the site and get shown your online score with Facebook and Google+ but also with direct networks like Foursquare, Central Index, Thompson local, Yelp, Scoot and others. It will find inconsistencies in your listings that Google frowns upon.

Quality beats quantity.

You don’t have to post all the time on your social media channels. But you do want your messages to get out there on a regular basis. Remember that customers go to small businesses for value. So be transparent and have a personality online and keep giving your customers something to come back for. When you build your relationships, you build your business.

Focus on community.

Social media marketing can widen your reach, help you engage more audience and create more fans. But social media isn’t like traditional advertising where you put a message out into the world and hope someone responds. It’s more conversational and centred around the idea of a community.

Social media allows small businesses to directly communicate with their customers and has the potential to turn those customers into a virtual sales team. Conversations are two-way. Make sure you’re replying to people who interact with you on social media. Engage with strong social influencers, such as bloggers that your customers read or individuals with robust followings. Engaging the online community is core to social media and one of the keys to your success.

Consider advertising. You’ve invested the time. Invest a little money, too. Don’t be afraid to throw a little money behind your social media efforts.

If your budget allows, put some funds toward Google AdWords to help bump your website up the search engine results. To do this, you’ll need a defined list of keywords that represent you and are found frequently on your website.

You also amplify your social media message on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can develop very specific, targeted ads on these networks with just a few clicks. Know your audience, and you can easily promote posts, share offers, gain more followers and drive traffic to your website.

Repeat what worked. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every day. If your social media efforts were successful, repeat the steps you took to do it again. It’s simple! And if something doesn’t work, try something else. Social media as a marking tool is unique in that it can heighten a company’s visibility, broaden reach and engage current and future customers at the same time. But it will only work if you do it.

Alchemy Interactive can ‘do’ your social media for you. Our team is extremely experienced in setting up the social channels and then posting rich and relevant content that ensures people will take notice. Harness this to our proven SEO and PPC offering and your business will start to fly. And then of course for the full service… we’re really good at websites.

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