Who This Post Is For: Local businesses that are yet to get started on social media.
Social media is no longer a choice. It’s not a case of ‘should be on here?’ It’s more like ‘Uh-oh, we’ve got to get on here right now and figure out a way to beat our competitors.’
The trouble is, with so much to learn and do, it can be tough knowing exactly where to begin. Below I have included a few basic tips to help your local business get started on social media.
If you’ve been around for a while, it’s likely that your customers are already online and looking for you. In fact, there may be ‘likes’ for your business when no page exists or discussions on Twitter that you aren’t a part of.
It’s important to do a quick search and find out what your current situation REALLY looks like. Also, take a look at your competitor’s pages. If they have been present and engaging on social media for a while, you’re going to have a lot of work to do in order to catch up.
The one advantage you have here is that they’ve probably made all the mistakes and gone through a ton of trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t work with their target audience aka. YOUR target audience.
You can research their profiles and use the findings for more accurate ideas on developing a strategy, particularly in relation to content.
Quick side note: Remember that you should always follow the Pareto’s 80-20 rule. Share 20% content that is related to you and your business and 80% content should be about things your customers are interested in. This 80% will be focused on the geographic, demographics and psychographics of your audience. This is explained in more detail below.
Choose One or Two Social Media Platforms
It is too often that small businesses will sign up for every social media site in the world and use 2 out of 10 of them. Although it may seem like a great idea to sign up for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, and LinkedIn so you can be all over the web, it’s not. This can be more damaging than not being on the platform at all. You end up wasting a ridiculous amount of time feeling overwhelmed, burning yourself out and providing diluted value with zero results to show for it.
The harsh reality is, you set up an expectation that you can’t deliver on. When you start to build an audience that you aren’t posting too or engaging with, it gives the impression you don’t care.
Now, I know that’s not the case. I know you are working as hard as you possibly can to deliver. The thing is, it’s not me you have to convince- it’s your customers!
It is far better to focus on one or two social media platforms that you have the time to interact on. Facebook and Twitter seem the obvious solutions because they are at scale but depending on your niche, there may be a preferred social network.
When you do concentrate on one or two platforms, it will become a lot easier to find and engage your target audience. Relationships will form more naturally. You will create a strong, loyal community that converts into sales and customers.
Community Culture Content Strategy
As a local business, your focus is usually on the community. Your location becomes the connection point that you can take advantage of.
People do business with other people they like, know and trust. As a local business, people can connect to you. If you can hone in on that and show you are on the same level and care about the same things as your community, it will be a lot easier to get a conversation going; a conversation that will form the foundations of a life- long relationship.
When on Facebook, take time to comment on other local pages. Engage. Show you have a vested interest in the local community. This will help to build great relationships with other local businesses that you can strengthen at networking events. Over time, you can cross promote for mutual benefits.
Keep in mind that when you are engaging with another business page on Facebook, their fans can see your comment and have the ability to click straight through to you Facebook page. Talk about exposure, right? ;) This will provide you with targeted impressions at the cost of a few minutes of your time.
The same approach applies to Twitter. The great benefit of Twitter is that you can jump into a conversation with almost anyone without it being considered rude or invasive. Twitter is the one truly social network.
Use Twitter’s advanced search to find people within your location. Take a little time to search the bios of people and follow those in your target audience. You may even want to add them to a Twitter list.
Just as you would with Facebook, jump into community related discussions and take the opportunity to build relationships with other businesses on Twitter.
Look for other common interests and engage on conversations that your target audience initiate. Make it easy for them to talk to you. Not only do you find out some great information you can use to improve your content strategy, you can also get a real feel for the tone and language used.
This is important information for keeping conversations going, initiating discussions in the future and for knowing how to write a call to action that will actually work.
Don’t forget to integrate your social media marketing offline. Your customers might search you once but if you’ve not been present up until now, they won’t search again. It’s your job to take steps to let your customers know you are online; you are available and ready to serve them. This includes offline social media decals, having that discussion with customers and incorporating your social media links on all print materials. If you train your audience to interact online, they will and as a result, you will put your word of mouth marketing on steroids.
Tools To Use Along The Way…
Social media management is A LOT easier if you have the right tools. Here are just a few to get you started.
If you are only managing one or two tools, accessing them directly is perfectly fine. However, if you are struggling, consider the free version of Hootsuite. This will allow you to connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You have the ability to set up streams and manage everything including content scheduling from your dashboard. There is also a great mobile app for remote management.
In the beginning, you don’t have to spend a fortune on tools you won’t use and don’t understand. At this stage, it’s all about common sense.
Use the free analytics offered by Twitter, Facebook and Google Analytics to track your progress. As a local business, hone in on the geographical data and make sure you are targeting the right audience.
Also, pay attention to the content that resonates best with your audience. Are there any trends or interests that your community shares? Think about the psychographics of your audience. You find out most about your customers when you are NOT talking business so don’t be afraid to add a question or two (Strategically) to find out more.
[Tweet This ]
Creating text posts or links to your own media is pretty self – explanatory so I’m specifically talking about the creation of graphics here.
With the growth of mobile internet users, visual content is the preference. It’s not surprising, our brains can process images 60, 000 x faster than text. When you are scrolling through that tiny screen, it takes a stand out, professional image to grab the readers attention.
You don’t have to be an expert photographer, there are some great tools that are super easy to use, low cost and create beautiful images. My personal favourites include:
As previously mentioned, you will need to provide a proportion of other people’s content focused on the interests of your target audience. There are a variety of tools you can use to help with this.
Hootsuite does allow you to add RSS feeds if you are sharing links. Other tools to explore include Feedly, Spundge, Pocket, Pinterest or BundlePost [personal account]. There are more, hundreds in fact. Test a few, pick your favourite and stick with it. There is always time to adjust when you are up and running.
Social Media Manager
If you are really struggling, hire a social media manager. I know, a little self- serving post right here but this could be the greatest tool in your toolbox.
If you don’t have the time, the resources or the skills to manage your social media effectively then hiring a social media manager is your solution. Your customers need you to be present. You can say you’ll be there then ignore their comments and requests. It will make you look bad and lose you business. This is definitely something to consider for developing and/or trying to execute a social media strategy. To find out more, you can explore here.
Recap and Action Steps
1. Spend a few hours doing detailed market research. A full market analysis will serve you best if you have the time and skill to carry out one.
2. Choose one or two (max) social networks to get started on. Facebook and Twitter are the best options for B2C. LinkedIn and Twitter are great for B2B. In General!
3. Develop Your Social Media Strategy. Ensure that you are able to invest the time required to carry out each daily task.
4. Content. Highlight the 3-4 topics your community care about and integrate them into your content strategy. Don’t forget to tie promotional posts to business value.
5. Integrate your social media into all other marketing communications.
6. Pick your tools. Pick a few tools to make daily social media management easier and get to work on implementing.
This post is designed to include the very basics to get you started as a local business on social media. The most important thing to remember is to start. Don’t let the journey overwhelm you and if you are really struggling, ask for help. It will save you time and money.
Now it’s your turn. Did you enjoy today’s post? Will you be implementing any of these techniques? If you have, I’d love to know how you got on. Share with me your thoughts, questions and feedback in the comments below.
I’ll see you there ;)