In the decades since the popularization of the Internet, our physical lives and digital lives have become deeply intertwined. This is in large part thanks to the rise of the smartphone; when you’re hungry, you can Google “pizza near me” and find the nearest pizzeria. Locally-based businesses can take advantage of how integrated the Web is with our everyday lives to find and keep clients. Social media platforms may have billions of users, but today the focus is on the users who matter to local businesses. This guide will help you find and interact meaningfully with clients in your area by using social media.
1. Facebook Check-ins
When a client uses the check-in feature, your location will be broadcast to their followers and friends. That’s great news for you. You’re not only getting free advertising for your business, you’re getting one of the best kinds of advertising – a recommendation from a trusted source. You want to incentivize this behavior, so opt to offer check-in deals. Own a restaurant? Offer a free coffee or soda with a check-in. Other venues might offer discounts, coupons, or other small tokens of appreciation for check-ins.
2. Get on Instagram
Instagram is an incredible platform for locally-based businesses. A vast majority of Instagram users follow at least one business account and most Instagram users say they’ve made a purchase based on the posts they’ve seen on the platform. The pictorial nature of the site gives you plenty of opportunities to showcase what makes your business different from other local or national companies. Take videos of your manufacturing process and of the people who work in the company. Take photos of your end products; artisanal work, delicious food, light fixtures you’ve installed – whatever your business does, showcase it!
3. Use Twitter Lists
Twitter lists are a useful tool for learning about the news, events, and movers and shakers relevant to your local concerns. You can make very broad lists, including almost every Twitter user in your city or neighborhood. You can make smaller lists, like “Local Craft Brew Lovers”, catered to interests more relevant to your business niche. Using these lists, you can stay on top of what’s relevant locally, riffing on what’s exciting people right now to create pertinent social media posts. There are often Twitter lists readily available in any given community that you can join; if there aren’t, create your own. The community will thank you for it and clout isn’t a bad thing in the world of social media!
4. Use Locally Relevant Hashtags
Perfecting the art of the hashtag is an essential piece of the local social media puzzle. You’ll be well-served by following a lot of relevant local businesses and using the Twitter lists mentioned above. Look at what hashtags people in your area are using and jump on board. Finding the sweet spot for hashtags can be a bit tricky – you want to use hashtags that are broad enough that people search for them, but niche enough that you won’t be drowned out in the noise. Fortunately, most platforms give you ample room to use a number of different hashtags so try things that you think will be relevant to your local niche and use analytics to parse down what’s working and what isn’t.
5. Find Out Where Your Clients are Hanging Out
No two people use social media the same way. People join different Facebook groups, follow different Instagram influencers, and watch for different Twitter trends. Where are your customers hanging out? The Twitter lists mentioned above can help you glean this information; there are a few other ways you can do it, too. Ask your customers where they spend time online and who they follow – you can ask in person or through a survey. Conduct a search for groups relevant to your interests. If clients are interested in purchasing your products or services, there’s likely some overlap. Have you found that there aren’t a lot of local groups catered to your interests? Make one yourself. The best place for your customers to hang out is in a space created by you.
6. Buy Ads
The methods that have been evaluated so far are all close to free or free; buying ads is a totally different way of getting local clients through social media. The big players in the industry all have targeted pay-per-click ads. The targeting means that you can narrow your advertising down to very specific demographics: local people who have already expressed interest in similar products or services to yours, for example. Social media advertising campaigns are best used as part of a holistic advertising strategy, featuring things like multivariate landing page campaigns. Going into that would lead us off topic, but it’s something to keep in mind.
7. Automated Booking Software
So far, we’ve focused entirely on finding new clients and encouraging them to interact with your business – but none of that translates into money in your pocket if those potential clients don’t buy. The easier it is to buy something, the more likely it is that it will be purchased. Automated booking software, like BookedIn, allows you to integrate booking into your social media, so when someone visits your business page, they’ll immediately be able to purchase your services. You’ve put all the work in to get them to your page so translate that effort into a sale.
All these tips should help you with the social media side of local marketing. Here’s a free extra tip – while social media is great for finding clients, when someone is looking for services near them right now, Google is where they’re going to be. You’ll need to optimize your Google My Business listing. Cross-post on that platform and a variety of social media, and you will most likely see an upswing of new clients.