How to Use Social Media for Connecting with Local Customers
Social media marketing is one of the most inexpensive ways for your business to connect with local customers online. Even if the ones you’re trying to reach aren’t “locals,” local online marketing is a great way for small and medium-sized businesses to connect with their audience. According to a recent study from the Local Search Association, 77% of smartphone users accessed local content in December 2012, including online directories and local resources. The likelihood of the users then making a decision about where to dine, make a purchase or engage with a business is high. If your SMB is looking to boost local sales through social media, consider taking these three steps to move forward.
Google Local, Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook are networks your business must be on if you’re looking to generate new sales with consumers in your area. Making your business readily available through social platforms is a sign to consumers that you want to be where they are and you understand that means you need to be engaged and active on social media. Graph Search from Facebook and local searches conducted on Yelp and Foursquare that incorporate social signals from a consumer’s friends impact the decision of a consumer. Negative reviews your business has handled well, positive reviews from friends, check-in rewards and more will effect whether or not someone doing a local search chooses to do business with you. Be available on the networks where your customers can be found and where they’re looking to find a business like yours.
Check out Rignite’s infographic on how businesses can benefit from social media signals.
Establish Sales Goals
A 2012 study from Social Media Examiner found that increased exposure and increased site traffic were the two biggest benefits of social media activity. However, the majority (58%) also indicated that generating leads and developing loyal fans were perks of being active on social networks. In fact, 65% of small business owners were more likely than others to generate leads, compared to the 58% average for all marketers. What is your business aiming to do with social? If you want to drive online sales, in-store sales, the sale of a specific product, or something else entirely, you need to know this before you get started developing your strategy. Different contests, social campaigns, social content will be more successful than others. You need to gear your social media efforts toward meeting the specific sales goals you have in mind so you can build awareness, generate leads, and close sales.
Put In the Time
Social media success doesn’t come with setting up an account and expecting sales leads to flood in. You need to build your accounts, complete with the correct contact and location information, and then put in the time to listen and engage with those in your area looking for a product/service like yours. Social monitoring, keyword and location searches, and completing and updating profiles require a time investment. Make the investment and you’ll see consumers in your area make an investment in your business. Even if a consumer isn’t engaging with your business directly on social networks and is using a search engine instead, social media is making an impact. Social media is increasingly becoming a factor in SEO marketing and search results as engines begin to factor in social signals in their rankings. Put in the time to create social content, from blog posts to tweets, that targets customers near your location.
Get started with a time commitment to social media marketing activities for only 1-5 hours a week to test which networks and what campaigns are the most effective in helping your business close local sales. Reach local customers by offering deals, being present on sites such as Yelp and Foursquare that encourage customer reviews, and engaging in social conversations with those in your area. Social media isn’t about pushing or pitching, it’s about engaging and building relationships. Build relationships with your local audience on social media to see a boost in sales.
Bonus: Check out Rignite’s infographic below of daily and weekly tasks to help you manage your time spent on social media marketing.
Are you using social media to drive sales for your SMB? Do you have any tips to add?