For small businesses that are looking to gain traction with local consumers online, social media marketing has become an incredibly effective and cost efficient method of connecting with local consumers and increasing brand visibility in the local search results.
A recent statistical analysis from social media analytics provider Pingdom offers significant insights to the demographics of users, signifying similar usage of social media platforms by both men and women surveyed (47% for men and 53% for women), as well as an even usage of a variety of social media channels by the younger segment of users (18 to 24) who do not dedicate themselves to just one social media site.
These statistical insights insights provide great perspective for small businesses in that it’s important for them to trial and error each social media platform in an effort to identify which social media channels are the most effective to reach their ideal consumers.
Social media has become an essential ingredient for building brand visibility and loyalty for small businesses competing in a local marketplace and to simply ignore social media as a viable source of web traffic and customer engagement can be huge lost opportunity.
With this in mind, I’ll now identify three simple strategies for small businesses to help effectively use social media to promote their business.
Evaluate Your Local Competition
We all know the adage keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. This concept has some validity in local search. Before you decide on a strategy for your social media campaign, scope out what your rival local competitors are doing in their social media efforts. Find out what social media platforms they’re on and what sort of content they’re publishing. Identify how popular they are. How many likes/followers do they have? How are they marketing their service offerings. These insights can help you plan a local social media strategy that will engage your customers in an effective manner that will surpass the efforts of your local competitors.
Consistently Engage Your Followers
Your followers are your (current and) potential customers. Interact with them. Ask them questions. Poll them on how to provide better customer service or ways to improve your products. And if you’re effectively engaging them on a consistent basis by posting new content and getting feedback from them, don’t ignore what they have to say. That’s the fastest way to burn a bridge with a consumer. If a consumer voices his/her opinion about your small business via one of your social media pages, take that complement or criticism seriously. Respond to users who post on your walls or Tweet at you in a professional manner. As I explained in this blog post, that interaction can go a long way for a consumer. Consider social media an opportunity to continue to improve your products/service offerings for your consumers.
Provide Incentives for Your Followers
As I eluded to in my previous post about conversion optimization, consumers LOVE deals (and free stuff.) An excellent social media strategy for small businesses is providing exclusive offers to your followers on each of your social media properties. Incentives keep your social media followers interested in your brand. Offering something of value such as 50% off your next cup of coffee or offering a discount code for free shipping to your social media followers is a great way to keep them loyal to your brand – coincidentally, it’s also a great way to increase sales, as well.