Social shares are local marketing gold. That’s the word from nearly everyone who’s anyone in the business of small business marketing and advertising. While local business directory listings are the linchpin of an small business marketing strategy, any local business owner who isn’t considering their social media presence is losing out on some of the best opportunities to stay in touch with existing customers, entice new customers, and keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the community that affects their bottom line. Catching the attention of nearby customers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and, increasingly, Snapchat, is nearly a guarantee of seeing a boost in sales and clients. Here are a few ways that local business owners can get more social media shares and more attention to their business on the major social media networks.
Connect Social Media Profiles to Business Listings and Website
Start with a coordinated suite of online business pages. Every business should include its own website, its listing in a local US business directory, a Google My Business page, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. That may seem like a lot to manage, but they each only take a few minutes to set up. Once they’re set up and linking to each other, there are tools that automate many of the tasks associated with keeping up an active social media presence.
Claim Business Pages at Major Online Review Sites
Online reviews are a major driver of customers to local businesses. Statistics show that customers are more likely to see businesses with a lot of positive business reviews when they search for local services and products, and are more likely to trust those that are highly recommended by their friends and neighbors. Just like other social media driven sites, it only takes a few minutes to claim and personalize a business listing at the major review sites, and again, it only takes a few minutes a week to check in on the reviews and respond to them.
Encourage User Generated Content
User generated content, commonly called UGC, is a new buzzword among small business marketing specialists. What it means, in a nutshell, is find ways to get customers and potential customers to post stuff about businesses they like, preferably at the business’ site. UGC can include something as simple as online business reviews, which can be republished or referenced on the business’ own website and social media accounts – but some businesses get really creative with UGC. A restaurant, for example, might encourage customers to post photos of their meals or of parties at their venue, tagged with the business name in a Facebook mention. Real estate agents may offer to pose for a signing photo when clients sign the final papers on their new homes. Posting those photos and sharing them help publicize the business and increase their online visibility.
Get Listed in Local Business Directories
Businesses that are listed in a wide range of local business directories increase their chances of being found by customers and mentioned on social media. Directories maintained by local organizations are especially good for this kind of sharing, especially if they publish “Best of…” articles to boost their own online presence. Sharing links to those articles is a great way to advertise and encourage customers to share news about local businesses.
Post Business Videos
Surprisingly, slickly produced videos aren’t the most engaging ones for local business customers. People like to feel like they know the owners and staff at their favorite businesses, and slick production values don’t offer that same personal feeling. Focus instead on giving potential customers a peek behind the scenes – “Check out the pouring skills that give our barista Mark his championship edge!” or “How excited were we to get our new shipment of luxury yarn? Just watch!” Facebook , Instagram and Snapchat make it simple to go live and post videos that customers will love – and share.
Do Something Good in the Neighborhood
Sponsor a local basketball team? Post pictures of special moments. Hosting a paint night at the venue? Make a Facebook event from the business page and share it, encouraging friends and customers to share it as well. Follow up with photos of attendees posing with their finished masterpieces – and don’t forget to tag them in the post. Tags ensure that the photos – posted by the business – will show up to their friends and encourage them to share in the fun next time.
Talk to Local Reporters and Bloggers
Get established as a local expert on relevant industries and topics. When reporters want to feature a quote about new home prices, be the one they call. If they need a quote on wedding trends for a bridal article, volunteer a quote. Wellness coaches can opine on health and nutrition topics, retailers on the hottest new toys for the holiday season and so on. Ask the reporter to drop an email when the article is published so that the business can share it on their website and list it alongside other honors in the business directory listings.
All this may sound like a lot of work, but it takes far less time and energy than many other marketing efforts – and the price can’t be beat. In most cases, everything listed here will cost a business nothing but an hour or two of time, requires surprisingly little skills, and have a big payoff in increased business and new customers.