Social Media Marketing for Local Business in 2019

December 23, 2018

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Written By Dan Brohman

Most local business owners know that we are living in what is the most competitive time that ever existed. 

With so many different ways to promote your business and slice down the audience into niches, competition is fiercer than ever! There are plenty of platforms where you can advertise and market your business, but believe me- when it comes to making an epic splash with a small budget you really can’t beat social media marketing. 

Social media is one of the best places where you can solidify your brand, establish a loyal audience and get creative with content. Unlike other advertising methods, you won’t have to invest a lot of money on a hope and a prayer. You can switch up your campaign fairly easily and not lose valuable money in the process. You can also diversify your message across many different platforms and eliminate those that don’t work for you.

What Is Social Media Marketing?

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first define what social media marketing actually is.

Essentially, the name of the game is getting as much traffic to your website and buzz about your products or services as possible through all of your social media sites. As each site is different, the content promoted on all of them will be totally unique and tailored to that platform. What works on Facebook or Instagram will not work on Twitter, especially since the former two platforms operate best when saturated with visual content like richly hued pictures or infographics.

There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • What works for one platform will not work for all of them. For effective social media marketing each campaign has to be uniquely tailored for the platform that it is being showcased on.
  • Canned content will get you nowhere on social media. Today’s audience is much savvier than many companies give them credit for. Make sure that your content is totally compelling and unique.
  • If at first, you don’t succeed- try, try again! Marketing your local business properly on social media takes a lot of trial and error so don’t be afraid to switch it up!

Why is it important for your Local Business?

Marking your product or service on social media might seem like something that only really big companies do, and smaller businesses can feel a little bit out of their league or intimidated by the process. Unlike many other marketing methods, a local business can jump right into social media marketing with only a limited budget and a lot of creativity. social media marketing differs from other traditional methods of advertising because what works gets clicked on and spread through your customers directly. 

This allows your local business to quickly assess what campaigns are working and what aren’t. Since social media marketing permits you to experiment in a low-risk setting, your local business can switch up campaigns and do A/B testing on the fly. Plus, any social media marketing campaign gives businesses a very valuable insight into the ways that their customers think. This information can be used to tailor future campaigns or even modify products or services to better reflect the customer’s base needs and wants.

All of your competitors are doing it

Simply put, if you’re not promoting yourself on social media you’re behind the curve. All of your competitors are using social media marketing to amplify their brand and attract new customers. Not only is it a proven method of attracting and keeping the interest of customers, but it is also a great way to build search engine credibility. A simple social media marketing campaign can work wonders for any local business, so if you’re not already operating one, you need to start right away.

You Will Maximize Your Digital Footprint And Reach Your Customers In New Ways

Having a greater social media presence over a number of different platforms will allow your local business to expand your digital footprint and attract new customers. Companies that are more active with their social media marketing automatically are rated higher by Google in organic SEO. That means that your local business is more likely to be found when users type in certain phrases or words into the search engine bar. We all know how important SEO rankings are, so the added boost from Google is another fringe benefit to maximizing your social media presence. 

Since you should direct all of your social media feeds back to your local business website, you’ll be increasing traffic and enabling potential customers to access you from a variety of different sources. There really is no downside to maximizing your social media presence.

You Can Enhance And Reinforce Your Brand Through social media marketing

Proper and effective brand building is one of the best things that you can do for your local business. There are certain brands, like Apple and Harley Davidson, that inspire such brand loyalty that many of their biggest fans would never dream of buying from a competitor. Think about your own personal life. You probably have that one friend who simply won’t stop talking about how great the new MacBook is and how everyone should buy one. Apple is certainly not paying your friend for her glowing recommendation, but she is hooked on the brand and the promise that Apple makes the best computer related products in the world. She is inspired to share this information with you. That kind of promotion is worth its weight in gold and you can duplicate it for your local business. 

Branding is vital to the success of your local business, especially in the early stages and social media marketing is undisputedly the best way to amplify and add some excitement to your brand. Start off by making accounts on various platforms and work with your existing brand to see how customers respond. Use imagery, text, infographics, and other applicable formats to play off your existing brand and begin to solidify the message as customers respond. Using all of these different platforms will also give you great experience. You’ll be able to understand your brand better simply because you’ll need to explain it through a variety of methods. This simple practice will give you far more insight into the direction that you should be taking as a company. Additionally, through trial and error, you’ll also get your customer’s attention and be well on your way to success!

social media marketing Is A Creative Way To Market Yourself That Won't Break The Bank

I’ve already discussed the money-related advantages of running social media marketing campaigns as opposed to advertising in more traditional ways, but we want to emphasize this point. Social media promotion isn’t generally free, technically. Sure, you can sign up for the majority of the platforms for free and the organic buzz generated is free, but there are some cost components as well. You can buy paid advertisements, similar to PPC, on many platforms. The cost is generally reasonable and you’ll be able to drill down into your audience in a very detailed way. If you opt for a paid social media marketing campaign you should really understand the ins and outs of your local business audience down to a forensic level. Paid campaigns are great for seasonal offers or special deals. 

You also need to make sure that your content is on point. That might mean hiring a copywriter or someone who can put together amazing graphics for your brand. It also could mean educating yourself with a social media management program or course. Too many businesses half-heartedly put up a Facebook post every couple of months with no real intention behind it. You will not get the results that you want that way. Make sure that you invest in creative people and education before embarking on a campaign to promote your local business on social media.

What Can Effective social media marketing Do For You?

If you use social media to promote your local business in an intelligent way the payback is tremendous. You’ll get more customers, increase brand loyalty and stand out. You might even have a piece of content that goes viral! The sky is the limit.

You Can Promote Content In A Creative Way

Assuming that you have a blog, you can link it to all of your social media accounts. You can even write micro-blogs or create infographics to explain and emphasize salient points about your local business and the direction that you’re taking. social media marketing allows you to play with different formats, so don’t shy away from video or even inspirational quotes that will resonate with your key audience. 

There are plenty of free editing programs for images and video like Adobe’s All-in-one video editor or Canva, a program designed for editing images. Almost anyone can master the easier parts of these services in an afternoon. When you mix up different formats on your social media, you create a tremendous amount of interest and the likelihood that information will be shared. You can also make posts complimentary. For example, if you have a blog post about organic cat food you can always link to it on Instagram (with a great accompanying image) and then post a video clip about high performing, energetic cats on Facebook. Your Facebook video could have a link to the cat food article as well as one or two statistics about how higher quality cat food makes cats happier and more athletic. 

You Can Get Feedback In Real Time

The likes and shares that your content gets will be a good indication as to whether or not customers are responding, but you can also get additional feedback in the form of a customer survey. Give your customers an incentive to fill out the survey, whether it is to be in the running for a great prize or get a certain discount on a product or service. 

Don’t be afraid of the feedback. If you see an overwhelming negative trend take action to fix it right away. Since the ultimate end-game is to make more sales, look at any type of feedback as positive and actionable. Make sure that you respond to any customer concerns or feedback as quickly as possible and also that you let them know when you’ve made positive changes. Keep them in the loop as your local business or service evolves and they will feel like they’re a big part of the process. This will foster customer loyalty and only enhance your brand further. 

Soliciting customer feedback is one way to keep a step ahead of your competitors. It is highly unlikely that all of your competitors are doing the same thing. Some of them might even be hiding their heads in the sand and refusing to face hard truths about their businesses. By simply taking the time to ask questions and listen to answers from your customers, you are staying one step ahead of the game and making sure that your products or services really address a need in the market.

Encourage Your Customers To Share Content

A big part of social media marketing is getting your customers directly involved in your local business. One of the best ways to do this is to get them to share content with their personal networks. 

If you post something really cute and shareable, like the cat video that we mentioned earlier, this might be an easy feat. People want to share things that they find personally relatable, cute or inspiring. You can embed a simple “share now” prompt into the video and your customers could spread your message and call to action for you! If the post, product, service or message is a little bit less enticing you can always get them to share it by offering an incentive. Give them a discount on your product or service, allow them access to an exclusive part of your website or even enroll them in a contest. Get a little bit creative and don’t forget to perform a little A/B testing (more on that later) to see what works and what doesn’t.

How To Maximize Your social media marketing

Have I convinced you to step outside the traditional advertising box and give social media marketing a go? If you’re ready to get started but unsure about how best to go about it, this section will give you a few more tips an tricks.

Do "A/B Testing"

“A/B Testing” is a way to see what works for your local business and what does not work. Essentially when you do “A/B Testing” you’re gauging engagement or response to a certain type of post or platform. This type of testing is critical for anyone who is looking to make a big splash on social media. What works for one company will not for another, so it’s important to ascertain which style of communication and platform is most effective for you. Let’s look at some examples of effective “A/B Testing”.

  • Experiment with different kinds of hashtags and messages to see which ones get the most shares.
  • Use a certain type of style and language for a week and then switch to different one to gauge response.
  • Keep an eye on your platforms and assess the numbers every couple of days to see which ones are getting the most play and which ones aren’t.

Beware of falling into the trap where you don’t give the platform enough time. Don’t put up a post, wait ten minutes and deem it a failure because nobody engaged with it. The trick is to look at everything that you’re putting out on social media and eventually streamline your message so it is most effective and sharable. This exercise is also a great way to solidify your brand!

Check Out What The Competition Is Doing

This one should come as a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many companies simply do not know what their competitors are doing! How can you hope to compete if you’re in the dark about what is going on in your industry. 

Keep tabs on the social media accounts of all of your competitors and vigilantly check out what is working and what isn’t. Use this information in your “A/B Testing”. Although I want you to have your own voice and direction, there is nothing wrong with taking cues from others in the field. Don’t copy your competitors, just derive inspiration from what is working for them.

Keep It Creative

The cardinal rule of effectively promoting yourself on social media is to keep it creative at all times. Boring posts and updates will sink a company’s social media account faster than just about anything else. Nobody will share a post that is dull, uninspired or sloppy. 

When it comes to social media marketing campaigns there are very few bad ideas. You can get a little silly, a little tangential and a little out-there. Just be very careful that you don’t make any major faux pas through tone-deaf messaging, posts that could be construed as being socially insensitive or any posts that are untimely. 

An example of a post that fell flat comes courtesy of Adidas, whose post titled “Congratulations, you survived the Boston Marathon” would have been a cute congratulatory statement about one of the most grueling races in the world if it didn’t come on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombing. Adidas should have known better and their post was met with horror and disbelief. 

You can avoid a similar fate. When it comes to getting creative, let your freak flag fly. Nothing is off-limits. When it comes to walking the line of controversy and offense, always err on the side of caution. It’s fine to be wacky, but the internet does not forgive statements that are tone-deaf or inflammatory. You don’t want to go viral for the wrong reasons!

Examples Of Successful social media marketing Campaigns

I’ve talked alot about the virtues of social media and explained how it can work. The question that could be on your mind might be “does it work?” The resounding answer is “yes!” Here are some excellent examples. Apply similar techniques to your social media marketing campaign and watch your local business soar.

The Cell Phone Case Revolution

We all know that we need cases for our cell phones because dropping them could be a costly and annoying experience. Cases protect these special little personal computers from cracks and scratches. 

In an industry that is exceptionally competitive and arguably over-saturated it is difficult to stand out among the big guys, but Peel did a great job of making themselves known. Peel’s major differentiating point was that its phone cases were as cool looking as they were functional. Social media is predominately a visual medium, so it was the perfect way for Peel to show off some of its funky and stylish phones! 

Peel focused heavily on Facebook videos and told their story through slick, direct, short vignettes that allowed viewers to check out their underdog tale, as well as get a glimpse of some of their red-hot phone cases. The combination of both allowed Peel to wedge itself into the coveted niche of functional and stylish phone cases and get a loyal audience.

Bringing Mattresses To The Forefront

Let’s be honest, mattresses are not the most exciting thing in the entire world. 

Even though we use them all of the time, mattresses are not something we think about with a lot of regularity. Casper had the tough job of making mattresses exciting and they did it by utilizing social media in an intelligent and deliberate way. Casper relied on humor to get their message across, leaning heavily on Twitter for bite-sized messages that reached an audience who was sick of waking up with a sore back! 

Casper also got really creative with some of their messaging and wound up penning haikus on social media (from the mattresses themselves) lending their product a humorous and personal edge that got people laughing and thinking about their sleep quality. 

Casper proves that you don’t need a sexy or cutting-edge product to be memorable. They were able to elevate the humble mattress with a little bit of creativity and charm.

Reinventing A Key Brand

Casper and Peel might be newer brands, but established companies are stepping onto the social media marketing stage as well! One of those players is G.E., or General Electric. G.E. understood the important role that social media plays in today’s competitive market and decided to capitalize on it in a series of poignant Facebook videos that highlighted all of the great things that G.E. does around the world. 

G.E. started to look outside of the microwave box and focus in on other innovative products that it created. These products have been used to save lives all over the world and tell the story of G.E.’s humanitarian side. 

Additionally, G.E. decided to focus on its global employees, an intelligent move that further endeared them to their audience. By humanizing itself, G.E. managed to stay totally relevant and impressive in a marketplace that is dominated by hot startups and companies that are much younger. Their campaign shows that not only can an old dog learn new tricks, but that dog can actually perform the tricks better than dogs half his age. G.E.’s longevity and continued global innovation are a testament to its ability to change with the times and become more flexible.

Conclusion

Jumping into a social media campaign might be a little scary for new companies. You don’t want to look foolish. You don’t want to invest a bunch of time or effort into something that is not guaranteed to work. You worry about sending the wrong message or your post going viral for scandalous reasons. I understand. So much of social media promotion comes down to trial and error. 

Ultimately by following the steps outlined in this article you can be one step ahead of the game when it comes to maximizing your local business social media presence. Simply walk into your campaign with your eyes open, continue to look at the numbers and level of engagement, and admit when you’ve made a misstep or error. Developing an effective social media campaign often comes down to a lot of trial and error. Don’t be afraid to fail. You can always pick yourself up again and start with a new medium. The point is that you need to be out there trying, because your competitors are surely doing the same thing! 

Social media can be a god send for your local business. You can make a big splash with a small budget and inspire greater brand loyalty. Give it a try and watch your local business grow and flourish!

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