Social media is one of the most important parts of any business’ marketing strategy because it is your opportunity to develop relationships with people you may not have otherwise been able to. While it’s great to have fans from all over the world, if you run a local business, you’re going to need local fans.
Let’s talk about social media strategies that will help you develop a local fan base.
Before we start, you need to have an understanding of how important social media is to your business. There is a reason people spend so much money with social media advertising, and the market cap valuations don’t lie: Facebook is worth $300 billion, LinkedIn is worth $31 billion, Twitter is worth $16 billion, and Google is worth $527 billion (with Google search making up a large part of that number).
Instead of paying for the advertising, what if you had a direct connection to these potential future clients because you earned it versus paid for it?
This is the same principle that applies to SEO. You can develop two-way conversations with your local social media fans and attract them to your business. At the end of the day, you need to be out in front of as many people as possible, consistently, to stay top of mind, and there is nothing more popular than Facebook.
Facebook trumps other social media platforms in terms of its user base, so the following few paragraphs will give it the attention it deserves. For my industry, real estate, Pinterest and Instagram do very well because they are highly visual. However, Facebook is by far the best place to start for most businesses.
Your Local Facebook Strategy
Start by analyzing your Facebook profile. Is your Facebook cover photo engaging and capturing the attention of your visitors? Don’t be afraid to put a CTA in the photo that encourages people to click ‘like!’
Your Goals on Facebook Should Include:
- Building brand loyalty
- Creating raving fans
One thing business owners and social media strategists need to understand is that you have to develop an honest relationship with your local fan base first before Facebook can be used as an effective customer acquisition tool.
One example of articles that perform well with fans is local guides, no matter the city. For instance, whether it’s first-time home buyers in Raleigh, NC or the best things about Buffalo, NY, these posts are easily relatable for local people and they have a vested interest in sharing great information about where they live!
Facebook is an incredible opportunity to create a fan base that is essential to your local social media strategy.
One of the easiest ways to build brand loyalty is to share valuable content that also demonstrates your expertise on the subject. One question you need to ask yourself before you post is “Am I helping or am I advertising?”
For example, one of the things we share with our fans in Raleigh, NC is our local Real Estate Market Reports. Since one out of every five real estate companies is sharing these local reports, we needed to make ours stand out. We did this through both infographics and videos that you can find on our real estate blog.
How Can I Grow My Local Social Media Fan Base?
Besides creating engaging content you will need other ways to connect with your fans, and there are several strategies that work well with local businesses on social media:
Local Social Media Engagement
Engagement is more than just posting and hoping someone responds. In fact, this is where many businesses fail with social media.
Local social media engagement is about listening and responding.
You’ll need to find the systems, structures, and formats that work best for both you and your audience. This means analyzing everything from the way you structure your posts to the time of day you share them. We use a tool called Buffer to assist with this. You’ll want to figure out what gives you the highest possible chance to maximize engagement.
The ultimate sign of respect is listening, caring, and responding to someone even when you may not have the time or energy. This is an absolute must because it is a reflection of your brand as a whole, which could impact your followers’ decisions of whether or not to purchase from you.
Local Social Media Groups
If you search Facebook or other social media platforms, there are large community groups organized by city, county, or region. Connect with your local community by joining these groups and stay active by sharing valuable information, such as current events or other community insights. You can write an article on your website, drop the link inside the group, and send traffic to your page. These are targeted visitors, as your local audience is beginning to recognize your brand while also keeping you top of mind.
You can take it a step further and set up a service so that when someone clicks the link in this group, they are invited to like your Facebook business page. There are many large online marketing companies that utilize this strategy to bring new followers to their page and stay in touch with the local community.
Local Events in Your Area
We write about events in Raleigh, NC and drop the links into Facebook groups that have a combined 100,000 members. Recently in Wake County, there was a real estate tax adjustment that many homeowners didn’t know about. We wrote an article that encouraged people to reach out to us for free home valuations and offered links to the new Wake County tax adjustments. This took less than 40 minutes to put together and promote, and led to a handful of leads.
If you host events in your area, this is a great way to increase engagement from those that follow you on social media. Whether it’s an event you are hosting or one that you’re attending, you want to be sure to announce that you’ll be there.
Provide your followers with information on where to find you and even encourage them to approach you with a question or handout!
When posting, you’ll want to add a photo with a call-to-action to drive more engagement and spark interest. For the example below, you could add a picture of last year’s company outing at the state fair.
Anyone else going to be at the State Fair tonight?
If so, look for us in the bright neon blue shirts and ask us about ‘What Ryan did on his day off… you won’t believe it!’
This is a conversation starter. It not only encourages people to look for you, but it encourages them to engage in a conversation by asking what Ryan did on his day off.
Anyone else going to be at the Carolina Hurricanes game tonight?
We have something special we are giving away to those who LIKE, COMMENT, and SHARE this post at the game!!!
This leads us into our third local social media strategy, which we call social media gamification.
Local Social Media Gamification
Contests, giveaways, prizes, and a little friendly competition!
If you aren’t already harnessing the power of local social media gamification strategies, you need to start today.
There are several ways to do this. First you need to understand what your goals are. For example, if it’s to obtain more email addresses, here is an idea of what we did to accomplish that:
We ran a Facebook advertisement for Halloween in which we used a large glass jar and filled it with candy corn. We took a photo of the jar and wrote:
Who’s ready for a GIVEAWAY?
To be eligible to play, you must LIKE and SHARE this contest on your Facebook Wall!
We set up a landing page in which people were given the opportunity to submit a guess and their email address, and announced the winner via email.
On the page was a picture of the jar and a video that welcomed people to join in on the fun. If you want, you can also drop a line about your business that showcases expertise and provides value.
You won’t believe how many people will start sharing, liking, giving you their email address, etc.
This needs to be a consistent thing, so try doing it once per month and experimenting with different strategies!
Final Thoughts on Building a Local Social Media Strategy
A local SEO strategy is crucial for businesses, and the same goes for local social media marketing.
If you’re focused on growing your social media accounts, these strategies can help you do that as well as help your content go viral. There’s a lot of information online on how to grow your social media presence, and it starts with putting the time and effort into growing as well as giving back to the people who follow you.
One of the best ways to approach a local social media strategy is to watch how some other business accounts interact with their followers. Take what you like from what they are doing and apply it to your own strategy!