Image Credit: Álvaro Serrano
It’s hard to imagine any kind of digital marketing campaign these days that wouldn’t include social media. After all, Facebook alone now boasts 2 billion users, and the number of consumers who use social media only continues to grow.
Of course, how different brands leverage social media (at least effectively, anyway) varies widely. Indeed, the social networks that any brand should focus on, and the strategy and tactics it should employ, will depend a lot on its industry and its business model.
And local marketers are no exception. After all, local businesses target local consumers, so the social tools they use to do so (and how they use them) is going to differ from how, say, a multinational brand or online retailer does. So to that end, we chatted with 5 social media experts to get their two cents on just how local marketers can tap into social media to drive more foot traffic through the door.
1. Use Facebook Hyper-Local Ad Features
When it comes to local social media marketing, there’s more to it than just engaging local influencers. Indeed, there are also a lot of paid advertising options that can help you reach your target market, says Liesl Barrell, CEO of ThirdWunder:
Facebook's hyper-local paid features are extremely useful for SMBs. You can now target not only by city, but by specific area codes, or a geographic radius. So if you run a gym or a restaurant and you want to [target] people who live or work in those areas, it's very easy to pay to reach them. Plus you get to define all sorts of other potential factors that may make them more likely to be interested in your offering, whether it's that they're vegan, into crossfit, or recently became engaged.
These kinds of hyper-local ads, moreover, can be leveraged to convert users into in-store customers without them ever having to leave the Facebook ecosystem. For instance, the Agendize scheduling app integrates seamlessly with Facebook so local business can accept bookings directly from their ad or Facebook page.
2. Caste Your Social Net Wide
Just as local marketers have to look beyond Facebook’s free marketing tools, they should also look beyond Facebook, itself. As Brendan Sera-Shriar, Cofounder and Conversion Strategist at DayChamp puts it:
Most SMBs have played around with Facebook ads but there are many other channels not being considered. Channels like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc., have yielded tremendous ROI for big brands and ONLY now are some SMBs starting to jump on the bandwagon. The key, is determining which channels are best for your business. Every campaign is unique and not all channels are created equally.
Of course, the most targeted social channels will depend largely on your business model and target market. Not only are different social networks better suited for promoting different kinds of products and services, but they also depend on the audience you’re trying to reach. For instance, whereas Millennials dominate on Instagram and Snapchat, Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers tend to be more active on Facebook.
3. Don’t Overlook Business Consumers
Some social networks are better understood in terms of purpose rather than audience demographics, and LinkedIn is a great example of this. As Mitch Sweibel, CEO of MOM Cleaning points out:
[Many] SMB’s are cognizant of all the channels but don’t use them in the appropriate way. Their content lacks substance or the strategy across channels is incoherent. If any channel is overlooked, however, it is probably LinkedIn. We work in the B2B space and LinkedIn has been a great asset in building our professional network.
The point is that you should never overlook business consumers -- the intersection of B2B and B2C marketing. If there’s a way your business sells your products or services to companies rather than just individuals, then LinkedIn is a place where it be running those campaigns.
4. Create Content that Generates Demand
Once you’ve identified the best social channels for your campaigns, you have to engage users on their terms -- i.e. in a way that adds value to their interaction with your brand -- and a great way to do that is by producing value-added content that helps generate demand for your products and services. As Stephanies Presta, a TV Media Sales Associate at Rogers Communications, explains:
SMBs and Local Businesses often overlook their social media channels and blog. Creating and posting quality content is crucial to create a consistent buzz around your business. It is also a cost effective way to drive attention and traffic to your website. You can look to specialists, enthusiasts, or experts in your industry to help create relevant content for your brand, including video and photos.
Of course, value-added content can take a lot of forms: recipes by grocers, size guides by clothing retailers, DIY repair tips by hardware stores, etc. The point is that there are no shortage of ways to create meaningful content for local consumers that also helps generate demand for your products and services.
5. Measure, Adjust, and Measure Again
Sometimes we get things right, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we did the right thing in the wrong way, and sometimes we did the wrong thing altogether. That’s why it’s important to know how you’re going to measure the success of any social media effort before you get started, says Marc Poirier, CEO & Co-Founder of Acquisio:
Make sure you have clear visibility on the real outcome of your efforts as you move along. An easy way to do this is to [simply] ask all of your new customers how they found you. Log how many calls and messages you received, how many people visited your location, assess the revenue and margins those represent, and keep an eye on profitability.
The point is that having a benchmarks and KPIs by which to measure the success of your social marketing efforts is just as important as not give up on social media altogether just because your efforts don’t succeed the first time. Rather, look at what the data tells you, figure out where you might’ve gone wrong, and take another shot at it. Social media, after all, is just too large of a marketing channel to ignore.