Heard the phrase, ‘the world is a small place’? Well, social media has made it even smaller and the six degrees of separation have been reduced to just two or even one, courtesy social networking. Forget about people to people interaction, it’s even impacted the way businesses connect with their customers. Social media marketing has allowed businesses to take their products and services directly to their customers. Today, a business is not an amorphous entity for customers; social media has made them a living breathing thing that can personally interact with its target audience.
The growth of social media has also led to the emergence of local social networks that enable businesses to target audiences in a specific geo location. It doesn’t matter whether you are a small business, local business or an enterprise organization with a global footprint. It makes perfect business sense to target local markets because people are increasingly looking for local businesses to satisfy their varied needs and requirements. You will be missing out a huge opportunity if you don’t tap into the potential of these local social networks for business benefits.
Take a look at ten social networks that are perfectly suited for spreading brand awareness and credibility that is location specific:
The name gives it all away doesn’t it? It’s a network that allows users to connect with people in their neighborhood, including, yes their next door neighbors as it were! It’s making local business marketing even more localized. We aren’t talking states or cities here, we’re talking neighborhoods. NextDoor covers 12,600 neighborhoods in 50 states and your business must be on it, pronto! It can be used to create the right kind of buzz around your business by spreading the word through the community.
You can join NextDoor as an involved neighbor, because the website doesn’t offer a special designation for businesses, currently. So, just create an account as a neighbor on your neighborhood website and start interacting at an interpersonal level with your neighbors. By doing so, you can slowly and surely market your products and services within specific neighborhoods. Think of yourself like the friendly neighbor who loves helping out. That’s NextDoor marketing for you, simplified!
Facebook is the Big Daddy of social media and although a global network, it also offers features that allow local businesses to optimally leverage its social network. This is illustrated by the fact that in an average week, local business Facebook pages attract 645 million views and 13 million comments. And here we are talking about US small businesses on Facebook. This gives you an idea of the immense potential of this platform.
To get your local business page up and running on Facebook, you need to create a Facebook profile and create your business page while logged in as your profile. You have to pick from a list of categories on offer which include:
- Local business or place
- Artist, band, or public figure
- Company, organization, or institution
- Brand or product
- Cause of community
A word of warning – Only choose ‘Local Business or Place’ if you actually have a physical storefront. After this, choose the name of your page, enter your business information, and proceed to fill your page with interesting and useful content that helps build your audience.
Here are a few tips to make sure you optimize your Facebook presence for your local business:
- If your business operates out of separate locations, create different pages for different locations
- Share all the information that you have mentioned in the ‘About’ section of your business page. This ensures that the data appears in location specific results.
- Give your target audience reason to continuously engage with your Facebook business page.
Make sure you understand the working of the Facebook business page to optimize its use for building your brand amongst your local audience. Keep learning and keep implementing.
Topix calls itself a news community that offers local news and discussion forums that cover all cities in the United States and numerous cities the world over. According to its website, the sites connects 12.4 million people to news and discussions that matter, pertinent to every US town and city. Now many of these people are also searching for businesses and you can use Topix to reach your local customers. Do this by posting a classified listing for your business.
You can create your own profile on this site and offers links to your content. You can even contribute forum posts with your business logo and information about your location. Submit your website or blog, submit news stories, share links to news stories, and do everything to make your business more visible on this site.
Use your imagination to make your presence on Topix work for your business.
By January 2013, Yelp hit 100 million users. You don’t need any more reason to use Yelp. It is the one of the most popular resources for people looking for information about local businesses, and it makes more than just good business sense to be on it. If your business is already listed on Yelp (automatically) just unlock the business page, and start filling in your business’s Yelp profile. If your business is not listed, you need to create a listing and then get started on the business essentials. The prerequisites of a ‘hard working’ Yelp profile is your business name and category, detailed address and contact number, high quality pictures, business info, and any extra information, including reviews of existing customers, that will help a target customer make a positive decision regarding your business’s products and services.
Yelp offers you plenty of ways and means to engage with your customers and monetize your Yelp profile. For example, a feature called Yelp Deals helps convert your Yelp profile visitors into paying customers; you can reply to the reviews posted about your business; you can also keep track of how well your business page is doing on Yelp by monitoring the metrics through your Yelp dashboard.
An important parameter that determines the success of your Yelp profile is the number or reviews that it is able to generate, so don’t forget to request customers to leave a review of your business and its products and services on your Yelp business page. (note: this is illegal according to Yelp guidelines)
Don’t think of Foursquare as a social network that just allows you to list your business. It’s a whole lot more. It’s a social location data company and with a 30 million strong community worldwide. Foursquare is one social network that you mustn’t miss to target your local customers.
Customers use the Foursquare app on their mobile phones to “check in” to the locations they have visited. So, if they have visited your store, they will check into your location on Foursquare. This location can then be shared with their Foursquare friends, who note that the store was visited by their trusted connections, and chances are that they will visit it too! They too check into your store on Foursquare when they visit you. Every store visitor thus becomes an influencer and brand advocate by checking into your business location on Foursquare. This is viral marketing at its best.
In order to market your business using Foursquare, you need to start off by claiming your business’s location and your venue (by verifying it). You can then begin to use your venue to send specials, discount offers, deals etc. to engage with people who have already checked into your location or those who are near your location. You can also use something called Foursquare Specials to attract new customers. This feature allows you to create special offers for people who check into your location. For example, you can create an offer for the first 15 people who check in, or for people who checked in with their friends and so on and so forth.
You can even create a Foursquare page that will allow you to keep on top of all your Foursquare locations, and where you can offer helpful tips to your customers and also ask them to leave their impressions of shopping at your store or dining at your restaurant, or for that matter, using your products and services.
More businesses looking for profitable local footprints are turning to Pinterest. It’s definitely the hot new social media network on the block, and by 2012, it had already notched up 40 million users, within 2 years of its launch.
But not all local businesses can use Pinterest. That’s because visuals play a key role in marketing your business on this social platform. If your products and services depend on their visual appeal for getting sold, well Pinterest is the right platform for you. So it’s the perfect choice if you are selling cakes, jewelry, handicrafts or any other product that will are ripe for showcasing with visuals in the form of pictures.If you have decided to use Pinterest, make sure that your product images and videos link to your websites, so that users can purchase them or learn more about them. Something else you need to consider is that your Pinterest account must be setup comprehensively and in the most visually engaging manner possible. Make sure that you enter your target keywords in the ‘About’ section while describing your business and of course its location. Create individual boards with respect to your product categories and mark them properly. Each individual board should have images of products that are available on your website. Each image that you pin must have an easy-to-understand description, mention its price and any other information that will help customers make an informed decision regarding the product.
But that’s not all–once you have created your Pinterest Account you also need to become an active Pinterest citizen who engages with other citizens in your area, including competitors, influencers, brand advocates and customers. Interaction leads to better visibility for your business, so make sure you keep interacting and building your brand on this social network.
You must have heard about or even used something that went by the name of Google Places; well that’s now Google+ Local. No, it’s not shut down yet, but it’s being merged with Google+. The Google Places Dashboard has undergone regular upgrades since the time Google Places pages were replaced by Google+ local pages.
If you had a business listing on Google Places, then you will have a Google+ local page now—you only need to claim your ownership of the page. But if you didn’t have a listing, you need to begin by setting up a Google+ profile, and then signing into your account to create a Google+ local page for your business. The success or failure of your business’s local page on Google+ depends on its completeness and accuracy of information. So provide all the business information that Google asks you for, and make sure it’s as accurate as possible. Once you create your page, you will need to verify it, which is necessary for your business page to be added to Google+ local.
Making sure that you provide all the necessary business information, i.e. optimize your profile to leverage its maximum potential. Here’s a tip to optimize the performance of your profile on Google+ local – Get good reviews on your Google+ local page. Ask your customers, and the people on your network to post reviews of your products and services; if you have a physical store, ask your in-store customers to post reviews on your page. Do everything and anything to encourage people to leave a review on your Google+ Local page. This will rev up your rankings on local search results like nothing else can. Of course this will only happen if positive reviews outweigh the negative reviews.
Now, I am sure you are wondering why something like Yahoo! Answers is on this list. The answer lies in the process of brand building wherein showcasing your business’s expertise and experience in its niche is a great way of promoting your brand, improving brand authority and also its credibility. You are using your knowledge and expertise as the USP of your business and to sell its products and services.
Let’s see how it works. Say you are a landscape contractor who wants to target people in Los Angeles. All you need to do is go to the ‘Local Businesses’ category on Yahoo! Answers home page, look for Los Angeles, and look for specific categories relevant to your business and identify a question within that category that you would like to answer. That’s it. Answer the question and make sure that it’s a useful answer. And make it a point to answer questions relevant to your niche regularly. Eventually, you will be seen as an authority in your niche, and the credibility that you generate will be transferred to your business as well.
If you want to make Twitter work for your local business, make sure you can connect with your customers in 140 characters.
Like other social media platforms, Twitter is naturally inclined towards being a marketing tool for local businesses and is continuously working towards becoming a profitable social media tool for them. As a business, you can use existing Twitter functionality and fit it into your marketing paradigm to target your local customers. You can target specific keywords in your Time Line; this will help you identify the people who have used your target keyword in their Tweets. Say your business is offering software development services and wants to target people in Atlanta. Targeting keywords like “looking for” “software development” and “Atlanta” will help you zero in on people who are using these keywords in their tweets. Many of these people will be your potential customers.
In order to make good use of Twitter, you must learn the art of the Tweet. All your tweets must be individualistic and conversational; also make sure that the information that you are sharing by way of your Tweets is interesting, authentic and useful. It will be a good idea to use a 70-30 approach while using Twitter to promote your business. 70% of your Tweets must be informative and provide your target audience with newer insights about your niche, while 30 % should directly promote your products and services.
Another way of optimizing your use of Twitter is identifying the brand influencers and advocates active in the location that you wish to target, and following them. Interact with them regularly to make your business’s Twitter profile more visible on their Timeline. This will ensure better brand visibility and improve virality.
If your business isn’t using Reddit, you are missing out on catching the attention of 6% of online adults who are Reddit users. You need to use Reddit simply because it served up a massive 37 billion page views last year. Couple this with its 400 million unique visitors and you have social network that is too good to be missed even President Obama thinks so! All you need to do is pick a local subreddit (category), post content that is a good fit according to your content strategy and relevant to this subreddit. If your content is good enough, it will make it to the front page of your subreddit.
So, why should this social network be on your radar? Remember those 6% adults? Well, they are going to look for a “subreddit” in their area that’s generating some interesting conversation; so make sure you choose a an appropriate subreddit with respect to the subject and the location of your target demographic. That’s how you can make use of Reddit.
Try choosing subreddits with plenty of readers otherwise your post won’t get the traction it deserves.
Your success rate of using local social networks to market your brand locally is directly proportional to how well you have understood the use of these networks and their functionality. So learn everything about them, and get started on them as soon as possible. Good Luck!