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Social media tips for local businesses

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Social media can be a powerful tool for local business owners wanting to promote their brand. However, the tools that you’ll need to build a local social media presence are slightly different than the ones you’d use if you were targeting a national or international audience.

The tips in this guide should help you to promote your local business to relevant social media users and, ultimately, increase your sales!

Use local images and hashtags

Make sure that every time you post to social media you include locally relevant hashtags. This can simply be the name of the city or town your business is based in, or you can tag photos of local landmarks.

Posts focussed on local events is another way to go – for example, if your city is hosting a marathon, and you sell handmade greetings cards, jump on the bandwagon with a post like: ‘Everyone taking part in #localmarathon is a winner today! Congratulate the runner in your life with one of our handmade cards’.

If you’re at a loss for relevant tags to use, find other local businesses on social media, and see what they’re using.

Get your customers to promote your brand

Your existing customers are one of your most powerful tools when it comes to building a local social media presence. Think about it – the majority of your customers will be locals themselves, and a lot of their friends will also be local. With a tiny incentive, you can make them all into brand ambassadors for your business.

The first step is getting them to follow you on social media themselves – you can do this by promoting your social media handles in-store. Just make sure you mention that your social media channels are the first place you’ll post news of exclusive events and discounts.

Once you’ve got some followers, take it a step further, offering a small discount or contest entry in exchange for a post that tags your account, or for tagging a couple of their friends in your post. And always remember that the saving or potential prize has to be tailored to the amount of effort you’re asking for – if all they have to do is tag a friend, then a small incentive should be good enough, but if you want them to create an original post featuring your product and to tag several friends, it’ll need to be a little larger.

Cross-promote with other local businesses

In the quest for social media engagement, other local businesses don’t have to be your competition. When done strategically, a social media partnership with another local business can benefit you both.

The first step is to consider potential partners carefully – the ideal ones are those in industries adjacent to, but not exactly the same as yours. This way, your respective followers will be likely to have similar interests, but there won’t already be too much cross-over. For example, if you sell high-end bikes, then a store selling training shoes, or a company making high-energy snacks might be a natural partner for you.

A joint campaign could take the form of a contest to win goods made by both of you, and promoted to both of your followers. To enter, users need to follow both accounts, and tag a couple more friends. To make it worth your while, only partner with businesses who have an established local social media following of their own.

Take an interest in local issues

Building a local brand can be done most effectively when you show that you’re an invested member of the community. A great way to do this is to get involved with issues and causes that are close to the hearts of people in your area and target demographic.

The key thing is not to be inauthentic, as your customers will smell the cynicism a mile away. But if your restaurant does provide free catering for the local youth soccer league, or your hair salon offers free cuts for residents of a nursing home, tell your followers about that!

Engage with local influencers

Influencers are an important part of the social media landscape, and this is just as true locally as nationally. Depending on the number of followers they have, and whether it’s a hobby or a full-time job, you may be able to partner up with an influencer in exchange for complimentary product, or you might have to enter into a paid partnership.

The secret to using influencers successfully is to choose ones that have a strong local following, rather than just being locals themselves. For example, a local restaurant blogger is likely to have a strong local following, as their reviews will be worthless to people outside the local area, while a fashion blogger who happens to be based in your area could have followers all over the world. Most professional influencers will be able to provide you with a breakdown of their followers by age and location, so don’t be afraid to ask.

The final consideration is that the pairing needs to feel genuine. The post will most-likely have to be tagged #ad or #paidpartnership, but that doesn’t matter when the influencer and the product feel like a natural fit. As when you’re partnering with other local businesses, the influencer doesn’t need to be in exactly the same sector as you, as long as their followers are in your target demographic, and their interests and your product have some kind of overlap. Incorporate these tips into your marketing strategy to build a local social media following. And remember that social media is at its most powerful when you’re posting regularly, and your followers are engaging with your content – so once you’ve followed each of these tips once, go back to the beginning and start again!

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