8 Steps To Effectively Promote Your Local Business on Social Media
In the past year alone, we have seen a decade’s worth of digital transformation, impacting businesses of all shapes and sizes. While larger, international organizations developed remote workflows for their newly distributed teams, smaller, local companies found themselves shifting focus from brick-and-mortar to online to keep in touch with their customers.
For small and local companies, establishing a strong social media presence is a key factor for success. Here are eight steps to effectively sculpt that presence.
1. Define your business goals
First things first: like with any other (business) initiatives, setting clear objectives is key to developing an action plan on social media. Of course, the more specific the better, but even identifying what you are trying to accomplish at a high level is helpful enough to work in the right direction.
For instance, your business goal could be to generate brand awareness around your recently opened location, maintain relationships with your existing customers who can no longer come to your store, drive traffic to your restaurant, or generate sales from your online boutique.
2. Pick your channels
Once you know what you want to accomplish, the next step is to determine where you are going to build your social media presence. Although there is no hard rule — and you will be rewarded for thinking out of the box — here is a good starting point:
- Facebook offers unparalleled opportunities to run targeted ads (see #5 below)
- Instagram is the perfect place to showcase your business visually
- Twitter is great for real-time updates (think: location of the day for a food truck)
- Pinterest gives you an edge when it comes to physical product promotions
- LinkedIn is ideal for professional service providers (legal, accounting, creative firms) and to recruit talent
- Google My Business is the place to be to show up in search engine results
- TikTok & YouTube empower you to be creative with videos
Open, or update, an account on each platform that makes the most sense for your business, and get ready to craft great content.
3. Develop an editorial calendar
Whether you have decided to establish your social media presence on one or several platforms, and whether you want to manage an account for one or multiple locations, the single most important aspect of your social media strategy is your ability to plan relevant content for your audience.
This is much easier than it sounds and only requires a little bit of organization. Putting it simply: You want to identify important dates for your business and your customers in the days, weeks, and months to come, and pin them in your calendar to make sure you post when the time comes.
Usually, such dates correspond to community and local events as well as holidays. Think farmer’s market days, charity fundraisers, local sports events, county fairs, as well as Independence Day and Thanksgiving. On top of that, you also want to communicate around sales and specials you may be offering on specific days.
4. Schedule content
From there, what you want to do is craft an ensemble of posts, anchored on those important dates, that tell a consistent story about your business, ideally resonating with your customers.
As a local business owner, you have a million things to do every day, so this is best done ahead of time. This is where the power of scheduling comes in: When you plan content and create posts in batches, you can schedule everything to be published on specific dates and times in the future, so that you never have to remember at 9 am that you need to publish something at 10 am.
Scheduling content will not only bring you peace of mind and give you productive time back, but it will also help you publish frequently and consistently deliver high-quality content to your audience and your customers.
5. Target and boost posts
This step is optional, but it can help you take things to the next level.
Depending on how your business operates, if you manage multiple physical locations, one thing you can do is decide to open one social account for each. This will allow you to customize content for each location, delivering hyperlocal content to your customers. One secret trick to achieve this efficiently is to create one editorial calendar at the corporate level and then fine-tune content for each location. This can be as easy as directing social media users to a different address in your posts.
Another thing you can do, which is completely free, is leverage organic targeting to direct your content to specific customers. For instance, Facebook allows you to do so through what is called Preferred audience (your post will be shown in priority to users matching your criteria) and Audience Restrictions (your post will not be shown to people not matching your criteria). LinkedIn offers similar capabilities via Targeted Updates.
Finally, you can boost your most important posts with ads, starting with a couple of dollars per day — and ramping up if you see fit. If you are new to social media advertising, Facebook Ads is a great place to start, with solutions specifically aimed at small business owners, while offering one of the most advanced targeting systems on the planet.
6. Engage with your community
As you publish content, get exposure, and grow your audience, you are going to receive more and more comments, mentions, and direct messages from your fans and followers.
This is the equivalent of the in-store or over-the-phone communications you would develop with your customers offline.
Most importantly, this is a signal that what you are doing is working, and as a local business that is a cornerstone of your community, you want to fuel these interactions, making sure to respond to everyone.
7. Measure your success
The beauty of digital in general and social media, in particular, is that it allows you to measure everything, in the form of impressions, video views, likes, comments, clicks, and conversions, to name a few metrics.
You want to leverage that superpower to understand the impact of your efforts and draw insights about how to best interact with your audience, such as when your customers are online, which topics most resonate with them, and the type of posts they prefer.
8. Rinse and repeat
Last but not least, you want to take advantage of those insights to do more of what works best and continuously improve your social media communication. With every new iteration of your editorial calendar and batch of scheduled content, you can incorporate what you learned to connect further, and more effectively, with your customers.
As the end of the pandemic gets closer and the economy reopens, social media presences for local businesses, which started as a survival reflex, are going to mature into a complementary revenue stream and a competitive advantage. Follow these eight steps to stay ahead.
Thibaud Clément is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Loomly.