Local businesses have a big opportunity with social media.
But they have been burned in the past.
Many local businesses – restaurants, dentists, etc. – have been told that they should “go social”.
And that’s certainly good advice. But it’s a little misleading in the fact that it doesn’t explain what is required in order for a local business to build a following and earn new customers with social media.
The local businesses you see succeeding with social media have invested time into it. Sometimes it’s the owner. Sometimes it’s an employee. Sometimes it’s someone they hire specifically for the social media job.
Any of those is a big commitment. So if you’re not ready for that then social probably isn’t right for you.
But if you’re still interested then here are a few tips for building your following…
Tip #1. Quantity
Gary Vaynerchuk has been saying that companies really should be producing 20,000 pieces of content every year if they want to take full advantage of the opportunity.
That number will startle a lot of people. It also makes one post every few days look a little ridiculous.
The most successful folks on social media post a lot. At least every day and usually more than once a day. And on multiple platforms where the content is specifically made for each platform.
Now, you don’t necessarily need to create 20,000 pieces a year to increase your local business. But a good mindset to begin with is to aim to create the most within your community. The most out of any business. Not just your competition although that’s a good benchmark as well.
Quantity serves a few purposes…
First, it allows you, or whoever you hire, to learn what works. Second, when people find content they like they can’t get enough. It’s like when your favorite show on Netflix runs out of episodes. You feel lost. If people can’t get content from you they will find it somewhere else.
What content should you create?
- How-to information
- Documenting your work and life
- Question & Answer
Anything you can think of, even if it seems simple, can be great content.
Tip #2. Guesting
Another way to create content that will help you build your following is guesting.
When you’re starting out you likely have 0 followers. It will take awhile to build that following just by posting on your own profiles. You have to get in front of the people in your area that are using social media.
Guesting is getting yourself or your content on other profiles and platforms.
Traditionally, this might have been a dentist going on the local morning news for a segment on dentures. Or a restaurant owner going on for a segment about healthy eating. That kind of thing.
It’s the same concept except now you can do it with social media.
Identify the most popular social media users in your area. You can search local hashtags (more on that next). You can ask friends and customers who they follow in the area. Usually you’ll find:
- Business owners
- Television and radio hosts
Anybody can be an influencer in your area. Find out who they are and ask them if there are things you could do to help them with their content. A good way to offer value is to trade your services. Offer them your product or service for free.
Tip #3. Hashtags
Every local community has hashtags. The main ones will be the name of your city or town. Even the county or the specific part of your big city. The state is another one that can work. Or the area where you live that encompasses multiple counties.
Use these hashtags with everything you post. Try to use at least 3-5 hashtags with every post. You’ll get in front of everyone that is following those local hashtags.
Tip #4. Active In The Community
The traditional methods still work for getting a following on social media. When you’re at a charity event as a sponsor you’ll find that everybody has a phone. And those are all people that are posting to social media.
The key is, again, quantity. Go to as many community events as you can. Look for ways to earn positive attention. A gimmick at your booth. Free products and services. Things that people will want to experience and share on their social platforms.
People will see that content and if you have a social profile they will often tag you and you will gain followers as long as they also see that you have an active profile of your own.
Tip #5. Traditional Outlets
I mentioned the traditional method of being a guest on the morning news. This is actually still a great way for local businesses to build their followings. TV, radio, etc. Anything that doesn’t cost too much money or that you can get with trading your product and services is a good option.
Reach out to your TV stations, radio stations and newspapers and ask what kind of content they’re looking for. Maybe there is a regular segment you can do or a regular article you can write. Newspapers are struggling to keep on writers right now. Someone willing to write quality articles for free is appealing and it can still reach a lot of people.
There is opportunity for your local business to get a local following. A following that can bring you all kinds of attention and business. It’s not free in the sense that you need a lot of time, energy and sometimes a team. But it is cheaper than a lot of traditional advertising. Use the tips above if you’re willing to make the commitment.