You may remember when Facebook launched. Everyone who heard about it had an initial knee-jerk reaction: “What’s the point?” And yet, before you could say “friend request,” everyone was on the social media platform. Soon after, business pages joined the mix.
New customers and regular ones are active on social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. Studies have shown that those same social media users are most likely spending hours each day on one or all of these social platforms. Doing so, they can discover new products from businesses like yours.
But if you’re worried about keeping up with trends, going viral, or being heard in the ever-present noise of the online world, then take a deep breath. A robust local business social media strategy, also referred to social media marketing, is much simpler than you think.
The best social media sites for business can depend on your industry. For most small businesses, building an active presence on these social platforms is critical to their marketing:
Decide what’s most appropriate for you based on your business type, goals, and where your customers are. If you’re a local accountant, your presence might be a better fit for LinkedIn rather than Pinterest, where visual content is the raison d'etre.
1. Make your pages, claim your space
It might seem like a no-brainer, but the first step to launching a successful social media account for your small business is making the account in the first place.
This looks a little different depending on the platform, but generally, you sign up for a new account. When given the option to choose between a personal and business profile, choose business.
2. Stay on brand
Your local business has a unique voice and identity that customers know within seconds. Whatever your identity is, your social media strategy and channels should reflect it. What makes you different or unique and why do your customers choose you over the competition? Take a moment to think about your brand. Does your restaurant source locally based ingredients? Do you use non-toxic chemicals for your hair salon? Do you provide the best customer service in your retail store? Do you share exclusive local market trends to home buyers for your real estate business?
Creating social media accounts is a huge source of brand awareness. By ensuring your tone, messaging, and imagery are all consistent across each digital presence, you’re helping customers to recognize you immediately.
3. Let customers know you’re there
Invite people to like your Nextdoor Business Page or follow your Instagram account in the simplest way possible: Tell them you have one.
There’s no right or wrong way to do this, provided you’re polite and to-the-point. Some businesses like to run in-store promotions where liking a post or leaving a recommendation earns them a free item or a discount. Still, others put up a banner on their website announcing their new social channel. The best way to nudge people to your accounts may vary depending on your target audience. Local businesses can ask customers in person directly after a transaction while the positive experience is top of mind. In fact, it may be worth it to test a few different marketing strategies to see which is the most effective at bringing in potential customers.
Whatever path you take, be sure to communicate the value of the social platform to your customers—you’re there to help them on and offline. In most cases, customers who have had a good experience are willing to help businesses they are loyal to.
4. Reply to all
You’ll find out quickly that customers have something to say to you once your social media channels open—and you have to be prepared to respond. Social media is a way to connect across great distances despite digital barriers. People are used to talking directly to one another, to celebrities, and even to brands on social media. On Nextdoor, members that are verified residents in the neighborhood can reach out directly to local businesses and start 1:1 interactions.
This means dedicating time and resources to social media management: answering questions and responding to complaints and questions. Leaving these unattended can be like leaving a garden alone—you’ll come back after a few weeks to an overgrown mess.
Instead, take the opportunity to engage with your customers genuinely. They’ll appreciate the human touch and will remember that the next time they’re doing business with you. As a small business owner, you might have trouble prioritizing time for crafting the perfect social media profile, but with time and a reliable online presence, you’ll grow a loyal following that can be translated into offline foot traffic and transactions that will help your local business to blossom.