What are the Benefits of Local Social Media? (+ 5 Ways to Use it)
Social media is not new, and neither is social media marketing for businesses. If you own a small or locally-based business, you might have tried using social media in the past and not had success. It’s possible that strategies used were meant more for general or enterprise level businesses.
What you need are social media tips for local businesses that will help you succeed in that niche. There are hundreds of millions of users active on various social media platforms, but you need to focus on finding those close to you. Use this guide to help get your local social media campaign started!
What is Local Social Media?
Marketing through Local social media is similar to general social media marketing but focuses on your local area and audience. Most social media platforms, like Facebook, have changed over time to the point that increasing your audience organically is far less effective.
That’s where local social media comes into play. There are new strategies and platforms you can use to engage with an active audience in your city or town. That way, you have a way to get your brand and expertise in front of real potential customers.
Here is a quick list of the best social media sites for local businesses:
With the right strategy in place, you can gain a following on these platforms that come to you when they need your expertise, products, or services.
What are the Benefits?
If you’ve tried social media marketing before and not had success, you might be skeptical that local social media would be any different. Thankfully there are a number of proven benefits for local businesses to incorporate local platforms and strategies into their marketing.
Here some of the main benefits for building a local social following:
- Cuts your ad costs by focusing on a smaller local vs. global audience
- Lets your loyal customers speak positively about your business where all their friends, family and followers can see
- Allows you to easily promote your new products and services to a group of interested and local people who already like your business
- Gives you free mass publicity to get your message out to your local audience
- Lets you respond to negative reviews and comments to turn a disappointed customer into a happy, loyal one
- Focuses your marketing and content strategies to more specific topics that would interest your local area
These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg. There are several more that you can discover by using local social media platforms in your marketing campaigns. Here’s how you can do it.
5 Ways to Use Local Social Media
If you want to get started with social media marketing for local businesses, we have a few tips to get you started. When you combine these with our local SEO guide, you’re giving your local campaign the best chance of success.
1. Consider Using Targeted Advertising
If you’re a small local business, you likely don’t have a massive budget for advertising. We mentioned above that one of the benefits of local social media marketing is you can hyper-focus your ads to save money. Instead of marketing to a broad audience, focus it on a small geographic radius around your location.
This makes for a smaller audience size, but focuses on people who are the most likely to become a customer. It spends your advertising budget more efficiently because people who live further away from you aren’t as likely to make the trip to you. They’re more likely to go somewhere closer to home.
The best social media sites for businesses have advertising platforms that allow you to set your ad targeting according to a certain radius around you. For example, here is what Facebook’s local targeting looks like:
It will enable you to set a range between 10 and 50 miles around a point you set. You can center it according to the name of your city or town, a specific address you include, or you can drop a pin manually. If you make a boosted post, you can set the radius even smaller than 10 miles.
Facebook and other platforms will usually show you an updated potential “reach” in several people as you adjust your targeting. That lets you get a better idea of how many customers you might get, as well as how much you might spend throughout your campaign.
2. Join Local Groups & Use Hashtags
Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have groups that people can create and join according to various interests. It could be according to a hobby, general topic, professional occupation.
Other platforms like Twitter and Instagram will have localized hashtags that people use to talk about events and topics that concern their area. For your local marketing campaign, you should look into local groups and hashtags made for your city or town.
As for why you should join these local groups, the key is to look for groups that have a natural connection to your business. Let’s look at a general search for a city like Austin, TX:
In this search, there are already some groups where a local store could lend their expertise: Moving to Austin and Indians in Austin are two good examples. If you have a moving business or anything else that provides products and services to people who are new to the city, you should join them.
The strategy is to help answer people’s questions. Avoid trying to sell to people as you might get kicked from the group for spamming it. Instead, lend your expertise. Give answers to people when they ask about something where you have apparent authority. Grow your brand as helpful and trustworthy. You can gain good local followers of your business account that way.
For hashtags, you can use any number of free online tools that will tell you what the most popular hashtags are in a given city. If you search Instagram hashtags that are liked in Austin, you will find:
You should research the most used and liked hashtags in your market to see what you should be using in your posts. You can also use it as a basis to plan content to share on social media that is more likely to engage with your local audience.
3. Engage With Other Local Businesses
Networking is a vital part of the business world. Local social media can help you network with other businesses in your area that are not direct competitors. Follow other neighboring businesses or businesses that are associated with you in some way.
For example, if you hire another business to renovate your office or cater an event, give them a follow. Whenever they have a promotion, you can share it with your followers and provide a good testimonial for their services.
When you do this for business next door to yours, you might get some browsers to step through your doors as well. You might also get some reciprocal promotions and sharing from them if you help them first. It’s a quick, free, and easy way to increase your following and business networking at the same time.
4. Celebrate Your (Local) Community
People like to be proud of their city, town, or community. If you are a long-established business in the area, you probably know the parts that people gravitate towards the most. One effective strategy to gain new local followers on social media is by genuinely celebrating the parts of your community that you like.
Share pictures of your favorite parks, events, and landmarks. Talk about big news about your city that affects everyone in the community, including you. These kinds of posts are great ways to attract positive attention as well as engagement, likes, and shares.
5. If You Can, Use Your Existing Customers
One of the best parts of social media for businesses is getting user-generated content. The best content to promote your business will come from your existing customers. When they post about your business, products, or services in a positive light, it has much more impact than when you post about yourself.
There are a few ways you can help get more mentions from your customers. One way is to ask them directly. When you gain a customer that buys your product or enlists your services, ask them to share a picture of them on their social media accounts.
Another way is to hold a contest where people submit pictures or posts of them using your products or services. You choose the best as the winner and give out a prize. It’s a great way to get people actively posting and sharing pictures and content about your business.
Local social media marketing is a great way to engage with and convert new customers from your local audience. It has numerous benefits compared to general marketing, including being more affordable and letting you promote your business to an interested audience.
There are a few strategies you can use to get started on planning your first local social media campaign. The key is to be authentic and to focus your targeting and messaging on your community. Focus more on increasing your followers with real help; that way, they will trust your brand and be more willing to engage with you in the future.