Small business marketing can feel like a never ending seesaw of challenges and successes. On one hand, you’re constantly trying to compete against the big box stores and franchise companies that can offer lower costs and instant convenience.
Yet, being a small business also means you have a team of built-in supporters and community members who want to see you thrive.
If you’re struggling to strike the right balance in your local marketing efforts, we can help. For the first installment in a 3-part series on local marketing, this article will show you how small businesses leverage social media for better brand awareness. Here’s how you can maximize your social discoverability by creating and sharing the right content.
Plan and Strategize Content
Most of your current and future customers live within a 10-mile radius of your business. That’s why, before you start paying for promoted ads on Facebook or Instagram, you need to understand what these people like and need. Buyer personas aside, testing out content on social media can help you discover what’s the most engaging for your audience. In turn, this will support the creation of a well-planned, long-term content strategy that caters to their specific needs and desires.
If you’re not sure about which content you should post or where it should be promoted, here are three quick ideas that could work well on both Facebook and Instagram.
Create a Local Guide
Tapping into local interests and events is a big part of local marketing. This requires you to look beyond your business to ask questions about who your customers are as people. What landmarks do they visit on days off? What’s their favorite spot to watch the game? Creating a local guide is one of the best ways you can paint a full picture of your customers’ lives – and see where your business fits in.
For example, you might create a list of top 10 hiking spots near the city. If you’re a brewery or eatery, this could tie into your services because people might stop and grab a bite after hiking. If you’re a local grocery store, you might include a roundup of fresh fruits and veggies that are in season in your state. Get the jist? This kind of content is clickable, shareable fodder for Facebook and Instagram advertising.
Start a Giveaway
Giveaways are easy, exciting ways to generate audience engagement. Plus, nearly every business can participate in a giveaway that will create value for local customers.
One way to approach a giveaway is to create a package with other local businesses. For example, a restaurant might team up with a local B&B to provide a romantic dinner and one-night stay package for a local couple. Or, an adventure tour company and a brewery might team up for a day of adventure followed by free drinks. Working with another business can help you tap into their audience and raise awareness amongst new, engaged customers.
Giveaways are also a great strategy for topping off your email subscriber lists. Requiring an email for the contest entry allows you to add more qualified local customers to your funnel, who can be retargeted at a later date.
Sponsor a Local Event
When you’re putting efforts towards local marketing, every minute and cent counts towards your bottom line. Sponsoring a local event is a simple effort that yields a big return on your investment.
Whether its a charity run, a school fundraiser or a county-wide bake-off, every community has its fare share of local events. Signing up to sponsor a festival or event can help you boost your brand ethos and increase awareness amongst new, qualified audience members near you.
If you’re not sure how sponsorships tie into your sales goals, consider how the event can leave customers intrigued and wanting more. For example, sponsorship will usually get you a branded table at the event. View this as an opportunity to share information about your brand, give out free samples, and ask for email sign ups. All of these things establish a memorable connection in consumer minds between the event, your brand, and what you offer.
Optimize Instagram Marketing
Instagram is a great way to promote national and even global brand awareness. And while this may boost your follower count and likes, it doesn’t do much for driving qualified leads in a local market. Fortunately, there are three simple features that can be optimized to grow your local audience on Instagram.
Adding hashtags to your photos can help people discover your business based on local keywords. Here’s how it works: Let’s say one of your audience members is following #atlantaevents on Instagram. Images with that tag will show up in their newsfeed even if they aren’t following the user who posted the photo. Users can also search through photos based on a hashtag if they’re looking for something specific.
Tagging your business location in photos is a great way to put your company on the map – literally. Someone who clicks on a location will be brought to a page that shows a map of the area, along with the top photos for that tag. This makes it easy for customers to see where your business is located and get a feel for what people do there.
Tagging people and businesses is an easy, effective way to increase your photos’ discoverability. One way this benefits you is because it’ll show a customer or partner that you appreciate what they do, likely eliciting engagement from them. Additionally, it’ll add your images to the tagged photos section of a person or place.
Optimize Facebook Ads
If you haven’t explored the world of Facebook advertising, it’s time to start. Facebook advertisements can be useful because they’re better targeted to a specific location and demographic than other forms of advertising. This means that your ads will only be shown to people who live within a certain radius of your store, ensuring that your advertising funds are only targeting qualified people.
Target Your Neighborhood
Social media and local SEO can work together in seamless, profitable harmony when strategized correctly. For example, when you run Facebook ads for a certain neighborhood, they will help establish your business as a leading provider in that geographic location.
If you run Facebook ads for a year that use keyword variations including “Plumber in Capitol Hill” or “Denver Plumbers in Capitol Hill” this will send a message to Google about what you specialize in. Over time, your company’s name will show up higher in Google results when people type in “Capitol Hill plumber.”
Share a Coupon
Who doesn’t love a coupon? Even better if it’s for the cafe or boutique around the block. People love supporting local businesses, and sharing a discount is a great way to stay top of mind.
Since sharing a photo of a coupon will only go so far, we recommend sharing your discount via Facebook’s advanced targeting options. These allow you to promote your coupon to a specific audience based on the demographics you describe. After a few tests, you can view the analytics to learn which audiences are most receptive to the discounts.
For more tips on small business marketing success, stay tuned for the rest of our series on local marketing mastery.