Today more than ever, a brand's social presence is critical, no matter the size of the business.
On one end of the spectrum, small local retailers need to drive traffic to their shop. On the other end, franchise and enterprise businesses with multiple locations need to master a local social presence to effectively manage their reputation.
Most business owners or marketing teams (in the case of large businesses) aren't aware of the critical conversations that are happening on the local level, and this can be due to a few factors, such as not understanding or underestimating the power of local marketing, a lack of resources or an emphasis on other marketing priorities.
Regardless of the reasons, it's never too late to implement a strategy that will boost your local following and spark engagement among local consumers. Here are six steps you can take to build a local social presence.
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1. Claim your local profiles
By not claiming local profiles, responding to feedback in a timely manner and controlling local messaging, businesses are putting their reputations on the line, which can result in a major crisis for their bottom line. The impact of poor consumer feedback can be detrimental to future sales.
Ninety percent of consumers read online reviews before they visit a business, and every 1 star increase in a Yelp rating translates to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue, according to Forbes. Responding to positive reviews is just as important as responding to negative reviews. Based on your involvement or lack of involvement, consumers note whether you value their feedback or not.
The first step to claiming your local pages and finding pages that may already exist is to search these channels using keywords about your industry and your company name. As part of your search, seek out your company name and phone number. In step No. 2, claim unclaimed pages. For help with specific channels, visit:
2. Frequently post content to all local pages
Simply claiming your local pages is not enough. According to local social expert Afif Khoury, CEO and founder of social media marketing and management tool SOCi, if you don't frequently post to your Facebook pages, Facebook actually deranks your pages. Further, if you don't post often, consumers may think your company went out of business and/or can't be relied on for social media support.
The bigger your company is, the more overwhelming it can be to post content frequently to all local pages, but there's a way to get relief when staffing extra help is not possible.
Khoury believes that when the page's targets are different and far enough away from each other (New York or New Jersey, for example), posting a lot of the same content is okay, but you want to mix in some hyperlocal flavor. "Always … create content that is on brand, and don't ever post just for the sake of posting," Khoury stated.
3. Post content that is relevant
While Khoury's recommendation about posting content that has local appeal can work well, it's imperative that you know who your audience is.
Facebook Insights offers great morsels about your target consumers. Through Facebook Insights, you can learn which towns your audience lives in, what gender they are and how old they are. Plus, with Facebook Lookalike audiences you can reach new people who may be interested in your page because of some type of correlation they have with your existing customers.
4. Build and implement an engagement strategy
There are two parts to this strategy:
- On your social media accounts, engage with followers who engage with you.
- Get out in local communities by engaging with other local business.
Part 1: Engaging with followers
Do the basics, which should be a no-brainer if you're comfortable on social media:
- Post engaging photos and videos.
- Ask questions and conduct polls.
- Respond to the social media engagement on your page and via private messages.
Part 2: Engaging with other local businesses
I've been doing what I'm about to tell you for years to build a community and a following, drive website traffic and create brand awareness.
I create a list of other local businesses where my target audience may shop without including direct competitors. I then analyze what they are doing – I don't engage with pages that have not posted at least within the past two weeks, and I only engage with pages that are posting great content.
Next, I look for opportunities where the business posts something that interests me and then I engage with it. My favorite way to engage is to ask questions. Most of the time, I'll get a reply. But, when engaging with a business, be sincere. How many times have you've seen someone leave a comment that says "Great page!" or "I love your work!" For me personally? Too many times. Don't engage for the sake of engaging. Instead, engage with other business pages that posted content that actually interested you, and you want to build a relationship with that business.
5. Use location-targeted Facebook and Instagram ads
Facebook and Instagram ads help you to get your message in front of the right people. With location targeting, you can refine the particular audiences you want to reach, including everyone in a particular area, only people who live there, individuals who were recently in that area and individuals who are traveling to this location.
6. Create location-based groups
Creating and managing a group can be a time-consuming task when you are first getting started, but all the hard work can have a big, positive impact on your bottom line. Not only do Facebook groups help foster community, but they reach more people than organic page posts do. Buffer details how to create a Facebook group, build a community and increase your organic reach.