Social Media Essentials For Local Businesses: How To Make The Most Of Your Social Media Efforts

Has your business been on social media for (what feels like) practically forever? Are you wondering when all those hours you spend posting are going to start paying off?

Even if you’re just now getting started using social media for your business, it’s important to understand a few things first, if you want your efforts in the digital world to have a real world impact on your success.

UnderstandIng and implementing these simple tips will help you build a following faster, and you’ll begin to grow and expand a community of loyal customers both on and offline.

Here are my top tips to help you make the most of your social media efforts:

Part 1: Set your business up for success online.

The first tips on this list are all about getting focused and setting up the foundational details that contribute to your social media success.

  1. Get clear on the results you expect from social media.

Of course, to be successful with social media, you have to determine how you will define your success. Are you hoping to increase awareness with your online presence? Make online sales? Attract other local businesses for possible partnerships?

Regardless of what you want to achieve with your social media presence, set one clear goal or objective. This will help you to focus your attention in the right areas and see the biggest results moving forward.

  1. Define your target audience online.

Especially if you’ve been in business for a while, you probably have a pretty good idea of your customer demographic. However, the great thing about social media is that you can attract more of your absolute favorite customers to work with, if you get strategic about where, what and when you’re posting. So go ahead and get picky--who is your ideal target customer? Next, we’ll move into how you can attract an audience full of them.

  1. Select two social media sites as your main focus.

Different social media sites attract different demographics and interests. For example, as you might know, Snapchat skews younger, while frequent Facebook users tend to be 25+. Twitter, Instagram and all the others vary, as well. That said, you’ll want to figure out where your target audience is spending their time online. Once you do this, select the two, most relevant sites and plan to focus your energy there -- especially in the beginning.

It’s also worth noting how your target audience is spending their time on those platforms, so that you know the types of posts they’ll enjoy seeing from you.

  1. Decide how you’ll communicate and interact with your audience online.

What I’m talking about here is sometimes called “persona” or “voice”. It’s important to be intentional about how you’d like for your followers to feel when they see and interact with posts from your business.

A good way to get started with defining your persona or voice is to think about what people might be experiencing immediately before, and while, reading your post or reaching out to your business online. Are they killing time at work? Scrolling on a tablet while relaxing in front of the TV? With this context in mind, you’ll be able to shape your message so that it speaks directly to your ideal customer.

  1. Consider tools and/or team members to handle social media management.

As frustrating as it may seem, social media is something that requires time and effort if you want to use it successfully for business business. Still, you don’t have to go at it alone. When you’re just starting out, it’s helpful to work with an expert -- at least while you’re getting set up and established on your two primary sites. Down the road, you could set guidelines and delegate work to interns, etc.

There are also a ton of tools that make managing your social media accounts a whole lot easier. Check out my resource page for tools I use to help me manage social media accounts for my clients every single day.

Part 2: Establish your profiles and gather ideas for consistent social media posts.

6. Make sure your business info is accurate and consistent everywhere online.

As a rule of thumb, your business name, address, and phone number should appear on every page of your website. It needs to be consistent with online sources like Google and Facebook. Check out this free Moz Local tool and see if your listings are consistent.

7.  Use local keywords in your Facebook Page settings.

If your business is on Facebook, which it should be (it’s important to set up a Page, even if you don’t plan to post there regularly), you should incorporate local keywords into your Page settings. Include your city, industry and other terms people might be searching related to your business. Place some of these in the name of your page, the description and “about” section.

8. Set up events and community Pages as it makes sense for your business.

You may have heard that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to build a following on Facebook and this can be true in many cases. However, some businesses are seeing huge success with a slightly creative approach to how they’re using Facebook as a marketing tool.

Two examples of strategies that seem to be working well for businesses right now include:

  • Starting community pages (where businesses post info/tips/entertaining content that would be relevant to their ideal audience)

  • And creating events (surrounding a promotion, local happening, etc.).

Explore these options to gain a leg up on your competitors.

9. Use local hashtags.

This is a great tip if you plan to use Instagram or Twitter as one (or both) of your primary platforms. Here are a few ideas for local hashtags you could monitor and incorporate in your posts:

  • School hashtags

  • Event hashtags

  • Neighborhood/Township hashtags

  • Related business campaign hashtags

Hashtags help people discover your posts and allow you to contribute to local conversations that are happening online.

10. Set up Twitter lists to monitor hashtags.

If you plan to use local hashtags, set up a Twitter list to monitor these. Follow local influencers (city government officials, news anchors, athletes, school administrators, etc.), to keep an eye on tweets with hashtags you could use to join local conversations that make sense for your business.

Does your social media presence need a refresh? Download this free checklist (with space to brainstorm!) to start implementing these 10 tips today.

How to Use Pokémon Go Lures for Your Small Business

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, then you’ve been missing the crazy phenomenon that is Pokémon GO. In the past week, this free app has been downloaded more times than Tinder and has surpassed Twitter in active daily users. Still not impressed? Gizmodo is also reporting that people are using the app for an average of 43 minutes a day, which is more than Instagram and WhatsApp!

Still feeling indifferent? According to Inc., small and local businesses are benefiting like CRAZY from Pokémon Go. They are using Lures, which attracts people to their location.

If you think this is just a nonsense app that won’t do much for you, think again. It’s not just kids using the app, adults are using it, too. Here’s what you need to know.

Poké Stop

A virtual location that coordinates with a real-life location. What users see on their screen (depending if they have turned on their augmented reality) is a blue pop-up. Once the user clicks on this pop-up an image appears of the real life location.

Poké Stops allow users to collect items, such as Poké balls, Poké eggs, potions and medicine. These Poké Stops regenerate after about 10 minutes, so people will either continuously stick around or people will frequent the location more often.  

First things first – find out if your location is a Poké Stop. The locations of these stops have already been predetermined by Niantic Labs (the creators of the app). You can download the Poké Go app and check or you can download an older game called Ingress that has a map of these locations (Poké Stops are pretty heavily correlated to locations with Ingress).

If your location is a Poké Stop, congrats! This will help effortlessly increase foot traffic. If not, no worries, there is another option to attract people.

Lures

The app allows users to literally lure Pokémon to their location. You can use an actual lure or incense (we’re using Lures for this). The difference is that using incense is free, but doesn’t do much. Lures cost money and have way more influence on attracting Pokémon.

Throwing down a Lure at your location attracts Pokémon that are visible to everyone. So people will naturally flock there to be the first to catch the Pokémon. The Lure works for 30 minutes and can be repeated as many times as you want.

Here’s how Inc.com broke it down.

What's even more incredible is just how affordable luring is. Let's do the math. With $100 netting you 14,500 Pokémon coins and an eight-pack of Lures costing 680 Pokécoins:
14,500 Pokémon coins / 680 = 21 eight-packs of lures
(21 * 8)/2 = 84 hours
$100/84 hours = $1.19 per hour

So you spend $100 and put out lures for 24-hours straight for 3.5 days. The good thing about Lures is that you can use them when you want. You don’t have to use them back-to-back. Let’s say you want an increase in foot traffic to your restaurant around lunch time. Set a Lure from 11:30-12 p.m. and another from 12 – 1 p.m. You could set another one for the dinner rush.

Here’s how to set a Lure:

  • Tap the red Pokéball at the bottom of your screen
  • Tap "Shop"
  • ·Scroll down and tap the Lures to purchase. You'll be re-directed to your app store's payment system
  • Once back in-app, tap the red Pokéball again, then tap "Items"
  • Tap the Lure to activate!

Lures benefit small, local businesses whether they are a Poké Stop or not. And they can be used anywhere! Parks, restaurants, gyms, churches, car dealerships, grocery stores, pet stores, gift shops – you name it!

If you think this isn’t worth your time, because this frenzy will end soon, you may be right. But your business has an opportunity to increase brand awareness AND sales (depending on your business) right now! This solution isn’t an evergreen one, but it’s timely and relevant right now.  Plus, customers will remember you six months down the road as a great location for catching Pokémon. 

Spring Clean Your Digital Presence

The sun is shining. The flowers are starting to bloom. It’s springtime! And you know what that means – spring cleaning! This deep clean doesn’t just involve cleaning your home, it also applies to your business. So in addition to giving your closet and garage a cleaning, it’s time to give your online presence a thorough scrub down.

Here’s 3 ways to spring clean your digital footprint.

1.    Your Website

I see a surprising amount of businesses with old addresses and phone numbers listed. I’ve even come across a business with a listed phone number that doesn’t allow incoming calls, only outgoing! How crazy is that?

Take some time to go through each page of your website and scour for information to update. Check your business hours, phone numbers and address. If you have team members or prices listed on your website, double check that everything is up to date.

Do you need to update your portfolio page? Do you need to add or remove a service and/or product? Double check your privacy policy and your Terms & Conditions, if you have them. If you've added more clients, add them to your portfolio or gallery. Has your blog seen better days? There's no better time than now to update it! I know this seems obvious, but a lot of businesses actually let this fall on the back burner.

Remember if your website is in disarray, people will assume your business is too.

2.    Social Media

Many people think that they don’t need social media, because their business already has a website. But social media doesn’t exist to replace your website, it’s there to complement it. Now’s the time to update all the images so that your branding remains consistent. So I’m giving you full permission to delete all those old crappy photos, even if they do have likes and comments. Delete old tweets, posts and links that no longer pertain to your business. 

Now's a great time to follow new industry influencers and thought leaders. Refreshing your follow list is a great idea, too! Don't feel bad for one second for unfollowing somebody that doesn't contribute to your happiness or success. 

If you want to go one step further, shake off those social media cobwebs and produce fresh new content. Your audience will thank you for it.

3.    Google Listing

This one is super important, but sadly gets neglected the most. Your Google listing is the first thing people see when they Google your business (not the direct URL). The Google listing includes your location, hours, phone numbers and a link to your website (another great reason to update this info). Google also pulls images from your social media and different online sources to display when people search for you, so make sure those are updated.

And if you haven’t claimed your business yet on Google, do it NOW.

Spend a WHOLE day spring cleaning your online presence if you have to. I promise the time and effort is worth it! You know that amazing feel when you give your house a deep clean? You'll get the same feeling when you spring  clean your digital presence!