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.