The Web is global, but your customers may be local. Follow these tips to bring your message closer to home.
Social media has the ability to touch people around the world, but your best customers may be right around the corner. Here are some ideas to help you take advantage of social media for reaching local customers.
Join Sites that Attract the Right People
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the royal three, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, but they don’t always focus on a local audience. Change that up by joining location-specific groups on those sites or create a group of your own. Tap into niche sites designed for local audiences, like local magazines, newspapers and blogs, government sites and Chambers of Commerce.
Leverage Sites with Built-In Social Tools
Like Facebook and LinkedIn, there are lots of sites that are specifically social, but these days, everyone’s getting in on the action by incorporating social tools into their sites. Look for those that target your audience. Once there, search the header and footer of the site to find ways to participate in blogs, Q&A’s, forums, discussion boards and the like for free. It’s what I call site swag.
Many websites are designed for a broad audience, yet there are those that allow the visitor to select by city or neighborhood, like the review site Yelp or mobile-centric Foursquare. There are also hyperlocal sites like Everyblock and Outside.in. Also remember that neighborhoods have distinct personalities. Make a real connection with the people there by talking about their concerns and interests. This is your opportunity to touch customers in a way big businesses can’t.
Online Yellow Pages
Even Yellow Pages are getting into the act. Kudzu is a good example, combining a directory with shared advice, discounts and reviews. Localndex has a mobile version. The beauty of Yellow Pages, and other locally targeted niche sites, is that they attract an audience looking for something in particular, which means they have the mindset of a buyer rather than a browser.
When writing about your business for directories or commenting on social sites, use geographically and culturally relevant words. Use the actual city and neighborhood names and the more familiar terms and nicknames, as well.
These will help people locate products and services in their area. It will also help to distinguish you from other regional or national companies. When you can’t build these words in, add them as tags. Add your zip code as a tag, too.
Social Tells a Story
Data at the micro-level isn’t always easy to come by without custom research, but reading posts and comments on local social sites may yield valuable insights about customers. People will also say things on social sites they may not feel comfortable saying to your face; that can be especially useful for improving or coming up with new products and services.
Go the Distance
When it comes to using social media for local marketing, it’s up to you to be where they’re looking. Always take into account how people find information.
Residents and commuters will read local blogs or the newspaper, or simply notice a sign on the street. Destination seekers may research a new restaurant at a review site. For personal services, like a haircut, people may ask for advice from their online social network. Visitors from out of town will discover the new and unusual in a travel guide like TripAdvisor.
Keep Tabs on Conversations
It’s important to see what people are saying so you can respond in a timely manner, correct misstatements and see if you’re getting any traction. Use free tools like Google Alerts, Samepoint, Socialmention and Tweetdeck.
Track Your Progress
All this social media participation isn’t valuable unless you’re getting results — more foot and website traffic, inquiries and ultimately sales. Use tools like Google Analytics to measure your website traffic and to see where it’s coming from. Look at the stats on the social sites you’re using, review your transaction data and don’t forget to ask callers and visitors how they heard about you.