You’re looking for a low cost, highly targeted way to break into your local market and you think social media could be just what the doctor ordered.
But having a Facebook page and a Twitter profile just isn’t enough. If you’re going to stand out from the crowd and actually get noticed, you’re going to need a plan.
Finding your unique voice
It all starts with identifying the unique personality of your small business. Lots (and I mean LOTS!) of your competitors have a social media presence. With so many options to choose from, prospective customers want (need) to be wowed.
Everything from your profile, to your photos (meaning real photos of real folks doing real stuff--locally), to each and every status update should exude your unique voice.
When it comes to creative copy, the folks at ModCloth always do a bang-up job…
In the example above, ModCloth could have just taken the easy way out and said they had three new items for sale. Instead they used the status update to get their audience to start thinking about spring and the idea of dazzling the night away. I don’t even know what a frock is and I still found myself trying to decide between 1, 2 or 3.
Building your audience
Once you find your unique voice (don’t overthink it), then it’s time to start making connections. If you’re building your audience, start by inviting any friends, family members, and personal connections that you think will actually be interested in your products and services and willing to get involved in the conversation.
Focus less on quantity and more on quality. Social media is not about empire building, it’s about finding the right audience and sharing the right content so you can grow your business.
Beyond prospective customers, you should also target other local businesses that offer complimentary products and services. Doing so can not only expand your reach, but open the door for possible strategic partnerships and/or collaborations—and that’s always a good thing.
Creating customer loyalty
This is where the bread gets buttered. Using social media to break into your local market means you’re going to have to manage and maintain your profiles on a regular basis.
That means you’re not only going to have to post interesting content, but you’re also going to have to respond to comments and look for opportunities to create individual connections. After all, you want to get people excited about your brand, purchase your products and services, and hopefully tell all of their friends.
In the example below from Tin Man Sweets, you can feel the genuine gratitude. They’re a new business and they’re pouring their heart and soul into it, and they take a second to stop and say thanks to everyone who came to their open house—how awesome is that?
Showing your social media some love
To make sure you’re giving your social media the love and attention it deserves, carve out time at least twice a week to share content and respond to your customers. By making it a regular routine, you’ll be able to maximize your time and efforts—a definite plus for any small business owner.
You don’t have to farm your social media management out to some “young person” (something I hear all of the time from small business owners).
In as little as 15 minutes, twice a week, you can start to build your following, share special offers (one of my favorites right now is “$1 OFF a medium or large pumpkin spice latte” from the folks over at Wunderbar Coffee House, and have some fun with it.
By: Shawn Graham
[Image: Flickr user Jeff Sandquist]