Social media marketing: the key for small businesses to compete locally

In theory, it has never been easier to promote your small business than it is today. In practice, it’s rather more challenging than that. When everybody is doing it, it can be difficult to stand out. Good social media marketing can make all the difference, however, especially when it comes to building up your local customer base.

Different platforms

Many people go charging into social media marketing and try to promote themselves on every available platform. It’s easy to get overwhelmed like this, and if you’re posting the same things everywhere, people are unlikely to respond well. Each of these platforms has its own character, so get to know them before you start posting, and do some research to find out which are most important to your customers. Facebook has the widest overall reach, but if you’re trying to reach young people, you might be better off focusing on Instagram, while if you have a product with strong visual appeal, Pinterest might be a better choice.

Video content

For visually appealing products, video can be a great addition to pictures. It’s also a really good way to form a connection with people that feels personal, almost like speaking face to face. You can post videos about your business on sites such as YouTube and then embed them in other forms of social media. If you make them entertaining or useful, other people will then often share them further. Videos are ideal for showing local people what your premises look like, to help them identify you, and to encourage them to visit.

Find your niche online

Compared to the ‘scattergun’ approach of traditional channels such as television, using the internet, small local companies can zero in on their target markets and gain traction quickly at a fraction of the cost. Online customers are actively looking for services and if you make sure your company is visible, you can naturally build an audience.

As a case study, take the property market. This sector has been completely transformed over the last 10 years by the growth of the web, and apps in particular. House hunters are using the internet to browse properties, view floor plans, research neighbourhoods and compare local prices before they even meet with an estate agent. Nevertheless, buyers will always seek out the kind of local knowledge that only an experienced property expert can provide. Using social marketing to present your company as an expert in your field will help instill trust among potential customers. For example, the social and online profiles of Hamilton King, a specialist property management firm, are a mixture of practical property maintenance tips and information about new local developments.

Making a local impact

The social media revolution is frequently hailed as a global phenomenon, so why is it such a big deal at a local level? The answer is simple: where people used to look through the telephone directory, they now turn to the internet to find out about local businesses. They use review sites such as Yelp, they use local social forums, and they ask their friends on social media for recommendations. If you have an active presence there, you’ll be the first business in people’s minds, the first they see. If you’ve built up a good following, you’ll also be the most popular. No other form of promotion can do this much for you.

Social media marketing is much more than a gimmick – it’s the number-one way for you to reach the customers of today. Make sure you don’t miss out.