How to Get the Word Out Locally #1: Social Media
Tips for using social media to make an impact with a local crowd
In this six part series we will share some practical strategies that anyone - be it a small business, startup, non-profit, established company or just the individual looking to promote themself - can utilize to get the word out on a local level.
For part one, let’s get social!
It’s no surprise that pretty much everyone (and in most cases, much to their chagrin, their mom) is now using one social media platform or another. According to Pew Research, over two-thirds of the population in the US alone is active on social media, with some demographic groups approaching near 90%.
What is surprising is how few people really know how to use these platforms, especially when it comes to promoting a business or themselves. Simply being present and active is not enough to cut through the sheer volume of activity happening online, let alone grab people’s attention. Luckily, there are some very easy ways to go from an average Joe to a pro in no time.
Know Your Audience
The starting point for any successful campaign is establishing who you are trying to reach. Who are your customers? Who is your target audience? What is your goal in engaging with them? The more specific you can get in pinning down exactly who you are trying to talk to and why, the more effective you will be. There are many ways to go about this, but the basic tenets are broken down by Mandy Porta at Inc.
Once you have determined your target audience, it’s important to know on which platform(s) they are most active. This will help to guide you on how best to concentrate your promotional efforts - there’s no reason you should spend valuable time establishing a presence on a channel, no matter how popular, if your customers aren’t there.
Fortunately, the good folks at Spredfast put together some handy charts breaking down the various social media networks which you can quickly reference to find where your customers are congregating socially.
Organic is Good For You
While organic reach on every social media platform has been declining, it is still extremely important that you take advantage of all of the little things that can help bump up your posts.
- Hashtags are your friends, use them. If you are aware of specific hashtags that are either trending locally (for example, #uppervalley) or with your target consumers (like #uppervalleyproduce) and is relevant to your message, even better. Attending a local event? Use the official hashtag. Remember, using multiple hashtags in a single post is fine but don’t go overboard.
- Tagging is your best friend. This is by far the biggest missed opportunity we see people making constantly. If you are going to mention another brand, person of influence or organization that has a social profile - tag them in your post! Not only will you potentially get their attention, but in some cases you will pop-up in the feeds of their followers which instantly increases your reach. This also goes for geo-tagging, particularly on Facebook and Instagram. By adding a location tag you insert yourself into another content stream filled with potential consumers.
- The algorithm is king. Every platform has adopted an algorithmic feed that serves up content to its users based on a number of distinct variables. For an in-depth breakdown on this topic, we highly recommend giving this article a read. In a nutshell, there are certain elements in any given post your share that have a direct effect on how many or your followers will see it or how discoverable it will be.
Do It Live
With the addition of two communication formats, Facebook and Instagram have provided a very valuable lifeline to people looking to grab the attention of their followers. Both Stories and Live Video allow a more immediate way to talk to your audience which in and of itself is great, but perhaps more importantly they each literally alert your followers that you are broadcasting. In effect you have a direct line to your audience’s notification bar and inbox. Score!
It’s a Group Thing
Another oft neglected by highly relevant avenue of interaction is the world of Facebook Groups. Practically every state, town and in some cases neighborhood has their own user-created group specifically for their fellow constituents. This is a veritable gold mine for anyone looking to engage locals and ingrain themselves in a community. Digging even deeper, there are groups that get as granular as local foodies, gamers, moms, etc. Search for any and all groups that fit within your target and join them. Be active members in them, beyond just promoting yourself. This is easily one of the best ways to forge connections with communities and interest groups that can have an immense impact on your outreach efforts.
Snap to It
For certain demographic groups, particularly the youth market, there is a strong case to be made for having a Snapchat presence. What this allows you is a more one-on-one connection with your target audience. This can also be a great way to offer special promotions that reward users for following you as the lack of a public identity on the platform means you have more control over distribution and potential redemption. Plus, like Instagram or Facebook Stories, it allows for a more immediate, playful interaction with your audience. This is always a good thing.
The Missing Link
If your target is B2B or professionals, then LinkedIn is where you need to be. Not only is it an effective public sounding board, you also have the opportunity to leverage the platform’s robust search tools to pinpoint people and companies on a granular level and reach out to them directly. Inc has a great article, with input from the wizards at LinkedIn, that outlines how best to promote yourself on the platform.