Lots of enterprising entrepreneurs started out using social media to build a following. For example, Brandi Temple recently told audiences at Sage Summit how she started Lolly Wolly Doodle by marketing her brand of children’s clothes on Facebook. She now has over 1.1 million fans and a thriving business brand, like many others.
Take a look at these top tips on how you can make the most of social media to attract local customers:
Do your research
There are many different social networks, and it would be a full-time job to maintain a presence on them all. So try to focus on one or two at first.
Do your research to help you select which ones will work best for you:
- Search for your brand name, competitors and business keywords within the platform to see how many results come up. This can give you a good indication of the networks your customers use.
- Invest time to create your business profile. Facebook offers ‘business pages‘ as well as personal profiles. These give you a great opportunity to tell people about what your business offers. Remember to include relevant information such as opening hours and contact details, and make an effort to update content regularly (once a day is good).
- Seek out local business connections and networks. Many areas have social media groups e.g. small businesses in the North East of England use #NEbusiness and #NEfollowers on Twitter.
- Once you’ve chosen your social platforms, ‘listen’ first. Search for topics and key words, and join groups that relate to your business. Avoid the hard sell.
Set up your shop window and start posting
Half of all small high-street retailers still don’t have a website, according to a report from the Digital High Street Advisory Board which could be costing UK retail businesses £12 billion in lost sales.
However, having a social profile which can also appear in search engine results, will help your business get noticed by millions of users and with simple step-by-step processes, there’s no need for any coding or technical expertise. When customers can easily like and share your products or business with their online friends, they help do your marketing for you. Here are some tips to set up your social media shop window:
- Create new and useful content. Social media posts with images or video are more likely to attract interest.
- Be patient and consistent. It takes time to build up a presence on social media networks. Make sure you have time to keep on top of it.
- Don’t forget to encourage friends, family and regular customers to like, share and promote your business on social media too. For example, posting ‘please RT’ or ‘please share’ are succinct ways to tell your followers what you’d like them to do when they read your posts.
- Keep track of when you post updates and which get the most interest. You may find your customers are more likely to pay attention at certain times of day, or on particular days of the week. If you spot a pattern of success, repeat it.
Help local customers find you
Sage Business Expert Graham Soult who helps retailers improve their stores and online marketing says: “You can’t expect customers to visit – or even know about – your store if, as far as search engines are concerned, it doesn’t exist. You don’t necessarily have to sell online, but a basic website – with opening times, contact details, and a flavour of who you are and what you offer – will ensure you don’t slip below the radar.”
With 1 in 3 searches on Google including a location term, people are looking for businesses selling goods or services near to them. So include your address and relevant local keywords on your website and social media profile.
Case study – A real life small business using social media
Newcastle-based deli and real-ale retailers ‘mmm…glug…‘ built up an impressive following on Twitter and added thousands of pounds to their revenue, by encouraging customers to visit their busy market-stalls.
Recognised as one of the most influential of Tyneside’s twitterati, they regularly share snippets of news and pictures of products on social networks including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.