3 Social Media Tips for Local Businesses

local business social media, local business social-media marketingBy Samuel Scott

If you follow marketing news, you have probably heard of national brands launching large social media campaigns like Kohl’s and Target on Facebook and Radio Shack and Nestle on Twitter. Still, it is very easy to use social media for business even if you just have a local store.

In Boston, where I lived for nine years, one of the most-famous pizzerias is Santarpio’s in the neighborhood of East Boston. If you live in Eastie – as Bostonians call it – and order delivery from somewhere else rather than take-away from Santarpio’s (pictured), your neighbors will think that you are crazy or have bad taste in pizza.

The restaurant has a big-enough brand and following that the owners seem not to be bothering with a social-media strategy. If you go to Santarpio’s website, you will see that they do not have links to their Facebook page and Twitter account. Moreover, there are no posts on the Facebook Wall, and there have been only five tweets and nine followers since August.

Still, social media could surely help them – along with many other local businesses in New England or elsewhere. I recently read a blog post by Hubspot (also in Boston) on local social-media marketing, and the company’s points are sound. I’ll address some of their ideas with my own in the context of how Santarpio’s could use Facebook and Twitter. Whatever your own business happens to be, you can adjust accordingly.

1. Use your Facebook page to get found in Google. As my colleague Daniel Goldstein and I wrote in posts here and here, social-media accounts and posts are increasingly appearing in Google search-results. Santarpio’s could add a search term like “Boston Pizza” to its Facebook page name (“Santarpio’s Boston Pizza”) and customize its Facebook page URL to something like www.facebook.com/santarpiosbostonpizza. The informational tabs could also contain keywords. In addition, regular Wall activity including the occasional use of keywords and links would help. All of these actions help to increase the page’s chance to appear in Google search.

2. Use Twitter search to find local people interested in your product or service. Santarpio’s could create a Twitter list showing all tweets that mention the word “pizza,” “ordering pizza,” “getting takeout,” or something similar. Whenever someone local uses the phrase, Santarpio’s could reply and make a marketing pitch (perhaps something like “$2 off a large pizza just for you, today!”) It would also be important to use one of the search features and available tools to limit the search results to a certain radius around the city.

3. Use mobile and social-media check-ins. This is from Hubspot:

Many local businesses leverage mobile check-ins via networks like Foursquare to encourage foot traffic. But you can also use it to identify potential affiliate opportunities. Where else are your customers checking in? If you know where they spend their time, you also know where you should be making your brand visible with things like guest blogging, paid advertising, referrals, and co-marketing opportunities.

Santarpio’s could also posts signs or ask their servers to encourage people to “check-in” on social-media accounts and mobile phones when they sit at a table. If a certain number of people do so, they could be given a free appetizer or something similar. This way, their friends will see their locations – and might just develop a hankering for a famous slice of cheese and pepperoni themselves.

If Santarpio’s, for example, would engage a lot of people in Boston through social media, then more people would think to go there once they see a lot more people posting on Facebook and Twitter about the famous restaurant. It’s all about brand awareness. Since I moved away from Massachusetts, the pizzeria opened a second location in the northern suburb of Peabody. An effective use of social media would make them even more of a success and possibly lead to even more locations (assuming that Santarpio’s still has popular pizza and satisfied customers!).

And the same is likely true for whatever your local business happens to offer.

Samuel Scott is Director of Digital Marketing and Communications and SEO Team Leader for The Cline Group. You see more of his thoughts on TwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Slideshare, and Quora. His personal website is here.

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