Use Social Media to Support Your Local Business

social media support your local business
Let Social Media bring more customers to your local business

Local businesses often feel like social media just isn’t for them.  But blogging is still a good way to make money, even if you never want to make money from your blog.  Small local businesses can see a huge increase in sales through blogging and other social media tactics driving customers to your physical store.

Let’s say you have a retail store selling children’s shoes.

How will customers find you online?

Either they’ll search for children’s shoes or they’ll listen to what their friends are saying on Facebook and search for your store.  Of course, you can do traditional advertising, too.

Searching online requires your store show up on the first page in Google (or some other search engine) because consumers rarely look beyond the first page for options and being on top of the results page has a tremendous impact on sales in your store.  Strategies to get you there are called SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  Generating a buzz about your store on Facebook, or other social network, requires consumers willing to talk about your brand or share your messages with their networks.  We call this SMO (Social Media Optimization).

Lately, these two aspects of getting your store noticed have blended because Google changed its search algorithm so it’s using social media buzz as part of what determines where your business shows up in an organic search (ie. When you search for children’s shoes, rather than XYZ shoe store).

How you can make money blogging using SEO principles

No one knows exactly what’s in Google’s algorithm but SEO experts play around with different tactics (actually experimenting and carefully monitoring results) to find out some things that have a big impact on where you show up on the results page.   Here are just a few things we know help you show up higher in search:

  • Fresh content on your website
  • Having more people visit your website
  • Keywords match search terms
  • Engaging consumers in social media

How you can make money blogging using SMO principles

Here are some things you can do in social media that encourage consumers to create buzz about your store:

  • Share interesting facts about your products
  • Talk about consumers
  • Have consumers help create new products or services

How a blog helps you make money

While some of the things that get you first in search results can be done without a blog, some can’t and ALL of them can be done with a blog.  Here are some examples of things you can do with a blog to make money in your retail store:

  • Blog about material in your shoes, where your shoes come from, or fun facts about shoes such as how they impact development or foot health.  This increases the keyword density on your site and likely brings traffic from folks who don’t need shoes right now, but will remember you when they do.
  • Take pictures of customers who come in for shoes or collect pictures of them wearing your shoes in interesting places and post them to your blog.  You can even have contests to encourage more submissions.  Maybe they have to hold a picture of your store or a sign about it to enter the contest.  This encourages consumers to share the pictures with their friends meaning they’re also spreading the word about your store.
  • Ask customers to suggest new products or services and get their friends to vote for their ideas.  Again, you’re spread the word about your store through your blog.
  • Create a cause for your local business.  Maybe you’ll donate shoes like Toms or talk about sustainable practices in your store or some other cause marketing efforts.  For instance, McDonald’s supports the Ronald McDonald house that has nothing to do with their business, but is appealing to their target market — families with kids.
  • Of course, even if you decide not to blog on your blog, you can turn it into an ecommerce site with less expense and effort than if you had created a static website.  All you need is a plugin and there are several available at low cost or free.  It will also be more dynamic – meaning you can change products or layouts much more easily than in a static website.

Don’t forget other social media platforms

While your blog is your home base online, other social media tactics help bring traffic to your site.  Here are just a few options local businesses should use to bring more traffic (and money) into their business:

  • Google Places – claim your physical location and link it to your Google+ page and your website.  Google returns websites located nearby since searchers often want local businesses.
  • Yelp and other rating sites are great to ensure folks find your local business.  Encourage patrons to rate your products and services and share their ratings with their Facebook and Twitter networks.
  • Facebook and Twitter are, of course, nearly mandatory given the huge number of users of these social media platforms.
  • Develop relationships with other local businesses and link your sites together.  For instance, other retailers in your mall or shopping center might create an online shopping venue supporting all the local businesses.  At a minimum, these local businesses should cross-link their digital properties.

Hausman and Associates

Hausman and Associates publishes Hausman Marketing Letter and the monthly email newsletter of the same name.  We also provide cost-effective marketing and social media through our virtual agency concept.  We welcome new clients and would happily provide a proposal to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE.


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Social Media Marketing Done Right !

Last week I was traveling to meet clients and visit schools with my daughter.  I like to take these opportunities to observe local businesses.  I often see things done wrong, which is very frustrating — I sometimes feel like all the work I do training students both at the university and professionally through speaking and my blog is wasted.  In Atlanta, I found a business that seemed to have it all together.

The business is YogurtBerry in Buckhead in Atlanta.  They did a great job with both in-store marketing factors (including product and retail atmospherics) and communication marketing factors (such as social media and advertising). We had a very enjoyable evening and here’s what they were doing right:

  1. The product.  The yogurt was good, with a large variety of toppings and was very reasonably priced (much like other premium ice cream and yogurt shops).
  2. Social media.  Increasingly, firms want you to become fans on Facebook.  In fact, earlier in the trip we saw signs posted in prominent locations at a Chick-fil-a asking patrons to become fans.  But, why?  At YogurtBerry the owner had signs all over the store asking folks to fan him, check-in on Foursquare, and follow him on Twitter.  He didn’t stop there.  Every customer was personally asked to become a fan or connect using other social media.  In exchange, he handed them a coupon to use during their next visit to the store.  Not everyone will become a fan, but a sense of obligation will encourage many of them to become fans.  Not only that, but he’ll likely get repeat business when customers come back to use their coupons.
  3. Customer relationship management. The owner took time when things were a little slow to get to know his customers.  He tried to guess where we were from, what we were doing in the area, and asked why we choose his shop.  He went into the courtyard outside his shop and talked to folks hanging out there.  He didn’t push them to come in, but invited them as one might a guest into one’s home.
  4. Store atmospherics.  The store was small, but clean and inviting.  He had inoffensive music playing, but it wasn’t Musak.  He also has a small TV. Most important, he had photos in every place possible.  Photos featured local celebrities visiting his shop — likely the outcome of other marketing efforts to get them there in the first place.  Most of the photos just showed local folks enjoying their YogurtBerry.  These photos entice customers to stay longer, as they want to see how many of their friends or local celebrities they recognize from the photos.

Outcome Metrics

Not only was I a happy customer (and a fulfilled marketing who felt like not everyone ignored what I had to say), but I am not alone.  Here are some of the results he achieves:

  • After the franchise owner, he owns the next 4 sites that come up in organic search
  • One of the links returned from organic search is a Yelp review of his store
  • Other stores, include one in Midtown Manhattan, don’t appear until near the bottom of the first page.

Now, I don’t know how this translates into profits, but my guess is he’s doing pretty well for a local business, especially given he has a truly horrible location.

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