We’ve asked whether local businesses still need websites and blogs, but what of social media? Here contributor Shane Barker explains how Facebook and friends still bring awareness, leads, and conversions to local businesses.
Apart from bringing people closer, social media is proving to be a crucial tool for business growth. Numerous businesses, especially local establishments, are relying on social media to increase revenue and customer engagement.
30% of millennials engage with brands on social media at least once a month and 60% of baby boomers look for promotions on it. It’s easy to see why businesses, regardless of their size, are shifting their marketing focus to social media. In fact, roughly 83% of B2B marketers have claimed they use social media.
What’s alarming is that a huge 24% of small businesses still don’t use social media at all. Sure, there’s a lot of noise out there for you to cut through, but as a small business, the best way for you to do that is to use social media. I say this for a few reasons, which I’ve explained in detail below:
1. In the Spotlight
Small businesses are often ingrained in the communities they are part of. This allows them to connect on a deeper level with the individuals from their relatively small circles.You can take your business to the next level by connecting with customers online using social media.
It provides you a platform to talk about yourself and your products or services. Engage your customers by encouraging them to post photos and reviews about you. You can even up your customer experience game by using your Facebook page to source valuable feedback from your customers. Almost 40% of people tend to express their feelings about a brand on social media.
You can actively communicate with your audience via comments, whether it’s to thank them for a good review or help them out with any concerns. Customers generally respect and appreciate businesses that promptly respond to any questions or concerns they may have.
Unlike big companies who use scripted responses, you can engage customers in honest conversations. Consumers crave this kind of personalized attention and this is one way local businesses have a big advantage over large brands on social media.
2. Influencer Marketing
Social media is one of the most powerful tools that local business owners can leverage to improve their brand awareness. It gives you a direct more personal outlet to share your brand’s voice with existing and potential customers alike.
Consumers give a lot of importance to product and brand information available when making a purchase decision. You can leverage the power of social media influencers to generate this kind of content for your audience. The content could take the form of reviews or recommendations. In fact, almost a quarter of shoppers are influenced by such content on social media.
Take popular YouTuber, Austin Evans, for instance. He showcases the best technology for his nearly 2 million subscribers. He frequently showcases, tests, and reviews old and new tech products. Austin provides his viewers with all of the key insights they need before deciding on a purchase.
Image via YouTube
Try to find and connect with influencers who are already using your products or services and loving them. This will ensure that the generated content is coming from an authentic and heartfelt place. It’s imperative then that you find influencers who align with your brand’s image and who are the right fit for your campaign.
You can leverage influencer marketing tools like Grin in this regard to help you find the right people for the job. Not only does it filter them on the basis of metrics like reach and engagement, but it can also help you manage your whole influencer marketing campaign.
Image via Grin
3. Easy on the Budget
In contrast to traditional methods like print media and commercials, social ads aren’t just dependable, but they’re inexpensive, too. Print or digital ads and mailers may be important for your local business as well, but you can invest only so much in that.
53% of people who follow a brand on social media are likely to become loyal patrons. Considering that, you’re better off leveraging social media marketing to stretch your budget. Being cost-effective will help you achieve greater returns on your investment. It will also allow you to use the remainder of your budget on other pertinent aspects of your business.
Without all of the bells and whistles, social media is essentially a free advertising tool. One you can use to spread the word on special offers and discounts to your audience. Expect them to further share these with their friends and family, increasing your reach and engagement.
For example, Chicago Lashes used Facebook’s Custom Audience feature to reach out to women between the ages of 24-55. They focused on sending promos to women within 20 miles of the store, and ones interested in beauty, makeup, and Oprah Winfrey. It resulted in 50% more sales and twice as many appointments in a day.
Image via Facebook
If you choose to use paid advertising on social media, like Chicago Lashes did, you’re in a great position to do so. The targeted opportunities on Facebook, for instance, allows niche businesses to experiment with their strategies. Depending on your budget, you can try bold and creative strategies to increase your brand awareness.
An approach like this requires some investment in the form of money and time. But unlike blockbuster brands, you can afford to take the risk. The beauty of this is that if you hit the nail on the head, you’ll see a significant increase in your conversion rates, and if you don’t, it’s not going to break the bank to go back to the drawing board. Ultimately, it will prove a sound investment.
4. Level up in Search Rankings
Marketers often forget about the importance of SEO in conversations on social media. Search engines like Google and Bing give consideration to a company’s social media presence when determining search rankings. It’s no longer sufficient to optimize only your site and blog.
It’s critical that you update your listings on online directories and review sites. A little over 75% of people who search for nearby businesses, visit them that very day. 3 out of 10 of those searches result in actual purchases.
Your presence on social media and in local listings are still important in determining your search engine rankings. After all, social media mentions count toward the ‘prominence’ element of the tri-modal algorithm. That’s why it is of the utmost importance for your local business to maintain an active presence on both. By increasing your chances of turning up in the “Golden Triangle” you’ll improve your CTRs as well as store traffic.
In this bid to improve your SEO, you can leverage tools to help you keep a track of your performance. You can use BrightLocal’s Local Search Rank Checker, for example, to check your search engine rankings.
5. Quality Leads
Social media helps captivate the maximum number of consumers with a minimal cost. You’re giving users a reason to click-through to your site by sharing your content on social media platforms. More quality content results in more inbound traffic, which results in more prospects for you to convert.
You can improve the quality of your leads by creating customized content for the specific demographic groups you’re targeting. This way, you can generate quality leads in the circles that might be genuinely interested in what you’re offering. Work with influencers from specific niches to generate that kind of content.
But getting quality leads are only a part of the equation. Converting them into customers is the other. Social proof is the way to do that. If a user comments on your page, praising you or your product—use it. Nearly 50% of Americans find content like this to be helpful when making a purchase. Just as many think that such reviews are truthful and unbiased.
New York-based bakery, Baked NYC, expanded their customer base using Facebook. They attracted baking aficionados from across the country to sign up for their e-newsletter by crafting short videos of their scrumptious pies. They used the Leads Ad function to source information about their ideal audience to produce content accordingly.
Image via Facebook
There’s no denying the benefits that social media offers brands, and even more so for small businesses. With the right strategies in place, social media marketing can drive sales and conversions in a cost-effective fashion.
Jumping on this train is, quite frankly, no longer a matter of choice if you want to see your business thrive. It’s more of a necessity at this point if you want to attract the kind of attention and growth your business deserves.
If you have any insights on this topic, feel free to reach out and engage us via the comment section.
Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.