Smart use of social media networks like Facebook and Twitter enhances your local search strategy in three important ways:
- It captures leads. Social media takes your message to places where thousands of prospective customers are already congregating. Take Facebook, for example. Millions of members have volunteered tons of psychographic data to Facebook, as well as left a digital track showing what pages, ads and other links they’ve clicked on in the past. This means that Facebook can target users not just by basic demographic data (although that information is useful), but by their interests. So if you have a photography business, for example, wouldn’t it be great to get your message in front of all the Facebook users who are amateur photographers?
- It promotes your website. Even though you can reach lots of prospects via social media, you still want people to visit your website, where you can more fully describe what your business does and what it offers to customers. Beyond that, you own your website real estate and control how it operates and what goes on it. A social platform can change the rules at any time, so it’s smart to use social media to entice visitors to your website. You do this by creating special offers, contests and other engaging content on your site and promoting it to prospects through social media. Quartz news service makes good use of Twitter to encourage site traffic.
- It’s measurable. Most of the major social platforms have free metrics that track the reach and popularity of your posts. You can also use a third-party application like Buffer, which is free and allows you to assess several social media accounts and compare their effectiveness. This helps you manage the time and money you put into the various social sites so that you get the most for your investment.
Learn By Example
I’ve randomly chosen three Facebook pages as examples of businesses that are already using social media well. (To be clear, I have no connection with any of these businesses.) All of these examples are from Facebook, as opposed to other networks, because the format of pages provides enough information for me to make reasonable judgments about the business.
- Earth Art International This is an independent business in Moscow, Idaho, that sells works by an artist named Sue Coccia. The chief purpose of the page appears to be to showcase products. Note that the artist takes time to communicate with many of the 5,000+ people who ‘like’ her page. Consumers who feel that they have a personal relationship with the artist are far more likely to purchase artwork.
- Club W Winery and Vineyard This business is based in California, but sells directly to customers throughout the world. I believe that the page strives to capitalize on the current interest in wine as a hobby by educating people about the various wines and their unique characteristics. Note that they don’t just list a lot of boring facts about wine, but create clever promotions that link wine with other interests. The Yoga and Wine post is a good example.
- Local iQ is a bi-weekly print magazine in Albuquerque, NM. It promotes readership and its website by focusing on local events. As with the winery, Local iQ doesn’t simply list a lot of events and detail, but uses photographs and engaging stories about the events, which draw visitors further into their page posts and, eventually perhaps, to the printed paper and its website.
Lest you think that developing a presence on social media for your business is too much trouble or a waste of time, consider these statistics from original research by Gartner Media:
- Social commerce sales are expected to bring in $30 billion each year by 2015, with half of web sales to occur through social media.
- Facebook drives 26% of referral traffic to business websites and those numbers are only expected to increase.
- Nearly 10 million registered small businesses use Facebook. That’s 1 out of 3.