How do you decide where to spend your time marketing your local business?
So many social networks and marketing options can be overwhelming. How can you ensure you’re focusing on tactics yielding the most return on investment (ROI) for your local business?
Rely on the Social Media for Local Business infographic. It reveals the eight most powerful social marketing platforms for local businesses; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit your brand.
Browse the explanations of each tactic, why it’s important, and what it can do for you. Remember to share this infographic with your own network, using the social buttons at the top & bottom of this post.
1. Get a local business page
Getting found on search engines is crucial for any local business, and the #1 step you can take to appear on page one of Google search results for your area is to get a Google+ local business page. It six weeks for Google to verify your address, but once they do, you get a free listing worth thousands in advertising.
2. Add photos of your business’ exterior
Give people a snapshot of what your brick & mortar location looks like. While a professional image would be great, one you take yourself will do nicely.
3. Add photos of your business’ interior
Do you invest a lot of time making your store an inviting place to stop in and browse? Show it off with photos of the interior, including your products, inventory, and what makes your business unique.
4. Offer the ability to add reviews
People trust reviews from real consumers and businesses, so allow the public to review your brand. Don’t worry about negative reviews: studies show they actually increase overall review credibility. Just ensure they don’t outweigh the positive ones.
5. Post hours of operation
Add your location’s hours and Google will let people know if you’re open at the EXACT moment they’re searching. Google is relieving your staff workload by avoiding that phone call of “are you open today?”
6. Includes a map and directions
Google+ provides a map to your location, making it easy for visitors to get directions from Google Maps both on desktop and mobile. Again, a phone call saved asking “how do I get to your office?”
7. Add local area code and telephone number
Adding your local telephone number makes it easy for customers to get in touch with you and call your store by pressing just one “Call” button. Even better? Adding your local area code also boosts your local search engine rankings.
8. Use local hashtags
People do a lot of searching on Google+, and using hashtags relevant to your area will help you get found more often. A local insurance office would do well to use the hashtags such as #insurance, #atlanta, and #allstate (substitute your brand name here).
9. Record a brief intro video
YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, so you’ve got to show up there with a video. Record a brief video introducing your business, what you do, and your location. Think of it as your own YouTube commercial.
10. Video title should include your city, business type, name of business
It may sound dull and uninspired, but including your city, type of business, and your business name is the best way to get found on YouTube. So the title: Layton Utah Ford Dealership | Ed Kenley Ford ensures that people know your video is the one they’re looking for.
11. Website hyperlink is first item in description
What’s the next thing you want viewers to do after watching the video? Visit your website? Then put the website hyperlink as the first element in the video description. That ensures viewers will see it even if they don’t click on See More to view the full description. Want viewers to call you? Then use your telephone number as the first item in the description.
12. Use city and zip code as tags
Tags are categories you can use to further describe your video, and they help YouTube determine which are the most relevant videos to your search. By using your city name and local zip code as tags, you’re telling YouTube to serve up your video as local results when people are searching for videos in your area.
13. Keep video short, less than three minutes
Make your video easy on you to record AND easy on viewers to watch by keeping it short, under three minutes. Remember, television commercials are 30 seconds: watch them closely to see what they include and emulate the ones you like.
14. Give viewers a virtual tour
You’ve likely invested heavily in your office or store’s interior, so show it off to viewers. Give them an idea of what it will look and feel like when they visit your location. Be sure to point out what differentiates your brand from others in the area.
15. Invite viewers to visit
Lastly, extend an invitation to viewers to visit your location, and offer something special to them when they do. Give away a freebie when people tell you they saw your video on YouTube.
16. Mine Analytics for a gold mine of viewer data
YouTube offers excellent analytics about how many people watched your videos, for how long, and how they found them. If people are watching only the first 10 seconds, take another look at your video. What’s your most popular video? Your least?
17. Select local business as your business page category
Facebook offers local businesses valuable features on their pages not available to others, including a map, your hours, and reviews. All these items make it simple for people to find out about your brand directly within Facebook.
18. Local business pages offer a map
When you add your physical address to your local business page, Facebook displays a map to your location. This is particularly helpful to mobile users, who can click on the map and get directions from their current location.
19. Local business pages offer reviews
Reviews from real consumers are one of the best ways to boost your brand’s credibility. Yes, you risk getting a negative review or two, but studies show those bad apples actually increase the authenticity of all the reviews. No need for people to go to Yelp — you’re letting your best customers say how much they love you and why!
20. Are you open today?
Facebook actually saves your staff from endless calls about “are you open today” and “how late are you open” with real-time status: Open 11:00 – 3:00 or Closed Today. Helpful for both your team and consumers.
21. Use local hashtags in posts
Hashtags are a great way to get found in Facebook GraphSearch, and local hashtags give you an intimate connection with your community. The more you use hashtags, the greater the opportunity for people to find your business on Facebook. G. Michael Salon, the #1 hair salon in Indianapolis, uses up to 13 hashtags on a single post.
22. Motivate fans to tag your business
Tagging allows a fan to mention your business in a post or a photo, resulting in it appearing on your NewsFeed. Can you say “free public relations?” Give fans a reason to tag your business: motivate them with a freebie or an opportunity for an experience no one else gets.
23. Check-ins from fans appear in their NewsFeeds
When your fans visit your location and check-in, their status appears in their NewsFeed along with a link to your business page. Another fantastic opportunity for free publicity. Capitalize on your local status and encourage fan check-ins with photo opportunities, cool displays, or other unique experiences.
24. Local businesses appear in GraphSearch first
If I’m looking for an insurance agency in my city, Facebook GraphSearch serves up those I’m fans with first, then local matches. Grow a targeted, local fan base and you’ll see improved search results. Also check your Insights to see where new fans are coming from.
25. Gives local business a huge SEO boost
Few business owners understand the impact Slideshare can have on your search engine rankings. After all, it’s where you share PowerPoints, right? Yes, but Slideshare transcribes the text of your slides, search engines (Google, Bing, & Yahoo) read that text, and if they like what they see, your search engine rankings improve.
26. Presentation title should include your city, business type, name of business
Similar to #10 for YouTube, including your city, type of business, and your business name is the best way to get found on Slideshare and in Google search. So the title: Layton Utah Ford Dealership | Ed Kenley Ford ensures that people know your business is the one they’re looking for.
27. Use SEO keywords in title text
Your SEO keywords are those search terms people use in Google to find what they’re looking for. Someone from Atlanta searching would likely search for “Georgia Ford Dealerships” if they want that cool new Shelby Mustang. If those keywords are in your presentation title, your business has a much greater chance of appearing before searchers on Google and in Slideshare.
28. Slideshare transcribes slide text for SEO
A perk of uploading a presentation to Slideshare is that it transcribes the slide text for you. Search engines LOVE that. Aim for a balance of text on your slide that is enough to help you rank in search, but not so much you crowd the slide.
29. Add a location slide with a photo
Help people visualize where your business is located by dedicated one slide to how to find you. Give your address, nearby landmarks, and a nice photo of your building.
30. Differentiate your business
What’s unique about your business? Hair salons are plentiful in most cities, but not all have Redken-trained colorists and carry Aveda products. A small one-person barber shop is an entirely different experience than a full-service barber who offers hot shaves, mustache trims, and a large collection of American Crew styling products. You know what your customers want: tell them you offer it in your presentation.
31. Use a variety of images
Please don’t resort to the snooze-fest that is the text-only slide, or Death-by-PowerPoint. Make your slide presentation visually engaging by using a variety of relevant images, great slide design, and easily read fonts.
32. Few local businesses use Slideshare
If you’re a local business reading this blog post, you’re in the minority. Most small brands don’t use Slideshare, so simply uploading a presentation there puts you in the place of most potential. Try it – and let me know how it works for you.
33. Yelp is important for local restaurants
If you own a restaurant, people are already reviewing it on Yelp. It’s become the go-to source for finding a great place to eat in any town. Especially critical if you’re located in a tourist town. A Yelp listing offer your address, telephone, hours, a map, photos of dishes you offer, and reviews.
34. Kudzu is great for local service businesses
Kudzu offers reviews for automotive, legal, health, financial and residential construction service businesses in major cities in the U.S. However, reviews are a small part of a large, detailed description and list of services you can display on Kudzu for free. Kudzu should be high on your list if you’re in a service-based business.
35. TripAdvisor is a must for travel businesses
TripAdvisor is the first place travelers look when they’re planning a visit to a major city around the world. I personally booked a bicycle tour in Paris from reviews on TripAdvisor, and during the tour, the business owner told me TripAdvisor is a major source of new business for them. They key to credible reviews on TripAdvisor: photos.
36. Review sites can be an ongoing source of new customers
While many local business owners fear negative or fake reviews on these sites, it makes sense to embrace these websites and make full use of the wealth of free resources they offer you. Instead of waiting for your clients to come to your website, go to where they are: the review sites. From there you can link to your website, offer inviting photos, and make your listing so inviting they can’t wait to visit.
37. Ask clients to use photos when they review your business
Much has been published about fake reviews (and people even sued over them); the best way to add credibility to any review is to add a relevant photo to it. A photo of a clean body shop in an auto dealership can say far more than the review content, plus it shows the reviewer was really at your location. Ask your best clients for reviews and encourage them to snap a photo with their smartphone.
38. Pay attention to review content
Make it a habit to read the reviews of your business and those of your competition. While it’s impossible to please everyone, you’re likely to see a trend in what people rave about and what needs improvement. When reviewers complain about your competitors, identify how you can capitalize on their weaknesses or suggest a collaboration: you offer what they can’t, and vice-versa. I know of a local quilt shop owner who formed a friendship with the local Wal-Mart manager, and they agreed to refer customers to each other when shoppers couldn’t find what they needed.
39. Increases SEO results for your website
Review sites get massive traffic everyday, so a link on Yelp, Kudzu, TripAdvisor or other credible review site will help your website rank higher in search engines. Don’t stop with just one review site: if your industry has multiple review sites consumers use, create listings on each.
40. Add menus, photos, and details to your listings
Give visitors a multi-sensory experience when they look at your review site listing: can they see your restaurant’s inviting decor? Can they taste your tiramisu? Smell the Columbian coffee? Give viewers as much detail as possible in the form of photos, descriptions of products/services, directions, and other relevant information.
41. Follow local Instagrammers
Who are the local Instagram influencers in your area? Search for your local hashtag, ask at your next chamber of commerce meeting, and start following those colleagues. Also identify who the influential Instagram consumers are in your area and follow them as well.
42. Use a variety of images
Mix up the image types you share: staff photos, new products, inspirational quotes, your team at local charity events, before & after transformation photos, in-process photos and more. Keep your image feed interesting: too much of the same type of image gets repetitive.
43. Offer behind-the-scenes pictures
Some of the most fascinating images come from places consumers can never go: your kitchen, your body shop, stockroom, etc. Example? A local auto body shop shares fascinating before & after images of wrecked vehicles and the step-by-step process. I’d take my car there!
44. Before & after transformation images are popular
Want to show off the impact your brand can have? Share before & after images of your clients! Great for hair salons, med spas, auto body shops, remodeling contractors, insurance agencies (before/after a home fire or other disaster) or any brand that has a visual impact.
45. Share product photos with advice on how to use them
One of my favorite consignment stores posts photos of the new inventory they get weekly. I’d love to get a few of their tips on how to style or use the pieces they get. Their vision of how to use their products is priceless beyond the piece itself.
An insurance company could share tips on what to do after hail damage to a car. Getting ideas for your brand now?
46. Add location to images
Sharing those fascinating images is the first step to gaining followers. Adding your location to those images makes it easy for those followers to find you when they’re ready to visit.
47. Use local hashtags
Hashtags are crucial to getting found on Instagram, so what are the ones for your area? Indianapolis uses #indy, atlanta is known as #atl. How about your town?
48. Use city, business type, business name, zip code and area code
If this image is the first time a follower has seen your brand, don’t make them guess at your details. Use hashtags to identify what you do: #atl, #barber, #barkerjackson, #30305, and #770 tells locals everything they need to know about your business at a glance.
49. Use place pins to offer a map to your location
Pinterest now offers “place pins,” which allow you to enter your address and it displays a map of your location. Great for both desktop and mobile users, no one has to guess where you are.
50. Add city and zip code in your board/pin titles and descriptions
Pinterest offers strong SEO results both internally and in Google, so using your city and zip code will help people find their local results. Do you need them in both the pin and board descriptions? Yes. Why? Boards show up more often in Google, while inside Pinterest you’ll easily find both boards and pins.
51. Pinterest provides your brand with an easy SEO boost
Not an internet geek? Awesome! You don’t have to be, nor do you have to pay an SEO consultant $5,000 to “optimize” your site. Just add relevant local details to your boards and pins, and it will definitely help people to find you – both inside Pinterest and in Google search.
52. Create local theme boards
The sky is the limit here: create “themed” boards around an experience: Date Night board could include dinner at your restaurant with live music. Spa Day board could be your hair salon “makeover” package with cut, color, facial and mani/pedi. Service-based businesses can do this too: Insurance agencies can do boards around the dream cars, homes, and vehicles they insure. Financial services firms can showcase Saving for College or Retirement boards.
53. Follow local pinners
Pinterest allows you to easily integrate your Facebook friends into your account, so you can connect with them. This is a great way to find local pinners. Also search by hashtag to find pinners in your area.
54. Offer contests to encourage visibility
While Pinterest may not be the first social network to come to mind for contests, brands like Amazon Fashion, LandsEnd, and Lily Pulitzer rock their contests, generating huge follower interest. How? Ask pinners to create boards with their brand favorites, and use the contest hashtag in the board description.
55. Create a staff board
You’ve invested in a top-notch staff, so let pinners get to know them. Feature a staff board with a pin for each staff member, and a short bio. Want more? Include links to each staff members product recommendations and advice, as described in #56.
56. Offer staff “picks” and advice
Let each staff member curate their own boards with their favorite products, advice, local hangouts and styles. It’s a great way to let local pinners get to know the faces behind your brand, what their strengths are, and who they identify with.
57. A mobile website is CRUCIAL for local businesses
People no longer rely on the Yellow Pages, and they use Siri and Android apps to find the closest business to them. Yesterday I was car shopping and asked Siri “where’s the closest BMW auto dealership?” I immediately looked at the most relevant results (my son was driving!). If your website is responsive or has a mobile version, you’ll get far better click-through rates and more people coming into your location.
58. Make your website responsive
A responsive website is one that automatically detects what device visitors are coming from and optimizes its display for the best viewing experience. Talk to your web developer about the simplest and most elegant way accomplish this: it’s an investment, but one that you need to do sooner than later.
59. WordPress plugins provide a simple responsive solution
If you have a WordPress website, several plugins turn your website into a mobile version when visitors come from a smartphone or tablet. These plugins are a smart solution for testing the response you get when you offer an optimized viewing experience for mobile users. WP Touch and WP Mobile Detector are both highly rated and simple to install.
60. Design emails for mobile reading
Most of us check our email on our mobile phones at least part of the time, so make your email newsletters mobile-friendly. Use a mobile-friendly theme or just simple text in one column. It’s not fancy, but it’s easily read and looks more like the emails readers get from friends and family (they don’t feel like they’re being sold to).
61. Look at your website and emails on a tablet and smartphone
Great! You’ve got a mobile version of your website and your email newsletter! Have you looked at them yourself — as a consumer? Sure, you’re developer says they look great, but how readable are they to you? Ask staff members and friends to view them from their devices and different browsers to see how they look across the board.
62. Use a large font size for easier mobile view
One simple tweak you can make to both your website and your email newsletters is to use a larger font size. That automatically reduces eye strain, especially on a tiny smartphone screen.
63. One column layout is easier to read
Studies prove that a one column layout is both easier to scan and read, and gets higher click-through rates. Consider updating your website and your email newsletters to a simple one column layout. At least test a simplified version of each and see how the response rates change.
64. 44% of website traffic is mobile (and growing)
What adult (or teen) do you see without a smartphone in their hands? Mobile visitors are increasingly becoming a majority of traffic to your website, and local businesses likely get far more than 44% from it. Check your Google Analytics (or ask your developer to) and see how many of your brand’s website traffic comes from mobile.
Where is Your Business Online? Can Your Customers Find It?
Local businesses are increasingly transitioning print, radio, and television advertising budgets to online marketing. Have you?
Identify your staff member who loves social and can represent your brand well, and give them the opportunity to build or improve your online marketing. Give them this infographic as a “to do list” of tactics, and experiment with a few to see which ones generate the most traffic — both online and in your brick and mortar location.