Local is where many of us small businesses market and sell. We attend business to business (B2B) networking events, we join formal and informal networking groups all with the goal to increase sales.
Social media, we all have heard about this marketing channel, is here to stay. For some small business owners they have embraced this marketing approach while others have only put their big toes into it and others ignore it possibly thinking it will go away.
So the question now for we crazy busy small business owners is to be or not to be in local social media. The answer has been given to us by the device most of us have attached to our hips or in our purses – the smart phone.
Mobile devices and phones are changing the marketing landscape. These smart devices are allowing people to search from wherever they are and are becoming the technology tool of choice exceeding laptops and desktops.
In March of 2012 according to Nielsen study, smart phones became the majority at 50.4% and 47% of American Smartphone owners used shopping apps in June 2012. Ebay and Amazon topped the shopping apps with 13 and 12 million respectively.
Social media has become the primary marketing channel or river full of all these smart devices sailing down the river and taking side trips to other social media sites as well as to people you would never be connected to. Did you know more and more people are buying on the recommendations of others within their social media communities according to ongoing research. Angie’s List is one such example.
Additionally social media has created a fear of missing out of something. According to 62% of the adults surveyed by Harris Interactive and MyLife, more than half of Gen Y (born in the late 70’s until 2000) would prefer any of the following rather than be forced to delete their social media accounts (think be without their smart phones):
- Wait in line at the DMV
- Read War & Peace
- Do their taxes
- Give up an hour of sleep each night for a year
- Get a root canal
- Spend a night in jail
People take their smart phones or devices from room to room, from place to place. Even here my sense is some of you will check your smart phone while reading this blog posting.
As we further peel away this research we learn 68% of online adults usedLinkedIn for content. This is followed by You Tube & Twitter next for content while Pinterest and Facebook use content and share content.
Other research has shown when it is the best time to Tweet, post onFacebook or on YouTube to ensure engagement such as ReTweets, Likes or Shares not to mention comments
- Twitter – 4-7 am cst
- Facebook – 9-11am cst
- YouTube – Mondays
Mobile marketing is all about local and this is why it is important to consider local social media within your marketing efforts.
Here in northwest Indiana, there is one quick way to start swimming in that local social media steam by using the hashtag (#) of #nwindiana – By placing this hashtag on your Twitter posts, you can quickly connect to other local small business owners, professionals and plain old citizens. Of course the challenge is not just to post using this tag, but to engage with others.
Remember this word one – engage as we will return to it shortly.
Facebook allows you to hot link with your connections or the pages you like through the use of the ampersand sign (@) in front of people names or places of business.
Your blog is another current in the local social media marketing stream.
Did you know that there are 55.000,000 Word Press Blogs alone?
Blogs allow you to connect to your local market as well as the global one.
John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing in his blog this week shared several reasons why having a blog is important and I believe I have included his reasons in several of my past blogs, business columns and articles.
- Visibility – To Be the Red Jacket; stand away from all the other gray suits in the marketplace or at the B2B events
- SEO – Fresh and relevant content; Content is no longer King, but rather is now the Emperor
- Credibility – Demonstrate your expertise through educating not selling
- New Marketing Opportunities – Guest blogs to free PR
- Keeps you in the game – What is happening now in your local business community
From my perspective, your blog is also a way to show your business ethics especially the value of gratitude by offering guest blog columns to highlight other local small businesses through embedded or hot links. What you are doing is as they saying talking the talking and walking the walk of your business ethics as well as your commitment to the local b2b community.
The key marketing advantage local has over national to international is that you know what is happening within your business community be it here in Northwest Indiana (Hammond to Crown Point, Dyer to Michigan City) versus Indianapolis, IN or another state.
For example, there is a local contest here in Northwest Indiana withFamily Express seeking a social media person.
Several individuals have written articles or blog postings that have been posted on Valpo Life as well as their blogs. Now some folks have taken umbrage with this marketing tactic by Valpo Life and Family Express.
In my opinion that was short sighted. Even if Family Express selects someone else, you have attracted attention to your small business through your posting.
For many individuals, Valpo Life secures more traffic than their websites or blogs. This becomes a marketing opportunity to reach out further in your own local community and it does not cost one single dime except for your time to write the posting.
Locally, you have a much better opportunity in:
- Becoming the Red jacket
- Establishing your niche
- Excelling within your expertise
This happens because you:
- Engaged others
- Showed you cared, truly cared about others within your business community
There are other sites such as Yelp.com where you can review local hospitality businesses from restaurants to lodging is a great way to stay connected locally.
Through your Twitter stream or Facebook updates you can share good news about the success of others or even storm warning demonstrates you are connected to your local community of Northwest Indiana.
The challenge is people become so busy about their own wants and needs, they have a natural tendency to forget about others. Radio station WIIFM (What’s In For Me) broadcasts far louder than WIIFU (What’s In It for Us).
People buy from people and local people buy from local people. The good news is the more local buying that happens is the more dollars stay within the community and this increase economic gains for everyone.
Many of us as small business owners have websites or some sort of Internet presence. In many instances, this presence is at a nominal cost and becomes the most valuable marketing real estate we can ever hope to secure.
A Personal Story About Being Local in Social Media Marketing
The other day at a local B2B networking event I met a woman, closer to my age, whose consulting business was communication. Locally I usually recognize people’s names even if I cannot remember them. Her name did not strike any bells.
When I asked if she engaged in social media, she abruptly and rather brusquely informed me that social media does not work for her industry and her business. Thank heavens my emotional intelligence kept my jaw from hitting the table.
Upon returning to my office I did a quick search on the Internet and I can see why social media does not work because she has no Internet presence. Her LinkedIn profile had no picture and less than 10 connections; she was not on Twitter or Facebook and her website was inactive as it was as they say parked. No wonder local social media does not work for her.
She is of the old school and I am sure works her relationships very well. However, how much more business could she attract if she expanded her marketing into local social media especially given that marketing is all about communication. This is not someone I could recommend because she is clueless about communicating through social media.
The best analogy would be she is still driving a horse and buggy to meet her clients instead of driving a fuel efficient hybrid 4 wheel vehicle. Also do not forget local social media marketing builds customer loyalty as well.
As I said earlier to remember this one word – engage. Social media is truly about engagement and not impressions that being Twitter Followers, Facebook Fans or LinkedIn connections. How you engage with those within your small business communities will be directly proportional to your success provided you are engaging with your ideal customers.
To be or not to be in local social media marketing stream for small businesses is in my very humble opinion not the question to be answered. The better question would be: