Written By: Nate Vickery
Now that we’ve entered the 2018 arena of artificial intelligence, voice-activated search, virtual reality technology and almost impossible to believe levels or personalization, is it really necessary to emphasize the importance of social for a small business? Apparently, it is.
Considering the advancements we’ve mentioned, and that are bound to impact your online and offline business performance, it’s surprising (to put it mildly) that less than half of small businesses (or 44% to be more exact) rely on their social presence to boost brand awareness.
With the growing “nichification” of the marketplace, your business needs to continue finding ways to remain visible in the right places and at the right times, and maintain as many lines of communication as possible.
And for brick and mortar stores, local businesses that only sell their products and services to their local community, there couldn’t be a better way to become more visible, authentic and ultimately more profitable than by combining their social presence and focusing on local SEO growth.
Fine-tuning your street cred
Instead of creating social profiles everywhere and anywhere, it’s wise to consider how useful your efforts will be down the line because your designated locally-focused audience has its distinct preferences. Find where your customers are, and that’s where you should narrow your focus.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, your social presence and regular activity will generate organic brand recognition, allowing a slew of social media users to come across, remember and relate to your brand’s key signifiers. This is where your logos, slogans, tags, hashtags, even something as simple as color combinations make your brand stand out.
Once you’re out there, creating some buzz with regular posting, inspiring images, encouraging your customers to engage in a conversation, you give them the opportunity to build your brand reputation for you. And search engines love their reviews and link-sharing on social media! Studies have shown that positive feedback will help you increase your CTR and authority, and their importance will only grow in the years to come.
Greater visibility for the right audience
Whenever someone searches on Google, they send their trusty crawlers not only to your main website but your social pages as well, hence, your social shows up in SERPs, too. And if you have optimized them well, with a strong focus on making your presence known locally, you have better chances to pop up on the first page for someone who is searching for your specialty in your neighborhood.
Publish your address and other business details in online directories and show up on Google Maps, Google +, Foursquare, Yelp and similar locally-focused pages, plus customer reviews, and your brand will appear in front of the right audience, whether they are your customers or even your mighty influencers. This gives them a chance to check in, tag your brand and cause an avalanche of online visibility.
An increasing number of devices use location tracking, making your customers visible for the world wide web. So, when you decide to search for “lingerie sales” or “best coffee shop”, Google and other engines will hone the results depending on your current physical location and map out the most convenient stores nearby. And the more visible, active and present you are on your target audience’s preferred social sites, the better your rankings will be!
Adapting on the go
A major advantage of small businesses is that their localized presence is much easier to manage than that of a large, widely dispersed corporation. Perhaps they have a greater spending power to invest in their SEO strategies, but you as a small business owner can adapt your content from posting style, types of images, to the language finesses you use to appeal to your desired customers.
If you are a new player in the game of fashion design, for instance, and you still don’t know where you should be online, wouldn’t you appreciate the fact that 55% of Pinterest’s users have used the platform to find and purchase products? And wouldn’t that inspire you to create an account precisely on Pinterest?
You also have an easier time tracking your customers’ behavior, their preferences, as well as keeping an eye on all your marketing campaigns, simply because you have removed the notion of global presence from the equation.
Such in-depth insight gives you the tools to stay flexible, keep track of all your marketing efforts, and adjust your strategies based on your SEO reports as soon as you notice an oscillation in your audience’s preferences. Larger companies need much more time and diligence to implement those changes on an international or even just national scale, by which time more alterations might occur. On the other hand, a small, localized business can use the real-time data to adjust its game plan mid-action.
Engagement through the roof
Building a rapport with your customers is one of the best ways to ensure customer retention and take the reins of all the key elements that affect each customer’s lifecycle. From day one, when they make contact with your brand, even prior to the purchase, you have the opportunity to shape each line of communication and present your brand in the right light. And your local SEO efforts to stay on the map, combined with your ongoing social conversations are the pivotal moments of keeping this lifecycle, well, alive.
Let’s say you are a jewelry maker and you’ve posted an image on Pinterest that can inspire a conversation during the holiday season. Or you post a holiday promo code on your Facebook page, leading a few of your current customers to come back to your store or share your post, exposing you to even more curious eyes. Those are ideal conversation-starters that will generate a real buzz in your community, driving more traffic to your stores.
Even more importantly for any local-oriented business, whether you have a single or a multitude of stores, social networks are constantly developing new features to perfect your audience outreach. Take, for instance, the Facebook’s local awareness ads – a component designed to make use of your store address to provide dynamic copy and location links specific to each of your stores in different neighborhoods, and more importantly, target the people active in those areas and in the right time.
Combine that with the new Insights feature, and you have a winning blend of being in the right place at the right times and then having opportunities to analyze the behavior of the people in your store’s neighborhood.
On a final note
Thinking and acting locally to fine-tune your SEO and social strategy means that you can take personalizing your customer experience to a whole new level and breathe new life into your brand. You have a chance to become a valued expert in your community, a recognized voice, and a go-to product or service that is the personification of its core values.
So, encourage your customers to express their opinions, always make sure the information on your website and your social pages are consistent, make your presence known when it matters most to the people in your community and don’t be afraid to test new, locally-oriented keywords, hashtags and other time and location-specific details. It may seem small and irrelevant at first, but it could be your business’s ticket to stardom.
Nate Vickrey is a marketing consultant and an online author. He is mostly engaged in providing his expertise to startups and SMBs. He is also the executive editor at Bizzmark Blog and an author on TheNextWeb.