As a small business, you need to use every opportunity to connect with your target audience and social networks might just be the thing you were looking for. At the moment, there are over 2.22 billion users on social media in the world, which is about one-third of humanity. Nevertheless, this is merely the tip of the iceberg and the real numbers are even more impressive.
When you pause to think who the people who don’t have social media profiles nowadays are, you’ll quickly realize that most of them aren’t your target demographic, to begin with. We’re talking about very young kids (while even this is debatable in 2018), people without the internet access (for whatever reason) and a small portion of the population that refuses to use them out of principle. Coincidentally and with the exception of the third group, neither of these demographics is your primary audience, to begin with.
Moreover, while, in theory, social media is supposed to help you establish an impressive global presence, you can achieve quite a bit by approaching your social media marketing with a local presence in mind. Overall, there are several things you need to know about the use of social media for local businesses.
1. Budget matters
The first thing you need to understand is the fact that the majority of small businesses have fairly limited budgets. For instance, a small family business may spend less than $5,000, while a small business with 5-20 employees, on average, spends less than $10,000. While social media marketing may not be a high-cost technique, it still requires skill that an inexperienced entrepreneur may possess. More than a half of small businesses execute their own marketing, and between 30 and 40 percent of them don’t even have a marketing plan (at least not the one exceeding a single month in advance).
2. Gathering feedback is vital
The main advantage of a local business lies in the fact that the owners belong to the same community, possibly even the same demographic, as their audience. Nevertheless, this advantage can sometimes turn into a disadvantage, especially since it can cause an entrepreneur to think they know exactly what their customers are thinking when this is clearly not the case. Instead of guessing, you should try extensive media monitoring. One of the best things here is that you can localize your search as much as you need to.
3. Online engagement boosts offline sales
Probably the most important thing you need to know about local searches is the fact that they don’t always directly result in online sales. In fact, 78 percent of local mobile searches eventually become offline sales. This means that your social media activity on a local level benefits your business, even if you don’t have a way of making a direct connection. Nonetheless, even though you might not be able to express it in numbers, this kind of indirect causality still works heavily in your favor. Moreover, the ROI (although obscure) is also quite great.
4. You need a strategy
Another thing you need to realize is the fact that just establishing a presence on social media isn’t enough to ensure success. Even with a healthy budget, you need to prioritize where your money is supposed to go. For instance, due to the fact that your Facebook is probably the main driving source for your sales, you need to invest in paid ads. Despite the fact that about three quarters (74 percent) of all local affiliates use Facebook, less than one-quarter (24 percent of them) are paying to advertise on this platform.
5. Become omnipresent
The next vital point of interest you need to keep an eye out for is the fact that you might be missing out on some of the smaller networks, believing that they wouldn’t drive any revenue. This is, again, where budgeting and self-managing your social media presence becomes a huge issue. You see, managing your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram accounts is time-consuming, as it is. Due to the fact that you have an entire business to run, tending to your YouTube channel, your Google+ profile and your page on Pinterest may seem as too much work. Nonetheless, with a social media management tool, this shouldn’t be that much of a problem.
6. Time, resources and expertise
At the end of the day, all of your social media efforts come down to three things – time, resources and expertise. As a small, local business, you probably won’t have either of these things on your side right away. On the other hand, it all depends on the goals that you set. Setting your goals too high will cause a no small degree of anxiety, while setting them too low may be a waste of both time and resources, no matter how little you decide to invest. This is probably why you should definitely hire some skilled help.
As you can see, your social media presence can make or break your local business, regardless of its size or industry. However, the impact is not all you have to worry about and only through skilled guidance will you be able to get the cost-effective impact you’ve been looking for.