It’s all well and good talking about huge social media campaigns but this week’s post will focus on the other end of the scale i.e. social media for small local businesses and how they can use social media to develop stronger ties with the local community. I want this article to go beyond the usual 10 ways to succeed at social media with a couple of case studies chucked in type post and to offer genuine value to my readers with something a bit different
This is the fancy way of saying ‘you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours’, in my experience small local businesses react well to a helping hand on social media, even if its nothing more than sharing their promotions amongst your followers its things like this which will enable the Smaller business to extend their network beyond immediate friends & family the first hurdle which a lot of local businesses fail to get over in my experience. Just as one swallow does not a summer make, one tweet doesn’t constitute a campaign it’s the lack of consistent effort which I find trips up SMEs entering the Social Media arena lack of consistent effort and overarching strategy which I find separates the professional from the amateur use of social media.
Social media strategy
I’m keen to go beyond the generic advice which constitutes most online articles, BUT a social media strategy is an essential requirement for using social media professionally and in order to have a social media strategy, goals are required, SMART guidelines (see bibliography) ensure that these goals are realistic and measurable, Obtain 50 Facebook followers by August 15th, 2016 is an example of a basic Smart Objective. The strength of this approach is that it generates further questions such as:
• Why do I want 50 Facebook followers?
• How do I get 50 Facebook followers?
• How can I get even more followers?
• How can I use Facebook to generate even more leads & custom?
These are the sorts of questions, which need to be considered when using Social Media effectively to promote your business, I’m not satisfied with the way my Facebook company page is performing, Twitters doing great but engagement is unsatisfactory on the Facebook page
One of the most lively Communities I’ve seen is Kendal Sell and Seek on Facebook which offers second-hand goods for sale to those based in the Kendal area, I’ve also seen it used for recommendations of local tradesmen and services, this is a goldmine for great quality word of mouth recommendations, as I’ve seen some local businesses in the Kendal area frequently recommended, a social network which aims to tap into this ‘local’ vibe is Streetlife.com which quite deliberately sets out to build a sense of community around a locale describing itself as ‘the local social network’, I’ve personally found work for a local charity from Streetlife and I’m sure if used more actively it would be great for local businesses aiming to raise their profile locally. In fact the notion of social networks is nothing new with the Legendary WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link), which has been in operation since 1985 making it one of the oldest virtual communities in existence serving the residents of San Francisco as with most virtual communities your status in the community will be influenced by how helpful you are to other members, so by helping others with expert advice you can raise your profile in a positive and sustainable way, I hear an awful lot of dodgy advice chucked around in my niche so if you can debunk some of the more common myths about your industry then you are providing a genuine service to your local community.
Its not all bad news for SMEs wishing to compete against larger companies/corporations with far more resources, they do have a genuine connection with the communities they serve its this which the SMEs who are successful with Social Media leverage rather than the tired generic social media which can at times categorise corporate social media channels, properly leveraged its this authenticity which underpins GREAT social media with SMEs frequently being the most effective .Jeff Brand sums it up beautifully when he states
Authenticity—you know it when you see it. It’s not a metric. It’s not easily measured. But it’s there. It’s that feeling you get when you see something either incredibly on brand or incredibly off point.hootsuite.com
I feel authenticity is something SMEs can and should be doing well, offer friendly genuine interaction with your customers and be a friendly face that can be trusted in the modern digital marketplace for the Small Local Business that’s the surest way to achieve success with Social Media NOT the generic Social best practices advice such as inspirational quote et al which quite frankly have been done to death, the problem which faces Smaller Businesses is how can they find the time to utilise Social Media effectively?
Further Reading & Bibliography
- Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (2011)
- Olivier Blanchard
- How Local Businesses Should Size Up & Tackle Social Mediasearchengineland.com
- How small businesses are making the most of social media to grow Guardian.co.uk
- Social media for SMEs: it’s all about engagement Telegraph.co.uk
- 5 Local Businesses That Have Mastered Social Media Marketing http://www.business2community.com
- The Best Social Media Strategy? Authenticity Hootsuite.com