Social media for small businesses: 12 tips to boost your local marketing

A successful local business is one that nurtures relationships with its clients and one that people talk about. Can you think of a better online place for that than social media? It’s where you can engage, share, and get the conversation about your business going. At the same time, social media feels like a struggle to many small business owners. Something you have to do, but don’t really know how. Don’t fret, here are some essential social media tips to boost your local marketing.

First, we’ll help you figure out which platforms would suit your business best. Then, we’ll give you 12 tips on how to use social media to get a headstart on your local competitors! But before we begin:

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Which platforms should you use?

Many local businesses already struggle with the first and most obvious question: which platform should I use? There are so many out there, should I have a profile on all of them? If there’s a new one, should I jump on the bandwagon right away? Well, we advise thinking that through a bit. It’s much better to have one or two very active profiles than ten silent ones. Okay, so one or two, that doesn’t sound like much. But, which ones should you choose? 

Consider what your customers use 

Don’t just go by instinct on this one. Just because Facebook is the most popular platform, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for your target group. The best thing you can do is research what platforms your customers use. You can do that by sending a small survey via email or asking them in person when they visit your shop. Either way, it’s worth putting in the effort and finding out which platform will give you the best chance to reach your clients. If you have no clue of the whereabouts of your audience, get to know them a bit better!

Find a platform that matches your business needs 

Think about what platform is the best match for your business. Can you showcase your products or services with fun and engaging visuals? And, what kind of an approach will you have – do you want to be more formal or casual? For example, if you are a lawyer, it won’t make much sense to be on Instagram or Snapchat and post funny pictures or videos. You’ll need a more professional approach, where you will be able to show your expertise. So, in that case, LinkedIn could be a more appropriate platform. 

Think about these things and be strategic about it. It’s better to go into it prepared than to rush in head-first with no plan. Learn more in our article about setting up a social media strategy.

Social media tips for small business

There are many things to keep in mind when you’re thinking about social media as a small business owner. But these tips will help you keep focused and motivated:

#1. Give it time (now and later)

It will take time, perseverance, and a strategy to get things going on social media as a local business. Perhaps now, you are just putting your extra time into social media. Whereas investing actual, accountable time in social media will probably pay off way more. So, do reserve some serious time for it. If it’s an afterthought, it will never take off.

Also, keep your expectations in check: your social following won’t grow overnight. Don’t expect people to follow you right after creating a profile. You need to invest that time we talked about. And creating a profile isn’t investing time, that will be done in a few minutes. The actual time investment starts right after that. What comes after setting up your profile? Well, for instance:

#2. Create relevant content for your (local) audience

You need to make sure your messages/mentions/promotions/articles are worth sharing. In other words, your content has to be relevant and worthwhile. This need for relevance can hold back certain businesses from using social media. People often say:

“But I have nothing worth sharing.”

That’s nonsense. If you are good at what you do, you’ll have (local) projects, testimonials, pictures, and quotes worth sharing. No need to write new blog posts every day, simply find something you’re proud of and share it online. And if you do want to start a blog, Marieke has some tips to get inspiration for you. 

Want to create the right content for your local audience? Check out this post with tips for your local content strategy.

#3. Post regularly 

What’s also important is being active and posting regularly on your social media profiles. So, what exactly should you post there? Well, each platform is unique. For example, Facebook offers many possibilities to share content in various formats like photos, videos, or post links to your site. Conveniently, people there can easily share your content and help you grow your follower base. 

Some platforms, like Twitter, are excellent for engagement. You can easily spot when someone is mentioning you on Twitter and jump into the conversion. If you decide to go on Twitter, put effort into engaging with your audience by replying to comments, retweeting, reposting, and joining in conversations with hashtags or replies. 

What if you mostly want to post photos and videos? You can do that too! Use Instagram, Snapchat, or YouTube. If you need a more formal approach, LinkedIn can be a great way to join various groups related to your business and participate in conversations. 

#4. Add the correct NAP details

Social media profiles are great for another reason that also helps your local customers. They allow you to add essential information like your name, address, a phone number (NAP details), and a link to your website. You should keep this information consistent across all platforms. This way you will make it easier for search engines and your customers to find you

#5. Use local hashtags on Twitter

Twitter is an excellent way to send messages and interact with your local community. Hashtags allow you to connect your tweet to an individual subject, without having to add an extensive introduction. It’s being used to tweet about television shows like #GoT or cities like #Seattle. Especially adding your town’s name to a tweet will get you local attention. We can confirm this works even for #Wijchen, the small town where we’re located.

#6. Facebook: local groups and boosting

Promote your page to your personal friends, get likes, and share updates and photos. Note that for sales posts (“Buy our product!”), you have a better chance of success if you ‘boost‘ your post just a little bit. Boosting can be done for a specified audience, with the location being one of the filters. This means your post will be specifically promoted in your area.

Another reason that Facebook is an attractive choice for your social media efforts is Facebook Groups. Facebook Groups can be about just about everything. A quick search for Facebook groups about Houston shows how much variety there is:

google results for search query facebook group houston
Search result for Facebook groups in Houston

Startup entrepreneurs, people interested in selling and buying online, real estate investors, but also local musicians, recipes or a love for thrifting. You name the subject, and Facebook has a group for you. As you can see, this also means networking groups for local business people. Just search and find the group that fits your needs. Introduce yourself and your business, and engage in discussions. That’s an easy, time-efficient way to promote yourself and your company to a local audience.

#7. Use relevant local hashtags on Instagram

Do you have product images or photos worth sharing? In that case, Instagram might be the social platform for you. Instagram works with hashtags, much like Twitter. I use hashtag apps like Tag o’Matic to find the right ones matching my content. Hashtags on Instagram work like a charm when adding local content. An example of relevant hashtags for the city of Seattle:

#seattle #seattlelife #seattleart #seattleartist #seattlelove #downtownseattle #spaceneedle #spaceneedleview #spaceneedles #washington #spaceneedleseattle #washingtonstate #seattlewa #seattleskyline #seattlecenter

It took me 30 seconds to find 15 relevant local hashtags using that last app. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags a post, by the way. Try to use these, but do keep them relevant.

#8. Don’t just sell

When engaging with your customers, don’t try to sell them something immediately. Play the long game and try to establish friendly relationships. It may cost time, patience, and effort, but it will be worth it. The more you engage, the more people will know about you, and the easier it will be for them to find your website and use your product or service again and again.

#9. Use high-quality images 

At a minimum, use a high-quality logo, or a personal photo if that is more appropriate in your case. Some platforms let you set up a cover image that appears at the top of the profile. Use that space and pick a high-resolution photo or a graphic representation of your business.

If you share a blog post, make sure your post looks fine on the social platform you’re publishing it on. With Yoast SEO Premium this is super easy, because when you’re working on your post you can check what it will look like when shared on Facebook and Twitter:

social media preview in yoast seo premium
Check what your post will look like on social with Yoast SEO Premium

#10. Experiment and find out what fits your needs

There are many social media platforms and it is up to you to decide which one(s) suits your needs. The important thing is to start with one and try things out. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your voice, content format, and media. Be deliberate in finding out what works for you. How to find out which efforts pay off? Our next tip can help you with that. 

#11. Measure your social media efforts

Keeping track of followers and reach gives you an indication of how well your strategy is working. Most social media offer their own tools to provide insights into which posts work well and which don’t. Focus on the numbers that tell you something about engagement, to see what social networks do indeed help you build your community.

Keep a keen eye on trends and engagement, as that is the most important thing in my opinion. If you want more information on social media and the traffic it brings to your site, you can use UTM tags and Google Analytics to measure your social media efforts.

#12. Don’t give up

One final factor that I would like to mention when it comes to social media for small businesses is determination. To work properly, social media for small businesses has to be a continuous process of publishing and engaging. Saying “I have tried social media and it’s just not my thing” doesn’t show determination. You may have tried Snapchat, and found out that it’s not your cup of tea. That’s fine. But perhaps Facebook is. And maybe posting on Facebook isn’t for you, but engaging in Facebook Groups might be. Don’t get discouraged after one disappointing experience.

Of course, there are many social media platforms for small businesses. Some you might not think of right away are review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. They shouldn’t be forgotten, especially if your business is mentioned on these sites. Be sure to monitor your mentions there and act on them if needed. That’s also being social!

Also, remember that your employees are your brand ambassadors on social media. They love your company, enjoy working there, and are most likely to share a lot of your social content. Your employees can create that local snowball effect. After all, most of their connections on Facebook are probably located in the same geographical area as you. Acknowledge this, and stay aware of the value of these ‘in-house’ shares.

Read more: Ultimate guide to small business SEO »

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