How Local Businesses Can Increase Their Social ROI
While social media is ubiquitous today, it began humbly on a site called SixDegrees.com, which allowed users to create a profile and "friend" other users. Sound familiar? The site is long gone (1997-2001, RIP), but the online networking premise lives on and continues to grow with each passing year.
As ever, it's the younger generations that tend to drive change and inspire new tech platforms in general, and social media specifically. When it comes to technology, Millennials and Gen Zers also tend to be more willing than previous generations to try new things and learn new programs. What this means for marketers is that they keep us on our toes. We must take notice when the winds are changing and try to keep pace, keep our budgets intact, and meet our overall goals. It can be a challenge, especially for local small-business owners or franchisees.
Don't get me wrong, advertising on social media is not difficult to do. However, the difficulty lies in doing it well, in getting your message in front of the right people on the right platform at the right time (theirs). If your target demographic is younger, multiply that difficulty level by two or three because of their use of non-mainstream social sites and general lack of brand loyalty.
So what can local marketers do to help improve their social ROI?
Time and place
In 2017, more than 81 percent of the U.S. population had at least one social media account, a number that rises to 90 percent for those under 30, according to market research company Statista; and worldwide, social media users spend an average of 135 minutes per day online.
Young people are on social media all the time and trust the brands they follow -- but you must know where to find them and how to get them to follow you. Seven of 10 Millennials are more likely to buy from a brand they follow on social, according to the Pew Research Center. Getting your customers to follow you on social lets you easily stay top of mind as they see your posts while scrolling through their feed. Posting relevant and engaging content will keep them and interested.
Do a bit of research on what sites your target demographic frequents. A number of sources release yearly or quarterly reports on site usage by age group. If your primary audience is 20 to 30 years old, make sure you're checking often. The most popular social media site with Millennials alone has changed three times in as many years.
Your posting tactics will vary a bit depending on your vertical, but consumer goods stores, services, and foodservice are examples of industries where owners should post regularly to inform consumers of specials, new items, or general information they might not be familiar with. Videos and images are great ways to grab attention quickly -- and retain it long enough to deliver your message.
Make sure you're standing out from the crowd with your profile and posts. For local businesses, it is absolutely necessary for customers to find you easily when they search for you or your product, whether that search takes place on Google or on a social site like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Just because people under 30 spend hours a day online doesn't mean they want to spend more than a few seconds looking for your business, or that they'll pay attention to more than just a basic name.
For example, I follow a local restaurant on Facebook and Instagram. They often post their daily specials and latest news on social. After seeing a picture of the special of the day, I went in for dinner and was disappointed when I found out that the special I saw was for their other location -- 50 miles away! It turns out I had been following my location on Facebook and the other one on Instagram. There wasn't anything to differentiate the two by profile name. You had to look at the bio, which I clearly did not.
Moral of the story: If there is more than one location, or if you could be confused with someone else, make sure your location is in your profile name somewhere -- whether that is the city you're in, the street you're on, or the part of town you're in -- especially if you're on a site that doesn't immediately show the address or location when your profile is displayed.
The biggest thing to remember is to know your demographic and place your information where they are. Whether that's in ads or organic posts, target the sites your customers frequent. Make sure they can find you easily when they need you.
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