By now, most local business owners are aware of how crucial it is to incorporate social media into their digital marketing efforts.
But what many don’t know is which social media platforms and review sites are best suited for their unique industry and type of business. When it comes to developing a digital marketing strategy, no two companies’ needs and goals are identical, even if they occupy the same industry — and the same is true when it comes to devising a social media marketing strategy.
How to Determine Which Outlets Are Best for Your Business
Using social media avenues to manage and boost your online reputation while engaging with prospective consumers requires an understanding of which social channels will bring the most bang for your buck. We’ve put together a list of things to consider when determining which social media and review sites are best for your industry.
With Facebook, businesses can establish themselves as an industry expert and build brand recognition and loyalty among a massive audience of prospective customers, but that doesn’t mean it’s the be-all and end-all option for every company. Although it works wonders for most every industry — education, auto, tourism, retail, just to name a few — it isn’t perfect for everyone.
And this makes sense because when you consider the brands and companies you’d like to know more about and engage with, you’re far more likely to engage with your university or local car dealership than a local waste management company.
One of the most common pitfalls businesses run into on Facebook is an overemphasis on aggressive posts directing people to make a purchase. Your Facebook strategy should never be merely about selling. Facebook is all about breaking down the barriers between your company and your client base, building relationships based on transparency and showing the people and stories behind your brand.
But that doesn’t mean your Facebook efforts won’t return a profit. According to Facebook-specific research from G/O Digital, the most important thing that prompted internet users to visit, call or schedule an appointment with a local business were offers they saw from that business on Facebook. You just need to remember users don’t want to exclusively see promotions from you. Culture and brand-related content build a strong following that is more likely to click on discounts when offered.
If you’re a local business that has frequent updates, breaking news or constant questions from customers, Twitter may be an ideal outlet for you. The popular and widely used hashtag feature in itself has tremendous potential for prompting customers to engage with your brand.
Because Twitter is filled with countless people who have opinions and questions to share, it gives you a valuable opportunity to monitor chatter about your business and your industry. You can provide a personal level of customer service or a simple conversation that’s sure to keep your brand fresh in followers’ minds.
If you’re a retailer, restaurant or any other business that uses images to showcase your products, Instagram is the place to be. Snapping pictures of your local restaurant’s mouthwatering dishes or your boutique’s latest products quickly captures the attention of anyone who follows you or searches for hashtags you use, and can be a major force in driving new customers into your business.
Even if you don’t have new products to share frequently, taking photos of your staff, sharing photos from customers who post about your products or finding other interesting ways to engage can encourage people to interact more with your brand.
Pinterest is a great place for your brand to start sharing visually appealing images that show your customers what your company is about without actually selling or pitching anything. If your customer base is predominantly female, it is incredibly important to develop a strategy for connecting with these users on Pinterest, as 71 percent of this platform’s 72.5 million users are women.
Local businesses that have a very visual product or brand, such as hair and beauty salons, retailers, furniture stores, fitness studios, etc., will do well with Pinterest. All of these businesses have their own visuals to share as well as other “inspiration”-type boards that will go a long way for shaping their online brand.
Although Yelp can be beneficial for a number of service-related industries, it’s most effective for restaurants, bars, retail fronts, entertainment venues and similar “experience” establishments. Yelp gives your potential customers a chance to see images of your business and what you have to offer while allowing them to read reviews from other local users — and we all know how powerful word of mouth can be.
If your business has less than a three-star rating, however, it may be difficult to leverage Yelp as a tool to attract new customers. There are tactics and methods you can employ to focus on bringing that rating up. If you have 3.5 stars or above, Yelp can be a huge player in driving new customers through your doors.
Because of the layout and nature of Google+, it really has the potential to be effective for any type of business. This platform works hand-in-hand with Google; it can work wonders for your rankings on Google’s search engine results pages and really boost your brand’s visibility. Plus, like Facebook and Yelp, Google+ allows users to publically review your business.
Although we recommend Google+ for every local business solely for boosting your SEO rankings, it has far fewer active users than Twitter and Facebook, and therefore should not be the only social platform you choose.
Should You Look for Outside Help?
Managing all of these platforms can be quite time consuming — especially for not-so-socially-savvy business owners. To that end, some local businesses might want to consider hiring a partner who specializes in social media management services to run their social channels. Social media is becoming an ever-more important part of our society and business’ online brands; external partners have the knowledge and know-how to navigate a constantly changing social media and review landscape.