Friday, 5 December 2014

Social Media Tips: Target Local Search This Holiday Season


Social Media Tips: Target Local Search This Holiday Season
Christmas is nearly here, and with it the busiest shopping season of the year. Social media is a great way for businesses to get involved in the conversation, and leveraging different platforms to reach potential customers while they are online and searching for the perfect gift.
For local retail businesses in particular the holidays are a fantastic opportunity to increase sales, and if you have a consumer base in a specific geo-location a well-orchestrated social media strategy can help you strike gold. Here are a few simple social media marketing tips for your Xmas marketing plan:
1.       Identify your target market – Understanding your local market and customer is the first step to building an effective marketing strategy. According to a study*, 79% of people searching online look for local information, while 69% of searches are influenced by a geo-targeted location.  This makes it all the more important to know:
·         The buying pattern of your customers and the most sought after deals in your local market offered by competitors.
·         The most effective platforms - LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, or You Tube - for your specific target audience. For instance, if your business sells products or provides services directly to consumers (B2C) your best platforms may be Twitter, Instagram or Facebook; while if you are dealing with businesses (B2B) then you will most likely have more success on YouTube or LinkedIn. Focusing your time or money on a platform that is not popular among your customers will fail to deliver the desired results.
·         The most common social media behaviours prevalent in your local users. Conduct research on the activities of your target customer base on various digital platforms to understand the trending topics and discussions of your customers, using Google Analytics and tools such as Facebook Insights.
2.       Set up your Facebook/Twitter page as a Local Business - The best way to optimise your Facebook or Twitter page for a local audience is to set it up as a Local Business.  
a.       On Facebook, you can select the category of your page (go to Admin Panel > Manage > Edit Page > Basic Information> and then select the relevant category and sub-category for your business). Once your Facebook page is set up as a local business, add your details including street address, phone number and trading hours.
b.       On Twitter, include your current location in the Twitter information as well as a local keyword phrase in your Twitter bio.
c.       You can also include current location in your Google+ profile in the Places Lived section.
  1. Connect with Local Audience – Once your social media pages are optimised as local business, connect with the local audience by:
a.       Inviting your friends and customers to follow you, becoming fan of other local business pages, and sending status updates only to people in specific locations (by changing the dropdown for your status update from Public to targeted by location) on Facebook
b.       Finding local people on Twitter via Twitter lists and directories, and using the Twitter Advanced Search to monitor conversations of users near a particular place (which can be specified by name or zip code)
c.       Joining local networking groups on LinkedIn
d.     Having a publicly visible Google+ account (via Profile ‘Edit’ button), using the Google+ internal search to find local Google+ users that might be interested in your business, and connecting with them by adding them to circles.

4.       Run festive campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - Add a cohesive festive message across all your digital channels, to let your audience know that you are ready for Christmas. Decide the most effective language to be used for your targeted local market, and choose the tone and style of the messaging accordingly. You can:
·         Decorate your social media pages with colourful themes, or add a festive flavour to your website to show that you’re prepared for the holiday season.
·         Go beyond your product or business, and participate in the festive mood by posting Christmas greetings, sharing Christmas food and drinks recipes, or discussing local events with your followers or fans.
·         You can encourage your community to tag themselves at your business for extra brownie points. You can also create your own hashtag (#) on Twitter, so that all your followers can come together and participate in the conversation.
5.       Track conversations - When people are looking to buy something they often search social media for information and reviews. It’s always a good idea to track what your potential customers are discussing. If anyone talks about something relevant to your product, you can participate in the conversation and let them know about your business.  You can track conversations either manually or via tools like HootSuite or PinReach that analyse, measure, display, and create reports about the ongoing conversations on different platforms.
6.       Include special promotions and offers - Create special offers on your Twitter and Facebook pages that attract and encourage people to register, enrol, or purchase instantly. You can also share a special coupon code or sale with them to ensure repeat visitors to your page. You can create an advertisement or a sponsored story with your website URL through the Facebook Ads or even use promotional or marketing apps available.
7.       Engage people - Get people talking about their Christmas tips and gifts, and their holiday habits and activities on your pages.  Initiate and participate in discussions where you can add to the conversation. You can talk about your products and services, invite them over to your store, or even share special offers or discounts.
8.       Add a Tweet button to your website - Enable buttons on your content and product pages, so that people can share or tweet directly from your website.
9.       Use Pinterest to initiate discussions around shopping ideas – Leverage Pinterest as people rely on it to look for ideas on everything from creative cookie recipes to Christmas gifts. If you have an active audience, host a pin-to-win campaign on Pinterest.
10.   Send personal holiday greetings to loyal customers – Send personalised season greetings to your loyal customers. You could create an Instagram video and post it to Facebook, or send out direct messages to your followers on Twitter.
11.   Corporate Social Responsibility – Think about a charity or cause that you would like to support, and offer to donate a percentage of your season sales. Announce the percentage that you plan to donate on your social media platforms, track the total donation amount, and keep your customers informed about how it’s going.
12.   Monitor your campaign – Keep an eye on your campaign pages with a stringent monitoring schedule. You wouldn’t want to miss out on an important opportunity or conversation during this time of year.
13.  Analyse your Results - To ensure that local marketing strategies are getting the desired results, check outGoogle Analytics’ Audience Demographics data or Facebook Insights to see demographic information of people liking or sharing your content.
With most people using at least one social media platform, these tips will improve brand recognition and visibility amongst customers, help with repeat exposure of your business, grow your potential audience base, increase in-store customers, improve traffic to your website, and add a distinct competitive edge to your business.

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