Using Social Media to Find Local Customers for Your Small Business

Buy LocalHow would you like to target potential customers for your small business-but only in your local area? Targeting local traffic is an important website marketing strategy for small businesses. According to a variety of studies that have been done regarding website traffic, approximately 80% of people doing an online business search are searching for local businesses. But what if you want prospective customers to know that you are here locally? Here is where Social Media can help!
Promoting through social media sites is a new way that offers a lot to your business, mostly for free. Utilizing social networking sites is an effective way to draw local customers to your website. Here are a few social media tools to use:

FREE TOOLS

Twitter

In Twitter you can literally find tweets that mention your topic of expertise, from people who are geographically close to you. The way to do this is by using Twitter search. But instead of using the basic Twitter search box, you would want to use the Twitter Advanced Search page, which will allow you search locally.
To access the Twitter Advanced Search page type the keywords you want to search for in the usual Twitter search box and press Enter. You’ll see a results page that gives you a list of tweets that include those keywords. Click the down arrow next to the ‘cog’ in the corner of the page, then click Advanced Search. This reveals the Twitter Advanced Search page where you can really narrow your search. Type in your keywords then go to the Places box. Enter the geographical area you work in and then click Search. You’ll get a list of tweets that include your keywords, from people who are in the location you searched on. To save this search for future use click the drop down arrow on the search results page next to the ‘cog’ and click Save Search. The next time you want to look at this search click in the basic search box and a list of your saved searches will appear.
Using Twitter search in this way helps you find opportunities and people to add to your network.

Twellow

Twellow is a Twitter related tools that permit you to specifically target users who are among a certain area of interest and those who yield the most influence on the site. Once you’ve identified these people, you should follow them and hope that they return the favor.
You simply open up a Twellow account. At the top of the page you will see “Find Twellow users anywhere.” Just enter your city or location and start clicking on users you would like to target. Once they follow you back then start engaging with them.

Facebook

If you want to build brand awareness and connect with your customers, there is no beating Facebook. To claim and set up the Facebook Places page for your business. The first step is to create your Facebook Page by going to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php. When you click on Local Business or Place, you will be taken to a page that will require you to fill in the required details of your business. After this you can use your admin panel to edit your page, build your audience, and fill your page with the requisite content. Once you have created your official local business page on Facebook, it’s time to claim your Facebook Places page.
Go to your Facebook Business Page and click on the arrow on the box next to “edit” and select ‘Is this your Business?’ When you click on it you will be taken through a series of steps that will ask for information about your business. You will now need to verify your connection to the business by either choosing an email verification process or by uploading the necessary documentation. Choose the email option only if you have an email address linked to your Facebook account and which also serves as your business email address. In terms of documentation, you will need to scan or click a picture of an official business document, like business license, tax file, phone bill, etc., and upload it.
Now you are done claiming and setting up a Facebook profile for your local business. All you need to do now is start managing it.

Foursquare

Foursquare is a location-based social networking site for mobile devices that gives your business a mobile footprint. With more people using mobile devices to search for businesses, a presence on Foursquare is one of the most popular social media tool for local businesses. Create a Foursquare Page and connect it with your Twitter account. When you create your page make sure you complete your Page Profile. Now you want to add your listing to Foursquare’s searchable database. If you don’t have a business listing, you can create it on https://foursquare.com/login?continue=%2Fadd_venue. The business listing will ask for your phone number, your website’s URL, links to your Twitter and Facebook profiles, hours of operation, and description of your business. Make sure you leave no information out.
Once your business listing has been added to Foursquare, claim it. When you claim your location, you are telling Foursquare you are the manager of that venue. You can claim multiple locations of Foursquare; all you need to do is to provide verifiable contact information. Once you are done listing and claiming your location on Foursquare, you can begin adding specials, checking your analytics, and a whole lot more. But the most important way to use Foursquare is to take the time to build up a network of just local followers and interact with them.

Google + Local

The local pages on Google+ Local closely resemble company Facebook Pages —they interact with Google Maps, Zagat reviews, and Google+. But the big thing is that your local pages will be indexed by search engines. Just click here to read my article on how to put your small business on the map!

PAID TOOLS

Yelp

This is another directory that is scaling the popularity charts, though for a small monthly fee. The 3-step process to be followed for claiming a Yelp listing for your business is similar to the processes on other sites. First go to https://biz.yelp.com/claiming. Type in the name of your business. If it shows up and is unlocked, somebody has already claimed it. If it turns up locked, click on the ‘Unlock’ button.
Another scenario is that your business listing doesn’t turn up in search. Don’t worry, just click on the ‘Add your business to Yelp’ link, which will take you to a page that will allow you to do just that. Once you click on ‘Add’, you are done. Now wait for the confirmation email from Yelp. You are done claiming your listing. Now you need to optimize the page by adding as much business information as you can. This could mean including more business information, photos, responding to reviews, and a whole lot more.

“The Bottom Line”

In using these social media tools, it’s very important that all your profiles contain complete and up to date information. Also, your contact addresses and phone numbers must be the same across all your profiles. Maintaining profile consistency across different online directories will boost your local SEO efforts and allow you to target market local customers for your business.

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10 Ways to Measure Social Media for Business

Is your business a social business? Companies that are making good use of social media should take the next step and measure the progress of their social media programs and campaigns. How do you know if you’re succeeding if you don’t have the numbers?

Today we’ll look at 10 ways that metrics can offer visibility into your business’s performance. You won’t want to chart all of these, but tracking a few well-chosen metrics — and incorporating the learning’s into your business processes — can contribute to the bottom line.

Customer Engagement

1. Engagement can take place offline and online, on your site, on your social networks and in real-world face-to-face events. By letting customers participate in conversations about your brand, you can improve your business, your products and your levels of service. Ultimately, customer engagement is key to improving satisfaction and loyalty rates and revenue.

Metrics to track could include:

  • Number of followers on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Number of retweets on Twitter
  • Number of comments per blog post
  • Number of external widgets embedded
  • Invaluable assets as re-distributors of content
  • Customer reviews and ratings

Note: Such customer interaction can be invaluable in fostering a culture of community and in guiding product development. In addition, endorsements can be used as testimonials in marketing materials (with permission).

Sales & Profits

2. In the end, you business’s social media efforts need to not just generate customer goodwill — it should contribute to your company’s bottom line.

Metrics to keep an eye on include:

  • Track sales from Google referrals
  • Sales from paid search
  • Sales as a result of social network mentions

Dell said it made $3 million selling products to its Twitter followers on the strength of coupons and discounts that other Twitterers gladly passed along vi-rally as tipsters. And Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” blender’s campaign on YouTube helped to drive a 500 percent increase in sales in 2010.  Just don’t expect the needle to move right away!

Search Marketing & Rankings

3. The importance of search engine optimization to your brand cannot be overstated: SEO & social media efforts should significantly increase your site’s visibility & performance in search results. It should also help you rank prominently for targeted items and increase your long-tail traffic. Identify and incorporate targeted keywords on major landing pages on your site. Strategically use keywords on social networks as well, such as Facebook. You can use links from Twitter or YouTube to claim valuable search rankings on your brand search terms. Tweets that rank for targeted keyword can lead to traffic from keywords that the site does not rank for.

Whenever someone shares content from your site on a social site, you get a link back and a submission history. Try to convert one-time visitors from Digg, StumbleUpon and other social news sites into long-term members of your community.

Traffic & Conversation Reach

4. Your business can produce the most gorgeous, well-manicured press releases in the world. But unless you get customers talking about your product or service and generating traffic to your website, micro-site or social networks, you’re missing the boat. Raw traffic is important, but you’ll want to measure traffic from segmented audiences that you’re targeting-people who are likely to follow you or more so, buy from you. Also chart the number of visitors to your social networks.

Brand Sentiment

5. The nature and purpose of public relations and external communications is changing from an industrial-era paradigm to one of facilitation and curation. Go with it — help create evangelists for your products or services among your most ardent fans. Word of mouth and the viral nature of sites like Twitter, Facebook and Digg can help shift your company’s key brand metrics.

You’ll need a more sophisticated set of metrics tools to gauge the following: Brand awareness, brand favor-ability, brand recall, propensity to buy, etc. (TV ads are measured in this way.) A positive brand associations via social media efforts can help drive clicks on paid search ads. Use a social media service to measure brand sentiment.

Public Outreach

6. The worlds of public relations, customer service and marketing are merging. Social media enables customers to interact with all channels within a company. Traditional metrics, such as column inches in newspapers and magazines, are becoming less relevant over time. Outreach to blogosphere & Twitterverse is becoming as important as outreach to media organizations. Consider creating a social media newsroom that offers bloggers and news organizations a rich set of multimedia, bullet-ed takeaways and quotes from key participants. Then track the number of mentions on social sites by using the bit.ly url shortener.

Lead Generation

7. Social media is becoming a funnel for lead generation. A number of tools now let you track business prospects through sophisticated filtering mechanisms. Use LinkedIn to connect with potential business partners and clients, and chart the rate of invitations accepted and follow-up communications acted upon. See which kinds of messaging are resonating.

Here’s an opportunity for your internal teams to work together to optimize your site for keywords and key phrases. It’s always better when potential customers come to you.

Customer Retention

8. We’re moving into an age of optimization and retention. Watch your retention rates as you start participating in social media. Over time, if your team uses social media intelligently, they should rise. Zappos, which uses Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube for its social media efforts, has exceeded $1 billion in sales. Some 75 percent of its orders are repeat customers. Make sure you monitor your repeat customers and shower them with love.

Cost Savings

9. In this age of cost-cutting, companies are looking to apply savings wherever they can. Cisco saved $250,000 by using social media rather than traditional PR and marketing to roll out its Data Center project.

Crowd sourcing has become an increasingly popular way for businesses to leverage customers and outside parties for savings. Consider how cost reductions can be applied in a way that benefits the bottom line while not infringing on worker rights or jeopardizing health and environmental standards. Then measure how each initiative contributes to cost containment.

Employee Recruitment

10. The brightest young minds coming into the workplace today live, breathe and understand social media. Show them that you’re a genuine social business and not just another company hunkering down in the wake of the social media revolution. Measure incoming employees’ sentiment about your company. What are they saying? What attracted them?

Measure exiting employees’ sentiment. Assign someone from human relations, with no stake in the matter, to conduct exit interviews. Assess their feedback — and take it to heart.

By JD Lasica of Socialmedia.biz

These are 10 ideas, but it’s not a complete list. List your ideas in the comments below.

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