Today’s guest blog post about social media strategy for local marketing utilizing Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare comes from someone I met Windmill Networking on My Blog Guest, AJ Wilcox. I asked AJ to write about the intersection of local Internet marketing and social media strategy, and he surpassed my expectations with this excellent blog post. AJ is the SEO Team Lead over at OrangeSoda, a local Internet marketing firm. He has been in love with Internet marketing for over 3 years, and has overseen over 2,000 SEO accounts. He is married with a 1 year old son and enjoys cars and running.
Your business may be using Twitter, Facebook, or Foursquare to be connected to its customers, but have you considered integrating all three? Each platform has individual strengths that can make your business’s social media strategy more effective, and they have platform integration functions that make it simple.
My expertise is in local, brick-and-mortar businesses, so I’d like to direct my thoughts towards this type of business. As I see it, there are 5 ways to use social media:
- Sales channel
- Customer interaction
- Reputation management
Let’s cover each channel in detail and how they can be integrated for the most cohesive strategy.
You company has a personality that goes along with the brand. You’ve probably contributed to it for as long as you’ve been involved. Social media can be a great way to establish that brand personality.
If your business is the stuffy, “professional” type, then your Facebook profile page should reflect that. Your tweets and status updates should be professional in nature. Everything coming from you is informational and inspires trust and authority. Yes, even tweets can encourage followers to utilize you as a resource. If your company is the fun, personable type, your Facebook page and tweets should follow suit. It’s all about the personality.
Discuss your company goals and strategy with employees interacting with the public through your social media to keep everything on brand. And I’m not really suggesting it. It’s a necessity.
Use social media to establish brand authority by mentioning industry news and showing you are on top of your game. A company that is involved and active in the industry will be a better place to do business than a company that won’t ever evolve.
Why did you originally start doing social media for your company? My guess is that it was because you thought that somehow you could use it to bolster sales and build your customer base. This is a fantastic use of social media, and it should definitely be used – but be careful not to overuse this channel. Remember that your fans/followers aren’t following you for the pure joy of being advertised to all day long.
Twitter and Facebook are really the keys to this channel. Did you just start selling a new product? Let people in your networks know. I personally wouldn’t let an advertisement tweet or update go out more than once in 5 or so messages. Foursquare will let you put a sticker in your store window to alert customers to the fact that you’re active, so they can get on and connect.
Remember, the wider your social network, the wider your advertising reach. The more of a reason you give potential customers to follow you, the more effective sales channel messages will be when customers arrive.
No matter what industry you are in, your customers are becoming more social-media savvy. Your customers will talk about you or to you on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and just about any other platform there is. Being available to respond to your customers’ questions, inquiries, tips, etc. is a great way to build loyalty. Your audience is putting more emphasis on being transparent, available, and savvy. Now is your chance to be there for them. Be real and don’t do automated responses. No one likes dealing with robots.
Think about it. If one of your customers tweets, “This sux, I went to pick up my order and it hadn’t arrived yet,” how about responding to them—immediately—with, “Sorry about your order! Our driver had a truck issue. It should be here at 3:30. We’re sending along a $5 gift card for the inconvenience.”
The customer would be stunned that you were listening and were willing to explain the issue clearly. They may have had a small inconvenience by dropping into the store simply to be turned away empty handed, but now they know it was because the truck was late. Instead of talking about your business as incompetent and uncaring, they leave a comment about your excellent customer service.
Imagine fielding customer service questions like, “How long is that sale going on this week?”, and “how late are you guys open tonight?” Your customers will feel like they are getting personal attention and will be more likely to frequent your establishment.
Twitter and Foursquare are fantastic for promotions. Consider doing a coupon, special, or contest with your social network.
Twitter is fantastic for contests and promotions. You can set rules directly related to your tweets, e.g., retweeting your announcement (and thereby invite their network to the promotion) counts as an entry to the contest. That means that every entry to the contest makes their whole network also aware of the promotion. As retweets fly around the twittersphere, thousands of people will end up seeing your promotion, and it’s a great way to build a larger following.
Foursquare is great for in-store promotions. As customers are checking foursquare in your area, a message will pop up saying that someone in their area is offering a special. Upon clicking, they will see whatever special you have set for your establishment. The best part about Foursquare is that the customer is already within walking distance, and any traffic you can build into your store would most likely be traffic that was not planning on visiting your store.
As a business on Foursquare, you also have access to a dashboard to see how often people are checking into your establishment. You also get to see who the Mayor is (the person who checks in to your store most often in the last 60 days), and have an opportunity to reward the mayor with a special offer. The best part of this is that it encourages check-ins by others who want to be the mayor and therefore have to come by more often. Your business profits from the additional traffic clamoring for the mayoral honor.
It has been said that a disappointed customers will tell 10 people about their awful experience. It is also true that it’s a lot easier to tell more than 10 people over a social media network incredibly effortlessly. Wherever a customer is talking, they will talk about you.
Enter social networks. When your company is being discussed publicly, you have the opportunity to participate in the conversation publicly. Stand up for your business decisions and diffuse angry customers. Remember that the longer a client’s concern goes unaddressed, the more they are going to scream and shout, so address it fast.
There are a wide variety of keyword monitoring tools for Twitter, both free and paid, to help you watch for mentions of your company on Twitter. Be part of the conversation.
Foursquare also allows customers to leave tips to other customers. Watch for negative tips and warnings, and immediately correct the issues that cause negative tips. If you ignore them, they just build up and damage your rep.
Any other social media advice that you can provide for local brick-and-mortar businesses? Please do share your experiences with us. And if you’d like to submit a guest blog post on Windmill Networking like AJ did, please contact me! Thanks!