Small Business Saturday is just behind us (for those who missed it, it was on December 3) and town and villages in the area have had their Super Saturdays and Christmas Markets; Buy North East initiative is running full steam ahead and many new business clubs and associations are being forged every day. I recently attended a BNI Solar meeting and Angela Kinghorn, Executive Director of BNI Scotland North pointed out that since the oil price collapse (promise, I won’t mention it again here) the interest in BNI membership, group’s meetings and the commitment from its members has picked up significantly, demonstrating willingness to collaborate more, do business among local businesses and the immediate connections we all have within the so-called “six degrees of separation”.
While I do digital marketing, I strongly believe that face to face networking is effective and should not be excluded from anyone’s business development strategy. However, like many things in life, networking takes time, and especially the process of developing business relationships from networking to making a pitch and converting to sales. Many small business owners lack the one resource that’s universally finite – time. So how can you network and market your business locally without splurging on google ads or having to attend every possible networking meeting in your area?
Enter Facebook. It's not dead, far from it! There are as many as 40 million small business pages on Facebook, that's 10 million more than a year ago and the number is still growing. True, multiple algorithm updates have made it extremely difficult for small businesses’ Pages to reach their audience, but don’t give up on Facebook just yet!
Here are a few tips to help you improve your local marketing online.
Facebook Groups and Communities: Challenges usually spark creative solutions and Facebook is not an exception when it comes to local marketing. Groups and communities with local commercial focus have popped up and if you want to target your sales locally you should definitely give them a try.
Take Aberdeenshire as an example (it’s my home, so forgive the bias), there is a great number of local business networking groups, join them, read admin’s rules and make the most of them:
- Grampian Business Finder
- Aberdeenshire Business
- Whats On in Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire
- Grampian Small Businesses
- Aberdeen & Shire Businesses, Markets & Events
- Aberdeen & Stonehaven Facebay
- Shop Local Aberdeen
- Aberdeen Alternative What's On
- Buy North East
- Buy Local Aberdeen
You can find many more if you just start typing similar group names but with your town/village/region name, be that ‘Facebay Dundee’, ‘Buy Local Edinburgh’ etc.
Facebook Pages: Don’t give up on your business page on Facebook – make sure it’s updated with content, especially such that can be of interest and add value to your audience, rather than just blatant offers and promotions. Facebook has stated that it will favour the content that is seen to be of informative value, rather than promotional.
Ditch promotions, start telling stories. Consider doing a ‘how to’ post that’s a mini tutorial with images or even better – videos. Facebook loves videos! Show what happens behind the scenes of your business – showcase stories about your team, you part in a local community, how something is made, etc. (If you are stuck for ideas, drop me a note).
Engage as your Page. Engage with other businesses not as you, the person, but as your business Page. That way your Page will gain more visibility and will drive more engagement. Share others’ content as your business page (not as a person).
Like other Pages as your business:
1. Open a page you want to follow and engage with as your business, click on three dots with ‘More’
2. Select ‘Like as your page’ from the drop down
3. Select the page you want to like as from the next drop down
Browse other Pages’ updates as your business page. From your Page’s home screen, on the right-hand side click ‘See Pages Feed’ and you will see an update from businesses that you have liked as your business, where you can engage with their content as your business.
To share other Pages’ content to your page, click ‘share’, select ‘share to a page’ and then ‘share to a page you manage’
Get Creative with your content: Have a look at Days of the Year – is there a day that’s relevant to what you do? Then plan some content or an event around it and share it on social media.
Google My Business: Get a listing on Google My Business. It takes a few minutes to set up and it’s easy to claim and verify. https://business.google.com/add/info You don’t have to have a website or a brick and mortar to store front to have a page, but you must be the business owner and comply with the rules to set the page up. From there, you can upload exterior and interior photos, short profile, review business reviews and reply to them and do much more.
There is a great deal of other resources to market your business online locally, so if you are stuck or don’t know what would work best for you, drop me a line and I’d be happy to help you figure things out.
Lastly, if you would like a FREE social media audit to understand how well your business is marketed locally, sign up here: FREE SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIT.