5 Social Media Tips for Local Business

Getting Started with Social Media
When I talk with owners of small and local businesses, and I frequently hear a similar question, “How can I make social media work for my business?” It seems a lot of local service providers (vets, doctors, dry cleaners, etc.) want to get start using social media, but just don’t know how.

Some businesses, like restaurants, bars and clubs, seem like a natural fit for social media. An active online presence is a great way to get your customers to attract their friends through on social media sites like Facebook, FourSquare and Twitter.

Even if your company doesn’t seem like an obvious fit, there are ways social media can add value for your business. Here are five simple tips on getting started:

1) Start Small – You don’t need to create an account on every social media site at once. Think about the sites your customers use that also fit your business. Foursquare is great for destinations, Twitter can help quickly get news and updates out to your followers, Facebook is wonderful for building community and sharing tips and advice. Pick the one that aligns with your business and start with that. Later, you can add more accounts and link them together to expand your presence.

2) Exercise Moderation – When you get started with social media, it’s easy to get excited about the potential to connect with ALL your customers and prospects. But you don’t want to over do it and have your efforts backfire. Show a little restraint and post or tweet only when you have something worthwhile to say. For some businesses, that’s once a day (not several times a day). More likely, you’ll want to post or tweet once or twice a week.

3) Be Relevant – If you have some good tips that are related to your business, share them. Having a sale? Let everyone know. You might even want to have special offers or incentives for your followers. Not sure what to post? Think about what interests your customers. They don’t want to be bombarded with promotional messages, but useful info is always appreciated. If you’re a pet sitter, you could provide suggestions on how to keep pets happy and healthy while their owners are away. A dry cleaner? Try stain removal tricks.

4) Keep it Brief – You don’t need to write a novel to be successful with social media. If you message is short and to the point, it will be read. One useful trick when drafting a message is to write what you want to say, then go back through your draft an cut words you don’t really need. Any fluff and filler words should go, making your message more concise and powerful.

5) Get Personal – People like to know there’s a human heart behind the companies they do business with. This is especially important with local businesses. If you’ve ever used the line, “I know the owner… ” you know what I mean! Showing your personality in your posts makes them more interesting to read, and more compelling for customers. This doesn’t mean to share everything, but a conversational tone with a few interesting tidbits about your hobbies, pets, likes and dislikes makes you – and your business – more approachable.

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