I took to Twitter, Facebook and Google+ yesterday and asked the world (okay, a tiny portion of the world) if they had a burning social media or content marketing question. The call was answered by Lisa Warren, who asked:
“How can local firms with limited budget & resource get the most from social media? Is content marketing relevant to them?”
In the name of logic, I will tackle the first part of this question, first…
You can make the most of social media without having large budgets to splurge. It costs you nothing in monetary terms to run a successful Twitter feed for example. Of course, we all know that time is money, and that is where the cost comes in and can escalate if your time using social media is not spent wisely. Two key tips:
1 – Focus On a Key Platform
If you go out and try to have an active presence on multiple social media platforms, you may well end up spending a scary amount of time managing those and for little return. Focus on a key platform. For me, Twitter is the perfect starting place for a small or local business. A key factor in this is the ability to tap into conversations relevant to your business and within your locale.
Use Twitter advanced search to find conversations that may represent an opportunity. I’ve used the example of a plumber in this search, focussed on tweets from within Edinburgh. As you can see, many of the tweets are irrelevant, however there are some in there that are perfect examples. If a savvy plumber was using this simple technique and noticed a tweet such as ‘I really need the radiators fixed in my house’, there is no reason why Mr J Plumber shouldn’t send a friendly, non-pushy tweet in order to introduce their services. This is only scratching the surface of the potential of Twitter for local businesses, however it is an activity that will ensure your use of the platform is focussed. Blend this type of activity with relevant content curation and you will offer an attractive Twitter presence.
2 – Make it Part of Your Routine
In order to make the most of social media, you need to be regularly checking and interacting within your platforms. This can start to eat up some serious time within your day, however if you become regimented in your approach you can reduce the impact. Try to spend a little time within each hour of the day on social media. Even 5 minutes can go a long way, especially of you are keeping your platforms tight. It goes without saying that there will be times that you have to spend longer, and it is wise to bear in mind that the social media customer is prone to having little patience, so try to not leave people hanging for too long.
Now on to the second part of the question – is content marketing relevant to local businesses?
In a word, yes. I’d like to see more local businesses basing their websites around the practice of creating regular and relevant content. A bold move would be to make a blog the main web presence for a business. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds! A blog will:
- Help you to show your passion and knowledge for your business and the area it operates within
- Create personality for your business and show the character of the people within it
- Allow you to focus on key products or services
- Educate your customers – for example if you are a personal trainer, articles around exercise and diet
- Give you content to take to your audience on social media platforms
- Work wonders for your SEO (search engine optimisation) – a key factor in the Google algorithm is the presence of regular (and high quality) content
Many local businesses rely on regular custom in order to survive. Content helps you to build relationships, attract and retain custom.
A key attraction of using a blog platform is the control it offers. Spending some time learning the ins and outs of a service such as WordPress will allow you to create and publish content as and when suits you or when the business demands, as opposed to having to go to your web developer every time you want to refresh the site. You can easily add pages to your blog to cover the essentials such as contact details etc. The fact is that the lines are now blurred between ‘traditional’ websites and blogs; it is the shift to dynamic content that will make a business stand out.
One last tip – be sure to register your local business with Google Places for Business.
There you go Lisa, hopefully that answers your question!
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