Local businesses that don’t use social media platforms are missing out on opportunities that could attract more customers and help them reach new markets. When you want a local business to thrive, you have to include social media in your marketing plan.  Start with these items below:

Keep up With Current Trends

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When you look at the number of people using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, it quickly becomes obvious that businesses need to make this an essential part of their marketing strategy.

A local search study conducted by Localeze, comScore, and 15 Miles shows that 63 percent of the 4,000 people surveyed prefer using local businesses that offer information on social networks.

Websites like Facebook have become so prevalent, that people simply expect to find everything they need there. If they don’t find a business, they simply move on to a similar option that maintains a better online presence.

Establish a Brand Identity

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Local businesses face a lot of competition from larger corporations that often sell products at lower prices. As a smaller business, you have to convince potential customers that it makes sense for them to come to your store instead of that big box store with the big discounts.

Establishing a brand identity can help bring in customers who crave a personal shopping experience. Social media lets you create a personality for your business. Instead of a faceless corporation, you can make your local business seem more organic.

Using Twitter, for instance, gives your business a voice. Choose a voice that targets and motivates your intended audience.

Reach Out to New Customers

Social media lets people share content with each other just by clicking a button. Local businesses can use this trait to reach new customers. To do this, though, you need compelling content.

Shareable content isn’t necessarily as difficult or expensive as you might think. Try using YouTube to let your customers get a behind-the-scenes look at your store. If you have a creative spark, you could even spice things up with music, a plot, or a humorous script.

If you make something that appeals to your customers, their more likely to share it with other people. That exposes your name to more people, who could potentially become your newest customers.

Get Your Customers Involved

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If you’re going to get the most out of Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other social media outlets, then you have to be social. When you create content about your business, you’re not sending it out to an audience that never has a chance to respond. You’re communicating with people who can offer their own comments and suggestions.

Local businesses have several options that can get their customers more involved. You could set up a contest for people who share a photo or video advertising your business. Those who share the content get a chance to win a gift card.  You can also use services like Twitter and Foursquare to advertise limited-time deals. That can boost business on slow days.

Social media will continue to become more important to businesses of all sizes.

Which aspects of social media serve your business best?

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