Is your local business using social media to promote its products or services and get more customers? Do you think it’s not necessary to be active on social media as a smaller business? If so, this article is the perfect push in the right direction to convince you otherwise. As a local business, being present and active on social media is extremely important to be ahead of competitors. Our Toronto based digital marketing agency is going to show you why and how local businesses can benefit from social media.

Use video to connect with your audience

For restaurants especially, food is extremely visual and popular on social media. People love seeing how their food is prepared. Think of Italian chefs spinning the dough, or Japanese chefs making the sushi. It has become important for customers to see what goes on behind the scenes. That’s one of the main reasons video has become a key element in your social media strategy.

There are many different videos that can work for your specific business, for example tutorials or behind the scenes content. Show what makes you different: do you have an amazing product; do you prepare your food in a certain way? Make sure this all comes across in your videos, which will contribute to differentiating your business from others in the neighborhood.

The best platforms to share your videos on are probably Instagram and Facebook. Both platforms offer the possibility to share regular videos or add short ones to your ‘story’ (think of Snapchat). Either way, make sure your brand’s personality comes across in your videos so customers get to know who’s really behind the business.

Equipment also can’t be an excuse to not create video content. Everyone owns a smartphone by now and those devices can record beautiful clips nowadays. Stories are more short and authentic, whilst regular videos require a bit more editing.

Invest a budget in social media

Firstly, you need to ask yourself which social media channels would work best for your business. Most companies go for Instagram and / or Facebook, but it’s best to be present on multiple social media channels. Being active on those channels can boost the brand awareness of your local business. You must build a relationship with your customers using social media and in the beginning especially, you will need to spend some money on advertising. A valuable social media presence doesn’t happen instantly, which is why advertising is a must, certainly the first couple of months.

Use Facebook as part of your strategy

When it comes to local businesses, Facebook offers one of the best advertising platforms. Think of direct mailing 20 years ago, but digital. You can target certain postal codes or areas within a big city, or target the entire city if that’s your target audience. You can also upload your email list (more about this below) and target those who open your emails and those who don’t, more aggressively.

To generate more traffic and get more leads, you can engage your audience by asking certain questions or host contests. In that case, you can ask people to like and share a post, this way you reach a broader audience. Again, the pictures don’t have to be taken with the most expensive camera equipment in the world. In some cases a simple smartphone is more than sufficient. The more natural (and less professional) a picture looks, the less people will think it’s an advertisement.

Use Instagram as part of your strategy

Instagram has evolved so much over the past couple of years, and you need to adapt your strategy to those changes. Where in the past you had to post more than once a day, today quality goes over quantity and one post a day is more than enough. Instagram also introduced Stories a few months ago, which needs an entire other strategy on its own.

As mentioned before, a smartphone is often sufficient. However, when it comes to an Instagram feed, you want to spend more time on the quality of the photo. Think about the color schemes, compose the object, lighting… simply because Instagram is all about the visual aspect of it all. Mix the subjects from time to time (product shots, customer reposts…), as well as the type of content (videos, pictures, boomerang…). In the copy of your post, type a short description and don’t forget to include the most important hashtags.

Instagram Stories is very similar to Snapchat, as is the strategy. Share what’s going on behind-the-scenes and show the personality behind the business to make it more personal. Post about 5 short clips a day, more than that can get a little bit boring to watch.

If your business has a Facebook page, upgrade your Instagram page to a business profile. When doing so, Instagram offers you metrics and analytics about your posts and stories. You can also add an email address and a ‘shop now’ link with a business profile.

Use email marketing

Whenever you offer the possibility for your customers to order anything online, whether that’s food or actual products, you can use this to collect email addresses. Grow an email list to target the right subscribers at the right moment. Another great way to collect emails is to run campaigns on your website, such as hosting a giveaway or contest. This also provides you with content you can use on social media.

Balance the books

If you’re a local business owner, the everyday routine can get quite busy and social media may seem less important. But it’s not. That’s why it’s crucial to create a good strategy and to follow this religiously and consistently. While this will require a little budget for investment, you don’t need a huge budget or ton of money to spend on social media. A good strategy and great smartphone will get you a long way!