For local small-medium businesses (SMBs), the seasons bring more than a change in weather; they bring with them an additional revenue stream from the flow of seasonal tourists to local attractions, concerts, fairs, and special events.
THE CHALLENGE for most SMBs is finding an opportunity to communicate their marketing message directly to consumers who are visiting from other parts of the province, state, country, or even the world.
THE SOLUTION is to adopt a locally-focused social media marketing strategy that is tailored for tourists searching for local information, tips, and advice before and during their visit.To reach tourists, target local visitors with locally-focused content on the social networks they use most.Click To Tweet
To ensure that SMBs reach local visitors with their marketing message, they must create and contribute locally-focused content that targets tourists on the social networks they use most. To achieve this, businesses must:
- Include Location In Social Media Profiles And Posts
- Monitor And Contribute To Local And Event Hashtag Conversations
- Collaborate With Other Local Businesses, Organizations, Agencies
1. Add Location To Social Media Posts & Profiles
Aside from providing a carefully crafted introduction to visitors, the description included in your social media profile also communicates valuable information to search engines.
Within your profile’s description, you should include the name of your city or town (and perhaps even province/state to avoid confusion), as well as local landmarks that are close to your business.
For example: “Located in downtown Cornwall, Ontario.”
Both Google and Facebook offer Local Business pages to help you increase your exposure across their platforms. Although Twitter does not offer a dedicated page for businesses, it does encourage users to include a valid geographic location on their profile.
Including your business in Google My Business connects your business directly with web consumers, whether they are searching for information using Google Search, Maps or Google+, and regardless of what device they are using (computer, mobile phone, or tablet).
Your business’ page will provide driving directions to your business, display your hours of operations, and include a telephone number that mobile phone users can click on to call you.
Add Location To Facebook Profile
When Facebook introduced Graph Search, they announced that their users were performing 1 billion search queries per day. According to the platform, most of these queries were related to local information.
Some examples of these locally related searches included:
- Specific interests in a particular city.
- Photos/videos taken in a particular city.
- Restaurants in a particular city.
From a marketer’s perspective, this clearly demonstrates Facebook’s intention to work towards becoming a leader in connecting people with their favorite local businesses.
To capitalize on opportunities to connect with the local Facebook audience, be sure to use your local street address and phone number with a local area code for the best results. As well, add your business as your current workplace under the “About” tab in the “Work and Education” section of your personal profile.
Another feature that will increase your exposure to tourists on Facebook is to add your business location. This will help your business display as a “nearby place” when users perform a search on Facebook. To benefit from this, it is important that you have added all of your basic Page information, including your business name, the proper category (must be Companies & Organizations or Local Businesses), local address, telephone number, store operating hours, username, and a short description of your business.
To let people check-in at your business’ location, go to your page’s Address section. Below the map, select the box next to “Show map and check-ins on the Page.”
It is important to note that places the user’s friends have recommended or checked into will be displayed higher. Additionally, results that are similar to the people, places, and things that a friend has already connected to may be ranked higher; as well.
Add Location To Facebook Posts
Providing information about your location increases the relevancy of your posts when visitors are searching for local stores and services.
Adding your location to your Facebook posts is another very effective way to gain local exposure with Facebook users, whether they be residents or visitors to the area.
Selecting the location icon at the bottom of your post will open up a list of known places near your current location. You may either select one of the existing nearby places on the list, or begin typing your location. Click on a location to add it to your status.
Add Location To Twitter Profile
According to the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), 34% of Twitter users do not provide a valid geographic location on their Twitter user profile. Instead, many take the opportunity to make jokes, reference celebrities (such as Bieberville, Justin Bieber’s heart, and Bieberacademy), or provide no or non-real location information. If you are not providing valid location information on your business’ Twitter profile, you are missing out on opportunities to connect with users shopping locally.
The advanced page of Twitter’s search engine has an option to search “near this place.” You can simply enter your city or town and get a real-time stream of all the people tweeting from a specific location or near it. These targeted Twitter search results are influenced by the location field in people’s Twitter bio.
For fun, try an advanced Twitter search of “near:Cornwall within:25km”
Add Location To Twitter Posts
Twitter is another social media platform that allows you to show your followers the location you are posting from as part of your Tweet. Users can add a general location such as “Cornwall Ontario,” or choose the name of a specific business, landmark, or other point of interest.
Sharing your location allows Twitter to deliver your content to users near your location, as well as include it in location-specific trends that will improve your exposure.
To include your location in your Tweet, select the location marker at the bottom of your post after composing your message, and then choose the location you wish to add.
2. Monitor And Contribute To Hashtag Conversations
The hashtag has emerged as the most popular means of categorizing social media content around a common theme or interest. When looking for local insights, hashtags can deliver a wealth of information about local interests and sentiment, as well as provide you a receptive audience in which to share branded marketing messages.
All the major events (fairs, concerts, etc.) in your area SHOULD have a hashtag for visitors to monitor and contribute to. Aside from being very effective in pulling a conversation together, hashtags make it easy for people to find event photos and interact with attendees.
To encourage engagement with your business, re-share and mention great pieces of content that attendees are sharing with the event’s hashtag.
Adding a hashtag to the name of your city or town is a good place to begin looking for a local conversation to participate in. Also, established neighborhoods, local landmarks and attractions provide the focus for many online conversations; as well. Perform a search, including a hashtag, for relevant locations in individual networks. Respond and retweet to engage with conversations.
Although the posts you are engaging with may not be directly with tourists, getting your business/brand into the local conversation increases your visibility when visitors arrive for vacations and events, and search for local information.
3. Collaborate With Local Businesses, Organizations & Agencies
One of the best ways to connect with your community is by making meaningful contributions to other Local Business pages.
By interacting regularly with other local pages as your own business page, this includes re-sharing, commenting on, and tagging others in posts, you will build relationships and increase your own exposure locally.
If Riley’s Bakery used apples from Marlin’s Orchards to bake pies for the Agape Centre Bake Sale, all three of these businesses/organization would have a keen interest in sharing each other’s content related to the bakery baking the pies, the orchard picking and providing the apples, and the non-profit organization raising money to help others. Their combined efforts tell a great story.
Even though they did not directly collaborate on a marketing campaign, you see how opportunities can present themselves, and give businesses a chance to tell the audience a story about their unique contributions.
Another great way to increase your business’ exposure is to engage with the community on other local pages. To establish your presence locally, “Like” and comment on local pages where your ideal customers are active. Some great examples of local pages to begin engaging with include:
- Local News
- City Government
- Chamber of Commerce
- Local Events
- Nearby Places
In order to Like, comment, and share on Facebook as your business, you must choose the page from the drop-down menu that appears when you select the arrow next to your picture at the top right-hand side of the post’s comment field, next to the “Like,” “Comment,” and “Share.”
The goal is for you, your business, organization or agency to become more locally relevant. This targeted exposure is best accomplished by establishing a strong local presence online in search (i.e. Google Local Business, Guides, Maps) and in social media, and by making meaningful contributions to local conversations on popular social platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Focus your marketing efforts on creating and sharing branded content that highlights/showcases local businesses, events, landmarks, and attractions. And, increase the reach of your communications by collaborating with others in your area, and by properly categorizing your posts using the appropriate hashtags.