Small local businesses can see big gains by leveraging social media tricks. Here are a few good examples.
How often do you find yourself salivating over splashy, big brand (and often big-budget) social media campaigns?
You may wish you could get same kind of results for your smaller, localized business--but don't despair. With a little creativity, familiarity with the most popular social/local platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare and Pinterest), and someone with the time and energy, you can execute on your great ideas.
Need some inspiration? Here are some examples of industries and companies that are doing it well.
Through Twitter I've had the pleasure of meeting and knowing Joe Heidler (@bestroofer), CEO of J.V. Heidler Company--a roofer based in Lancaster, Pa., who serves commercial and residential customers. Heidler blogs and has accounts on Facebook and LinkedIn, but he attributes most of his success with social media to Twitter.
I had Joe join me on a panel about small businesses using Twitter. Here are a few of the ways he says he uses the social media service:
- Using Twitter Search to find new business opportunities
- Tweeting to generate new inbound business opportunities
- Communicating directly with customers
- Promoting blog posts and sharing relevant information
- Positioning himself as a subject matter expert
- Generating free publicity
- Receiving unsolicited recommendations and opportunities from Twitter friends
Food & Restaurants
You're probably already familiar with the way peripatetic food trucks have made Twitter an indispensable tool, but other local food businesses have gotten in on the social media act as well.
Smashburger, a Denver-based hamburger chain, for example, has grown from three locations to more than 150 nationwide--propelled in part by its social media-driven promotions and outreach, according to USA Today.
Physicians & Veterinarians
Most health-care providers truly are local businesses, but many haven't quite mastered the art of marketing. Some, however, have begun to embrace social media to help build awareness and attract patients.
CosmeticSurg, a Baltimore-based plastic surgeon, uses a wide swath of social media tools, from blogging to Twitter and Facebook to video hosting site Vimeo. The office is even now hosting virtual consultations with prospective patients.
Or take another example, from a different type of health care: Palm City, Fla., equine dentist Geoff Tucker has found success building much-needed relationships and awareness through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and his blog. He has also appeared on targeted online programs such as Horse Talk Radio and HorseGirl.tv, according to Mashable.
Even livestock shows in Texas have gotten on the social media bandwagon. The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo show, as featured on this NBC-TV affiliate station video story, explains how it used Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Foursquare to attract attendees and keep them informed about the daily events.
So too, Baltimore's Star-Spangled Sailabration, happening this weekend to commemorate the bicentennial celebration of the start of the War of 1812 and the composing of The Star-Spangled Banner, works the social media angle. They have a Twitter account (@starspangled200) and event hashtag (#ssb2012), a Facebook page and a YouTube channel.
My own agency is an example here: As a digital marketing agency, we joined a "bragging rights" social media contest because we wanted to accomplish a few things: to maintain our positioning as social media experts in our region; to help build brand awareness; and to use the challenge to attract more social media followers (which in turn amplifies the reach we have with our own marketing messages).
What we launched was a contest of our own, with an an iPad giveaway tied into a donation to One Laptop, One Child. Here's how it works: Come to our landing page, follow the instructions on how to vote, and in so doing, get entered to win an iPad. As Web Ad.vantage advances through each bracket toward the finals, it will donate $500 to One Laptop, One Child for a maximum donation of $6,000. We're tweeting it, promoting it on Facebook and LinkedIn ... and, of course, I'm writing about it here. Won't you give us your vote?
Meanwhile: If you have your own local-social success story to tell, please share it below--and keep the list going.
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