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Real Life Examples: Local Social Media Marketing in Action

Ways You Can Utilize Social Networks for Your Own Business ... and it's FREE!

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I’m not going to wax philosophical about social media marketing. I’m not going to tell you that you should be using social media or that you shouldn’t. I’m just going to show you some examples of how local  businesses in the hometown of WebProNews – Lexington, Kentucky -  are utilizing it. It is up to you to find parallels between what these businesses are doing and strategies that you could be implementing within your own marketing efforts.

Making Customers Aware of Your Presence

Researching this article, right off the bat it was pretty evident that many businesses around here (and I suspect most places) are slow to adopt social media marketing practices for their businesses. And if they are adopting them, there are some key elements missing. For example, many of the businesses I found on Twitter (through TwellowHood – a great way to find Twitterers by geographic location) do not have any indication of their social media presences on their sites. If they do, they are not clearly visible. One thing to keep in mind is that people still go to company websites, so if you are looking for any kind of following or customer engagement via social media, it helps if they know where to go.

One site that does do this well, however is a local radio station WUKY, which airs NPR broadcasts. You will find a section on the site’s homepage that looks like this:

WUKY - Be Sociable!

The size of this section might be a little overkill for some web designs, but it clearly points to where it wants you to go, and that is the main purpose. Basically what you want to take away from this is that they are prominently listing the social networks with which customers/fans can interact with them, and they do so by using recognizable logos that stand out. Someone going to this page wondering if they can follow WUKY on Twitter or if the station has a Facebook page has their answers quickly when they notice the familiar logos.

You can still make your social presence clear without logos. For example, Liquor Barn a chain with locations throughout the state, has a simple link to its Twitter page, but it is listed within the site’s main navigation column, just under a link to the company blog.

How Businesses are Using Twitter

The greatest thing about Twitter as a marketing tool is that it is 100% opt-in, and your messages are clearly targeted toward interested parties. For example, when I choose to follow Liquor Barn’s tweets, it’s because I am interested in what promotions, new items, etc. the stores are offering.

Liquor Barn Tweets

Let’s not forget about the human element, which applies not only to Twitter, but to social networks in general. This is what social media marketing enthusiasts have been saying for quite some time, but conversation and participation is very important. People like businesses when they feel like they know the people behind them. Talk about real stuff from time to time.

Shaun Ring One way businesses can incorporate the human element into their Twitter lives is to organize or simply attend "Tweetups." This is where you get together with fellow Twitterers and meet in person. While I have personally never participated in one, I hear some of them turn into pretty fun parties. A local photographer Shaun Ring talks about attending a recent Tweetup on his blog. " I’ve been to my fair share of social events, but this might just have felt the most natural.  Authentic.  Relevant," he says. "If you’re not on Twitter yet, you might want to give it a shot.  I met a ton of cool like-minded people tonight that I wouldn’t have met otherwise using Facebook (which I still love, btw)."

See how the top bransd on Twitter are using the service.

Sidenote: Tweetups are a great example of ways to bring your online and offline marketing efforts together. This is a subject that Ryan Gibson of The Rimm-Kaufman Group discusses in the following exclusive interview with WebProNews:

How Businesses are Using Facebook

Businesses have a variety of options when it comes to Facebook. There is much more breathing room for content than with the 140 character limit of a Tweet. If you set up a business page you can include photos, videos event listings, etc. A local Holiday Inn Express shows product photos as well as photos of the actual location:

Holiday Inn Express on Facebook

A video section would be nice as another local business – Zoombug Photos, includes (although having more than one video could make it more interesting):

Zoombug on Facebook

Lexington KY Punk and Hardcore Shows has event listings (again, more than one would be more useful, but you get the idea):

Lexington Punk and Hardcore on Facebook

Businesses don’t necessarily have to rely on business pages though. Papa John’s Lexington for example has a regular Facebook profile. The profile is not great for customers looking for location/contact info, but it has 329 friends, so perhaps there is something to be said for that. That’s not too shabby for just the Lexington-based incarnation of a national Pizza chain. Using the regular profile, again injects some of that human element.

Papa John's on Facebook

For a more in-depth case study at how one local business has benefited simply from Facebook discussion, check out Jason Miller’s article on Al’s Bar here in Lexington.

How Businesses are Using YouTube

Add to iGoogle When it comes to using video in social media, the most obvious choice is YouTube. One aspect of this that is not mentioned enough is the inclusion of the "add to iGoogle" button on YouTube Channels. How many people do you think have iGoogle set as their homepage? I don’t have a number for you, but I can pretty much guarantee that it is a lot. If you set up a YouTube channel for your business, that feature alone can open up the opportunity for you to get your videos right on customers’ homepages – the first page they see when they open their browser.

I’m not going to get into all of the possibilities for what to include in your videos, but the local Ronald McDonald House has a good idea with a "YouTube Testimonials" link on its homepage, linking to its YouTube channel.

Ronald McDonald House uses YouTube Testimonials

By All Means, Don’t Stop With These

The options are certainly not limited to the social networks discussed in this article. These are some of the most popular ones, and I think you can use ideas touched upon here and integrate them with other networks. I will however also mention MySpace, because despite the media’s love affair with the above-mentioned services, there are still a lot of people using MySpace.Its features like bulletins and blogs can be great for keeping interested customers up to date. Please feel free to discuss ways to use any of the networks mentioned in this article, or others that were not mentioned, to enhance your marketing efforts.

Real Life Examples: Local Social Media Marketing in Action
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  • http://ZeroToSixtyMarketing.com Susan Hamilton

    Loved this article, Chris. I’m a small business advocate for local markets and totally agree that more could be done. I think it’s exciting to see the local marketing strategies change, especially now. Local businesses relying too heavily on past reputation need to adopt social media strategies for every reason you described above so basically, even without voicing your opinion! Thanks much.

    • Chris Crum

      Thanks Susan. There is a whole lot of opportunity out there with no-cost media that is widely used by many target audiences. Integration will only continue to grow as time progresses.

  • http://ChurchMarketingOnline.com Church Marketing Online

    Chris, thanks for writing this article. It’s interesting to see how local organizations are using social media for marketing.

    If I could play devil’s advocate for a moment, though…

    I read articles all the time about how organizations should be using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. And for the post part I also encourage local organizations to use social media. But just because a company has a Facebook page or Twitters doesn’t mean that it’s helping their business. What I would really like to read more about is whether or not these social media efforts are actually working and how they know.

    - Paul

    • Chris Crum

      It’s a very good point. There are plenty of variables that factor into whether or not social media marketing efforts will help any given businesses. I think it helps to evaluate your goals.

    • http://www.InspirationPublications.com Vivian

      How do you know it’s working? Good question, and here are 3 easy answers:

      1) Many hosting companies show tracking results–such as how many hits your web site gets per day. Hostgator does this. However, if your web site doesn’t, you can purchase inexpensive tracking tools that will.

      2) The hosting company or tool will also show you how many backlinks you are getting to your site, and where the links are coming from! For example, they will tell you if the links are coming from Twitter or Facebook.

      3) If your site also promotes products via affiliate links, then sales should improve on those items. Affiliate sales are easily tracked by the company, such as ClickBank.

      Hope this helps!

      Vivian

  • http://alicespringsfriends.ning.com Robin

    Chris

    This is a great article that I have referenced on my new regional social network site called Alice Springs Friends.

    I’m sure some of our business readers will get great benefit from it.

    Regards

    Robin Henry

    • Chris Crum

      Thanks for the mention Robin. Maybe spreading around specific examples will help some people get some ideas of their own.

  • http://www.RockstarDigitalMedia.com Matthew Lee

    Chris…Very Well thought out article, that’s right on the money. I can tell you from experience that most small business either don’t utilize social media marketing at all or use it the wrong way completely. One of the unfortunate things we find all of the time in our consulting with small businesses is that most small business owners don’t know how the Internet works, most don’t even have a website. They look at the Internet like it’s this giant black hole in a computer somewhere and don’t understand how it can be used to grow their business. When we explain how the power of Internet and social media marketing can actually increase the flow of potential customers when done right…we see lots of smiles.

    • Chris Crum

      Since I’ve been writing for WPN and particularly SmallBusinessNewz, I have really come to discover just how neglected the web (let alone social media) really is by businesses. It’s pretty incredible considering the amount of marketing opportunities.

    • http://www.roomfurniturechina.com wholesale bedroom furniture

      I think it’s quite clear Obama’s outfit is a lot more computer savvy than Bush’s team. Certainly they have been working a lot with SEO to get the good results on top – and the Bush following hasn’t even had a clue that they should try to get their own positive stuff on top of and above the material their political opponents publish.

  • Guest

    the best site for local social media promotions is http://streetmavens.com it organizes all of the posts by city. its really cool!

  • http://www.bmlee.com Brian

    Great article.
    This article show me the way how small business can use social media as a online marketing tool.
    Thanks.

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