Using Social Media to Reach a Local Audience

Typically, when the average user thinks about social media, the first sites that come to mind are Facebook and Twitter. These sites have formidable global reach and can help reach audiences from Asia to Europe. However, when it comes to reaching a local or regional audience, are these sites still as effective?

This is a key question for firms that operate in a niche industry or cater to a specific geographical region that requires a more tailored approach. As businesses contemplate investments in this new(er) media, here are 4 tips, for small and large companies alike, on using social media to reach as well as engage with a local audience.

#1 Create Location-Specific Social Communties:

Setting up a generic social media presence that appeals to a global audience but ignores your local customer base is a wasteful exercise. There are plenty of options that businesses can use to create social experiences that resonate with their local audience. Whether it’s through a location-specific Linkedin group or a regional Facebook page, it is possible to carve out highly engaging location-specific social presence on any social network. Moreover, sites like Linkedin enable highly targeted advertising based on location, which can be leveraged to reach your local audience.

#2 Leverage Existing Channels:

In their enthusiasm to use social media, many businesses forget to leverage the information that’s available, right at their finger tips. Unless your business was set up yesterday, your company already has a customer database that can be used to jump-start your social media community. Leveraging traditional channels like email and direct mail lists can be a smart and (cost)effective way of building your social media presence. And don’t just stop there! Make it easy for your customers to join/follow you on a social network by integrating social media links into all your traditional marketing channels to make the most out of every touch point with the customer, whether it’s through traditional or new media.

#3 Promote! Promote! Promote!

One thing to keep in mind when building your social media presence is that, “Just because you built it, they will not come!” …unless, of course you promote (the heck out of) it. Many businesses set up their social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook, but they forget the basics, which is to tell their customers and prospects about it. If your audience is small and local, it is very likely that your presence on a larger social network will go unnoticed, unless you make a great deal of noise about it and that’s where #2 can be very effective in getting the word out. Local events that bring your online and offline community together such as Tweetups can be a very effective way of growing the online social engagement for a local audience.

#4 Try Location-Based Services:

With the growing popularity of  geo-location services and applications like Foursquare, GoWalla, and white-label apps like DoubleDutch, going local has never been easier. These services now enable you to build social networks for specific states, cities, and even neighborhoods. However, your audience may not be adept at using some of these new technologies so, businesses may need to help them along with some education and plenty of incentives to keep them engaged.

As you can see, the “one-size-fits-all” social media model is evolving and making way for highly localized experiences. The key is for businesses to stay focused on their target audience and optimize their social media presence to make it more relevant for their customer, based on where he or she is located.