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A Guide to Building a Local Social Media Presence from Scratch

You're on Facebook, you know social media is here to stay but you need help getting your business started with social media and directory listings.
First Things First

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To make this guide as useful as possible we start with a couple ground rules and assumptions. 

First, within this guide we'll briefly address both social media platforms and directory listings. Directory listings on sites like Yelp, Houzz, ZocDoc and others are not technically social media sites however they are part of the broader online presence equation and, as such, we reference them.

Second, a social media account that is inactive is effectively worthless - in some cases worse than worthless because it makes it appear as though a live business may have folded and closed it's doors. Obviously, not ideal.

Next, this guide is meant as a starting point for businesses new to social media or those renewing their interest in social media. This is not meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive in any way.

Finally, and most importantly, if you don't have a website or your website isn't an effective anchor to your overall marketing efforts then you should probably spend more time getting that corrected before investing much effort in just about anything else. More on this below.

You'll find links to related and relevant resources peppered throughout, they will open in a new tab.

Social Media has matured as a channel over the last decade but it's still viewed as a sexy marketing channel by many business owners.

As such, we wanted to provide a step-by-step guide to building your social media presence, avoid common pitfalls, and ensure you have proper expectations.

Remember, social media is no longer a megaphone but a way to build an authentic brand.

Which Profiles Are Most Important and Why?

There's a temptation to create an account on every platform but just because you can doesn't mean you should. Social media accounts are valuable only when active so pick your battles and implement a strategy that's practical for you and your team while delivering the highest return on your effort.

Let's work smarter not harder!

Most businesses should create their Google My Business account and a Facebook Page as a starting point.
These two give you the most benefits when it comes to reaching people where they're at and improving search engine optimization. Your Google My Business profile will ensure your information is going to appear accurately on Google search results while Facebook has a massive user base that, undoubtedly, includes your target customers.

While Google has social networking features, we'll largely ignore those and simply treat it as a directory listing where customers can leave reviews.

Other social networks should be skipped until you get your foundation built on these core platforms. However, depending on your industry, it may be worth the extra effort to create listings on niche sites like Yelp, Houzz, ZocDoc, OpenTable etc. and certain B2B businesses may benefit from a LinkedIn Profile and Business Page.

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Your initial goal is to ensure consistent data and accurate citations across the internet

As such, you'll want to be sure to include the following:

  1. Name
  2. Address (if public)
  3. Phone Number
  4. Website URL
  5. Industry Categorization
  6. Hours of Operation
  7. Description of Services (be consistent if possible with the space allowed)
  8. At least a few photos of your company, teams, products/services etc
It's important that this data is consistent from platform to platform and that it matches the data on your website.

A Couple Notes on Facebook Page Completeness

You have a "Profile" while your business or organization has a "Page"... a page can have many different people administering it but it represents an organization. Learn about Page Roles here.

This bears repeating, make sure your website is included on your Facebook page and that your descriptions (About, services etc) match what's listed on your website. 

When business information is inconsistent it looks bad and hurts you with Google. Plus, it means you literally rewrote content about your business and that's just a waste of time.

You'll also want to be sure and complete the following steps before you mark "Setup Facebook Page" complete:

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Actively Managing Your Facebook Page

Unlike your Google My Business account, your Facebook page has very little value if you're not posting or sharing content.

This may sound daunting but it should be fun and easy.

One quick note, while the vast majority of your interactions with people will happen on their newsfeed, people will likely visit your page to "Like" it and follow you and you want that to be a positive, professional impression.

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Types of Page Content on Facebook

Content will be comprised of 3 basic types:

  1. Sharing Content to Facebook
  2. Reshares & Quick-Hitters
  3. Facebook Live Video

1. Sharing Content to Facebook

Some content you'll share to Facebook from your blog while others you'll post directly, you can read about when to do each here

Creating content can sound complicated and time-consuming but there are many types of effective content you can quickly create.

Remember, content you create on your "blog" has many benefits: it's great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), sharing on your email newsletter, sharing by you OR website visitors to social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc), it acts as a sort of "living portfolio" and thus it's valuable to website visitors regardless of where they come from. One piece of content has many benefits.

Visiting with members of the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce who are investing in relationships as well as learning...

Posted by Locable on Wednesday, June 14, 2017

2. Reshares and Quick-Hitters

Content reshares are things you'll share from other pages, could be friendly businesses or clients, the local chamber, a nonprofit you support etc. This content is often community oriented and a form of curation that shows people more of "who" you are.

You'll get more mileage out of posts that are already getting high engagement - likes, shares, comments etc - and it's a quick way to have more to relevant content share with your audience.

Quick-Hitters on the other hand are original content pieces but tend to be less substantial i.e. not worthy of living on your own website. Often these may be fun pictures with simple captions that may get a quick reaction from your fans but don't warrant deeper thought.

These give you an opportunity to engage other pages or people on Facebook, as you can see in the example from our page, and they work to keep your page lively and fresh.

3. Facebook Live Video

Facebook Live Video runs natively on Facebook and starts with a live broadcast, though you can embed it on your website after the fact if you'd like (like we've done here). This is a great way to get significantly more organic reach which can help you build your fanbase and brand.

These live videos are great ways to communicate your brand values and personality even if they're not directly related to your products or services.

Growing Your Fanbase & Best Practice

There are many facets to growing your fanbase and it's important to note that just because someone likes your page doesn't mean they see your posts. Producing consistently relevant and engaging content maximizes your likelihood of reaching your fans, their friends, and other locals.

Don't forget these best-practices:

Incorporate "Ego Bait" content and be sure to tag related people and pages in your post.

Don't rapid fire your shares, schedule Facebook posts out at least 3-4 hours apart. You'll reach more people plus your fans don't really want to hear from you that often.

Avoid flushing money down the drain, know when to boost posts and what to expect and remember to test different target audiences, post types and durations.

Would you like a hand setting up your presence or help crafting a marketing plan that includes a review of your current activities?

Contact Us Today

It's Important to Understand What You're Building Toward

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There are businesses that have focused their entire marketing efforts on Facebook and their Facebook Page. This is extremely risky and never recommended.

First, if you only post to Facebook then you're missing out on significant SEO benefits and you have no control over the actual brand aesthetics in addition to the other benefits of content we mentioned above.

Perhaps most importantly, and as the graphic from Content Marketing Institute demonstrates, when you build your Facebook fan base you're simply renting an audience and you have no control or influence over how to utilize that audience in the future.

Facebook has continually adjusted their "algorithm" which dictates who-sees-what on their platform, consistently reducing organic (free) reach in the process. As such, a fan today is worth less than it was a few years ago.

In fact, the average page post reaches just 2.6% of fans, while smaller pages tend to perform higher the averages are still bleak.  

Moreover, 40% of people report that they don't follow brand pages on Facebook and many don't pay attention to those they do follow which means compelling content is the key to getting value out of Facebook.

There are definitely exceptions to this rule and we wouldn't have created this guide if Facebook wasn't a valuable channel for local businesses however, as Henry Blodget once quipped:
Social networking advertising is like hanging signs on the walls of a house during a party and sending sales reps to mingle with the crowd... the people at the party, who are sharing stories and photos and news and gossip, are not at the party because they want to buy something...they want to socialize.

The Original Social Network - Your Real-World Local Network

Amidst the never ending onslaught of shiny objects (new social networking platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and the like) a nearly untapped opportunities exists for local businesses to more fully leverage their existing social network of relationships.

Part of your social media efforts should be put toward unleashing the power of your connections to increase your reach and generate more local awareness. From online referral network, to chamber membership or your community involvement with charities or nonprofits, highlighting these authentic relationships can be valuable for you and them.

Locable's Local Connections tools are Free Referral, Endorsement and Local Recognition Tools for Local Businesses, Nonprofits and Causes. Best of all, the same content you create for social media can be used here - automatically!

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