The average person will scroll through an incredible 90 metres of content on Facebook every day. That’s the equivalent to the height of Big Ben’s Elizabeth Tower. In just 15 years, social media has evolved into the primary way in which we engage with one another. As we have become accustomed to interacting with our friends in this way, so too have we come to expect to interact with brands through these platforms.
The importance of interaction is something being realised by many of the businesses I work with. Social media cannot be treated as a marketing channel, like a magazine or a radio advert. The people who use it, the people who are and could be your customers, use social media to socialise, interact and develop relationships. The businesses that thrive online are the ones who lean into this.
There are many ways you can achieve this. You could show your face in video content, showing customers what specials you have. You could share important announcements from your local area, like offers at the local restaurant, or details about the upcoming school fête. The key thing is to demonstrate that you are part of the community.
However, how do you even get people looking at your content and following your pages to begin with? Some experts will tell you that you need to invest in paid ads, and ads can indeed be incredibly powerful tools. Facebook allows you to target by postcode area, meaning you can show your ad exclusively to the people who make up your local community. And this can be done with a budget of as little as £3 per day.
But if that’s not for you, there are alternatives that cost nothing but a bit of time.
On Facebook there are groups for most towns, estates and local areas. Many groups will permit businesses to promote themselves (though sometimes only at specific times of the week) and can be a brilliant opportunity for you to get to know people in your area. Don’t just post in these groups, keep an eye out for requests for help from others in there – you never know what opportunities await.
If you’re on Instagram, then make use of the location tags feature. This allows you to not only tag your own content, but also see posts from other people in your local area. Search your location on a regular basis, see what’s being posted by other users, and take the time to like, comment and interact with these posts. It lets people know you exist, and that curiosity will turn into followers for your channels.
Social media is about communities and conversations. This is a brilliant opportunity for local businesses, and it doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. By being proactive, seeking out your local networks and interacting with what you see, people will be drawn to your business, and your social media profiles will prosper.
David Glenwright is social media specialist and consultant, and head of training & special projects at JC Social Media. He is also one of a handful of trainers in the UK accredited by Facebook as part of their #SheMeansBusiness programme to support small businesses.