More and more consumers are “buying local” now, which means small businesses have to bring their A-Game.  Why do consumers enjoy buying local?

I like to think it’s because people appreciate the quality of the product and services. Why spend fifteen dollars on a crappy pasta dish from a chain restaurant, when you could spend fifteen dollars on a homemade pasta dish from the mom and pop Italian eatery down the road? For some it’s not just the products and services, it’s the relationships they form with the business owners and employees. Local businesses are more accountable to their own communities.

So here you have this great little hole in the wall business providing great products and services, how do people find out about it? Every single small business owner I speak to tells me they get the majority of their business from word of mouth.

Okay, so let’s review. We have established several points.

  • –   People are buying local more frequently
  • –   Consumers like the quality of the products and the personable service, aka relationship
  • –   People find out about small local businesses through word of mouth

This means there’s more competition amongst local businesses, a need for businesses to be consistent with their products and service and a way to keep the relationship going while maintaining strong word of mouth. So what does this have to do with social media?

Social media is online word of mouth.

The internet is a powerful thing. Instead of one person telling two friends about their favorite business/service/product/event, now a person can literally tell hundreds, even thousands of people online. It’s as simple as that.

Social media is all about relationship building.

People aren’t using Facebook and Twitter to connect with just their friends anymore. People are now using it to meet new people with similar interests, as well as brands and businesses. One of the TOP reasons people like brands on Facebook is because they are already a customer. Using social media to build relationships with your current customers takes time, but is extremely rewarding. What does “building relationships” entail?

  • –   Providing them with helpful and/or exclusive information. Keeping it relevant to your business will position you as the expert in your area.
  • –   Offering exclusive specials. This will make them feel appreciated as a customer – imagine that!
  • –   Chatting with them about themselves. People love talking about themselves – when you ask them a question or for their opinion, they are likely to see your business as not just a business, but as someone who cares.

Once you form a strong relationship with your current customers, it is likely that they will pass the word on about your business to their friends. And even if they don’t pass the word on, it is likely that their friends will see the frequent interaction between their friend and your business on the Facebook and Twitter feed. Surprisingly, 6.2% of people like a page because their friends like the page. That’s impressive considering these people probably have had no previous ties to the business.

Social media gives you a means to promote your unique products, events, and services.

Once you establish relationships with your customers, it’s time to educate them about new products, events, and services. But, it’s important to promote your content in an exciting and interesting way. Why is this? 5% of people said the top reason they like a brand on Facebook to hear more about their service and products, while 18% of people said the top reason they like a brand on Facebook for interesting and engaging content. Can you find a way to promote your products, events and services in an interesting and engaging way? If you can’t, you will lose the attention of your fans.

These are some simple, obvious reasons why social media marketing is beneficial to small businesses. There are so many other reasons why social media marketing is effective for small businesses, including the major reason: it puts your business on the same competitive level as the big corporations, without having to fork over the hundreds of thousands of dollars. So consider allocating your marketing budget towards social media marketing – you may be surprised at the results.

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