I’ve had several discussions recently about Facebook and its effectiveness as a marketing tool for local businesses. It reminded me of this blog from Forrester Research that described strategies for local marketers now that Facebook was killing organic reach. One suggestion was to “add social relationship tools to your own site.” This is a great idea, but it doesn’t scale well for hyperlocal businesses – after all, how likely is it that you have a product or service that will generate a consistent and loyal following that will engage every day like they seem to do on Facebook?
However, there very likely is a place locally where daily engagement occurs and where social relationship tools could make a very big impact on their ability to more deeply engage and provide discovery tools for local businesses – the hyperlocal digital publisher. These sites have a loyal and demographically desirable reader base for local businesses. They also have great local authority with search engines. Here’s three reasons why these sites should be an important part of your hyperlocal engagement strategy:
- There’s no better way to reach a higher percentage of people that you want to touch – If you recall from last week, we talked about ways to touch your current and potential customers more often. If your customer base is made up of people in your own community, there is no more focused place than hyperlocal destinations. But you have to do more than just advertise on those sites! Again, an ad is great but it’s just a single “touch”, and the likelihood of that one touch making an impact is very low by itself. But that one touch in addition to active engagement on the hyperlocal site dramatically increases your chances of being noticed.
- It’s your most effective “Citation” strategy – We’ve also blogged about the importance of keeping your Name/Address/Phone (NAP) info consistent on directory sites. It makes sense that the most local sites to you should be ones where you have this NAP info displayed, doesn’t it? Being listed on a national directory is important too, but how many people using that national directory are interested in your specific community? An up-to-date listing on a directory that is focused on your local community will certainly be more impactful. It’s shocking to me how many people have incorrect NAP information surfaced on hyperlocal sites. This should be Step 1 in your citation effort (actually, Step 2, right after you get listed on Google My Business).
- You have more influence – I hear many stories of small businesses that complain that they can’t get anybody from Google, Yahoo, Yelp or other global sites to return their calls or emails. It’s frustrating getting them to remove spammy reviews or to fix problems with your listings, especially if there are duplicates! But your local publisher is somebody you know, a physical presence you can speak with and influence. The biggest value of hyperlocal is the intimacy and personal attention – it’s what separates the small business owner from the big box retailer, and it’s what separates the hyperlocal publisher from the national directories and platforms.
Hyperlocal publishers give you the ability to be a “big fish in a small pond.” Facebook and other social platforms are certainly powerful and there’s a lot of great reasons to use them as a part of your marketing effort. But remember this analogy the next time you think about focusing solely on Facebook:
- A Facebook organic post is like screaming out your post in the middle of a sold out Mets game at Citi Field (yes, it would have to be a day when Matt Harvey is pitching 🙂 )
- A Facebook boosted post is like having somebody grab all the people at that Mets game who fit the demographic you want to reach sitting in your section of the ball park. You are still screaming and they are still distracted, but at least the people who can hear you are the people you want to reach
- Engagement on a hyperlocal site is like being at a local baseball game in your town with 50 other folks, where you could (if you want) scream out to all of them, OR speak one on one with each of them before the game is over.
The most effective small business owners know that targeting is one of the most important marketing strategies. Anything that can get the attention of a highly qualified group of potential customers should be a top priority, and doing it on a public forum where everybody can see is even better. Your hyperlocal publisher gives you the best of both these worlds. Even Facebook doesn’t give you a forum where everyone can see you – only those in your “network.” There is no single perfect platform to reach everyone you want, but one of your best options is your hyperlocal publisher. They have the highest percentage of potential customers right there, waiting to hear from you. You will find them to be the most effective hyperlocal marketing strategy!