It’s a great, big world out there, and they’re all on social. You’re a business owner or a social media manager that needs to make sure your business is getting it’s due attention. But with all the potential audience members out there, how do you go about selecting the local audience that best suits your message?
The answer is a non-trivial exercise in effort vs. effectiveness. The hours your company devotes to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and your other social niches directly reflects the value you place in those channels, but the results may not always measure up. Finding the right audience that thirsts for the message you’re delivering is critical.
The key to finding that right audience is, in my experience, about thinking of your “local audience” in terms of relationships to your company, rather than their distance from you on a map. While most local business want to find their audiences based on where they say they’re from, the truth is that nobody actually has to identify exactly where they live on any social network. If I say I’m in Nag’s Head, IN, that’s as close to the truth as you’ll ever get. And that’s if I choose to say anything about where I live at all.
Instead, I tend to visualize the relationships I can find between Twitter or Instagram users as their own type of map. From a positive discussion of my brand, for example, I can see lots of participants that might also want to hear what I have to say about what I do. It’s like a spider’s legs, stretching out in every direction from one conversation. Each “node” sprouts it’s own spider of connections and so on.
At each node, there is a local audience that may not be all that physically close to my business, but they share my business’ values. This may not seem interesting at first blush, but a conversational connection between two people may hint at a much closer connection, such as where they live. And if you can get them talking about your product, the people you want to hear will be among their friends.
So, where to start? And where to branch off? Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking.
5. Yes! Local searches
If you sell something that requires your clientele to be local – hair dressing, produce, whatever – then by all means, start with those people who tell the world where they’re from or where they are. Twitter and Facebook both allow you to search for tweets that are geotagged with your preferred location, so start there. You can also search for people whose profiles have location information, but be warned: you may need to think deeply for this. For example, you might find people who say they live in Rochester, one of our many suburbs, a zip code, or even on a specific street. Right here in Rochester, NY, we like to say we live in the #roc, which is a hashtag referring to our World Airport Code. Go figure! But when you hone in on the right terms, follow everyone! And then follow their friends.
4. Conversation crawling
This one requires a little more close-up inspection, but the results are often worth the effort. If you’ve searched your social network of choice for your brand keywords and stumbled upon a conversation, by all means, follow it up the chain. How many people commented, favourited, liked, retweeted, reshared or otherwise interacted with this conversation? Whatever their stated location, whatever their stated interests, this conversation absolutely nails them as a potential client somewhere down the line. By all means, follow everybody! Then follow their friends.
3. Topic searches
Don’t restrict yourself to searching just for your brand!! The things you sell will almost certainly be of use to people who don’t even know your company exists, so you’d better help them out. Hyper local businesses need to use some caution, and restrict their searches to a geographic location. Or if there’s something like a jersey for a local sports team you sell, why aren’t you searching for that team’s name online to find customers who want those jerseys? Follow them! Follow their friends!
2. Follow the content
You’ve got great content. You share interesting stuff. And people are interested. Who better to follow than the people who interacted with your own content? I can’t imagine. Go follow your content as it gets shared! There are tools out there that will give you better insight as to where your content went once it’s been shared. Find them and use them. Follow everybody. And yes, their friends.
1. Follow the news in your market
People never really dig getting advertised too. It’s the reason that web-based television viewing has skyrocketed over the last few years, more than any other. But we’re OK with being talked too by brands that are willing to be part of the conversation. We even love it, when it’s done right. Oreo’s epic-winning Superbowl Blackout tweet was a case where a brand both added to the conversation and put brand first at the same time. Your brand can be relevant, too. It can engage debate. It can provide food for thought. It can add a bit of comic relief. But whatever your brand has to offer the party, make sure you bring it to where the party is.
Following these tips will help you not only find the audience you’re looking for, but maybe even find the voice your audience wants to hear. The better prepared you are to speak to them, the better off you are to sell to them. Happy conversing!
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