A Quick Start Guide to Social Media for Local Businesses

Connecting with offline customers through social media is fast becoming a priority for many local businesses. According to AXA, 25% of shoppers know the name of the staff at their local convenience store, and it’s this personal connection that is one of the main drivers for consumers choosing to shop at local retailers. It is, therefore, the next natural step for local businesses to continue the conversation with their customers online, too.  

3 reasons to start using social media

1. To influence purchasing decisions

According to Sprout Social, 47% of millennials say their purchase decisions are influenced by social media, so utilising social channels wisely could not only help to strengthen the personal connection between a retailer and its customers: it could also help to boost sales.

2. Offer excellent customer care

Social media helps you directly communicate with existing and potential new customers, which can lead to increased footfall in-store. Social media is increasingly becoming the go-to channel for customer service enquiries too, with Twitter seeing a 250% increase in customer service related interactions in the last two years. This instant form of communication gives businesses the opportunity to reply quickly and efficiently - thus providing a positive customer experience.  

3. Communicate with your customers

Another benefit to using social media is the ability to join in wider local conversations to further get your business’s name out there and establish your position as a key retailer in the area. Engaging in conversation with other retailers could also be beneficial - Twitter chats such as #IndieHour provide a great platform for independents to share best practice advice and discuss top industry trends and topics.

Remember - every second there are 20,000 people on Facebook and 50% of active Twitter users willing to follow companies/brands. That’s a huge number of potential new customers to connect with!

How do I get started?

Creating a Facebook page and Instagram account or signing up to Twitter for your business is a simple process. To get the most out of your profiles, make sure to fill out as much information as possible, including your business name and your location. You should also use high-quality photographs of your store or your store’s team as the profile picture and cover/header image to add that personal touch.

There are many different benefits to choosing the right social media platform for your business. Facebook is the biggest channel with 32 million UK users, and local businesses can take advantage of Facebook’s local targeting ads to ensure posts are reaching the right audience. However, businesses can also reach that all-important local audience on Twitter and Instagram too by using location hashtags and creating Instagram stories with a location sticker.

What should I say?

Regularly posting updates is imperative to avoid a tumble-weed feed. Shout about:

  • Offers and deals

  • New products or ranges

  • Local community news

  • In-store events

  • Staff and customer stories

  • Store news

  • Competitions, both in-store and online

Keep an eye out for national days and weeks (chocolate week, as an example), and key events that attract a lot of online discussion (Halloween, Black Friday etc) and think of products or deals that could tie-in nicely. Research the most-used event hashtag and ensure to include this in related posts.

Who should I follow?

Following other social media accounts is a great way of saying hello online, and increasing your own visibility.

As well as following other local businesses in your area, try following local influencers such as news editors. Following industry influencers could also provide interesting content to share on your own channels:

  • @TheGrocer

  • @AsianTrader

  • @BetterRetailing

  • @CStoreMagazine

  • @ThisIsRN

  • @Thoughtsforhim

  • @RetailMentoring

  • @ShopLocal_

  • @ACS_LocalShops

  • … and @NisaRetail, of course!

Comment on posts you find interesting, retweet posts your followers might like and regularly monitor your feed to find golden nuggets of retail news, advice and insight that will inspire you and, ultimately, help drive sales.

How to hunt hashtags

In addition to following relevant accounts, you should also consider monitoring key industry hashtags. A hashtag is added to the front of keywords in tweets, allowing them to be categorised and searched for. This allows you to search for specific topics of interest, such as #ShopLocal or #Cstores, that may show interesting industry news.

You can also search for Twitter chat hashtags, such as #IndieHour. Users who add this hashtag to their tweets are essentially flagging their comment as part of that specific online conversation, allowing a group of people to seamlessly connect and communicate. #IndieHour runs every Tuesday between 8pm-9pm - so make sure you get in on the action!

Finally, hashtags are also a great way to jump on a trend and reach a wider audience through joining in a more widespread conversation. General hashtags such as #MondayMotivation, #ThursdayThrowback and #FridayFeeling are particularly popular, and can help you reach new users. Retail-specific hashtags include #SmallBusinessSaturday, so make sure to include these hashtags in your own tweets where relevant.

Join the #WDYT trend

#WDYT is a Government-backed campaign that provides further guides to help retailers develop a strong social media presence. It also encourages shoppers to engage with local retailers, a full-circle campaign that aims to truly connect customers with their favourite local businesses online as well as on the high street.

9 top tips to try

From knowing what to post to when to post it and where, we understand social media can be a boggling experience for any newcomer. Here are our top tips to help you become an online hero in no time:

  1. Tag relevant pages and accounts in your post

    1. If you mention another account, tag them so they can see it and possibly share it with their followers, too!

  2. Use local hashtags (i.e. #Manchester)

    1. This will help to increase visibility amongst local people searching for that specific place

  3. Post to Facebook 3-4 times a week and at least once a day on Twitter

    1. As Twitter is more fast-paced than Facebook, make sure you post slightly more frequently to make your online voice heard!

  4. Tell your in-store customers about your accounts

    1. Pop posters up in-store and advise your regular customers about your social media presence. They’ll be sure to give you a follow!

  5. Run an in-store competition and promote it online to help drive footfall

    1. If you are running an in-store promotion, make sure to let your customers know about it!

  6. Try Facebook and Twitter advertising

    1. By paying a small amount of money, you can ensure your most important and relevant posts reach a higher number of people. You can target relevant users, too, to make sure your posts are being seen by the right people (i.e. only people in your local community)

  7. Create Facebook events for in-store tasting sessions and fun days

    1. Invite your followers to a Facebook event to let them know all the information about your in-store activities. They’ll be able to RSVP, too, so you’ll have a good idea of who is planning to attend.

  8. Schedule posts for early morning and evenings

    1. More Facebook and Twitter users will be online at these times, though if you visit the ‘Insights’ section on both channels you will be able to discover more about your followers and the times they are online specifically.

  9. Use emojis to add some fun to your posts

    1. Sharing fun images and videos also helps to boost engagement

Remember, Nisa members, you can download ready-made social posts from the G&H website or sign up to our automation service so we can post on your behalf!

How can I find out more?

For Nisa Retail members, our digital marketing team are on hand to provide all the support you need. The team can create an account for you and can even set up automated social media posts so you’ll never have to worry about what to post. Members also have access to regular webinars and expert support.

Say hello by visiting @NisaRetail on Twitter - we’d be happy to help answer any queries you may have.

If you’re a Nisa member and would like to enquire about automation services or further information, please contact social.media@nisaretail.com.

Want a quick reference guide to print out and share? Download our Social Media Guide PDF.

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