Rural businesses often struggle to publicise their business, as the general footfall or visibility of a high street or industrial estate location simply does not exist.
This blog was originally written as a guest blog for Marketing by Minal
But you have a website, right?
If you have Google Analytics, which any self-respecting website should have, you might see that your site might not get enough traffic to engage your customers with your business.
Social Media to the rescue!
To help you, I’ve put my Thinking Hat on and come up with 10 tips, which should be of great help to get to grips with the key elements of good social media!
1. Claim your business on Google and explore Google My Business
When your potential customers search on the internet, they usually receive results based on their location. These local search results are so important for rural businesses, not only helping you to be found, but also allowing customers to review your business. Google My Business makes it easier for customers to find information about your business online, including opening hours, contact information and directions – and across multiple devices.
2. Pick the right platform(s) for your business and don’t spread yourself too thin
Facebook and Twitter are certainly the ‘go to’ places for your business to get the right visibility. You can find great rural communities on Facebook and Twitter to interact with and target, too!
Setting up a professional Facebook Business page is easy. Facebook guides you through it. And keep it professional with only a few personal bits thrown in and make sure that personal posts relate to your business!
3. Post consistently to help your visibility
Post regularly and at times your target audience is likely to be online. (Mothers having picked up children, lunch breaks, post evening meal, journey home on train or public transport)
Facebook 1-2 posts per dayTwitter 3-5 tweets per dayLinkedIn 1 post per dayInstagram 1-2 posts per day
And keep it up!
4. Concentrate on content that grabs attention
Make sure you adjust your content to the relevant platform! Facebook does not really do hashtags and you have more space to spread your message. Really look at what works on each network and develop content specifically for that network.
5. Add value to your audience
Social Media is not about sell, sell, sell!
Imagine yourself as a customer of your business. What would you like to see from a business such as yours to capture your interest? Don’t panic about creating lots of content. You can always share things you’ve found online that are relevant to your business. Just make sure you give the original author credit!
6. Use scheduling tools provided free of charge by Twitter and Facebook
Rural businesses often struggle with broadband connection. This is where scheduling comes in. Using scheduling tools will help you get your posts lined up in advance, making the most of the times your internet connection is at its optimum.
Both Facebook and Twitter have their own scheduling tools. With Facebook, you can schedule posts right from your page by choosing when and what time they are published.
Twitter has its own platform called TweetDeck, which you can use to schedule your Tweets. Of course, there are many other tools out there; pick the one that suits you best.
7. Boost posts or place adverts on Facebook to ensure your business is seen
Nowadays organic Facebook reach is nearly non-existent, so you need to invest for your audience to see your business.
Check on your business page under Publishing Tools – you can see all your posts and how well they did – boost the ones, which have already a good ‘reach’, as it means Facebook likes the content.
BUT – ensure you set the right target audience! Get more bang for your buck by using Facebook’s facility to set just the right audience for your business.
It is pointless paying for UK wide placements, if your target customers are in a defined geographical area.
Yes, you may have a fabulous reach, however could they really become your customers?
8. Join local Tweetchats
Tweet chats are chats that take place on Twitter, and they really help to increase visibility and reach. Simply explore the Twitter Hours for your location, county, activity or business.
Search for them in your search window and see when it’s happening and join in!
9. Check your hashtags!
Hashtags help categorise conversations on social media. They are used predominantly on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. They are a great way to find conversations you can join, or even just to help you do some research.
Before using a popular hashtag, check out the content under it, after all, if it is being abused, as the once popular #Shoutout now is – you would not want your business associated with that tag. Great ones to use are the weekday tags, such as #MondayMotivation #TravelTuesday #WednesdayWisdom #ThursdayThoughts #HappyFriday, and so on.
Another great way to get visibility for your business is to create a brand hashtag. This is particular to your business and you would use it when sharing your own content. It’s a great way to check how far your content travels.
10. Include links and/or images and videos in your posts
We all have short attention spans, so think about including images or videos with your posts. What would make your audience stop and read your post?
Not only does your content become more visible, your audience has something to interact with, which helps to increase the organic reach of the post.
Use links to content on your website or links to content of other pages, which is relevant to your business.
Post short videos of your business activities or even create one with the help of Facebook, by uploading up to 10 relevant images and letting them create it for you!
In this article, I’ve focused on Facebook and Twitter. There are, of course other social media platforms you can use, such as Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and so on.
Work out if your audience uses these before you dive into using them for your business. As a guide, here’s how they generally break down:
Instagram has a younger audience and is highly visual, so if you are an interior designer, cake creator, or photographer, this is a platform you should add to your social media schedule.
Pinterest is also a highly visual platform and often used to gather ideas and mood boards. It’s perfect for a rural business in the wedding industry. Many brides-to-be plan their weddings using Pinterest.
LinkedIn is very much a professional Business to Business platform; however, many businesses are seeing the potential to network using LinkedIn.
Whichever network you choose, remember to take a structured approach and create a plan that will help you achieve the results you want.