Its been said many times and will probably be said many more. The easiest way to support local businesses, business that we need to actually care about because they support the local economy with jobs and income circulation is as simple as engagement in their social media.
I’ve been testing social media (which I include Linkedin, in), for a while now and I get it, it’s social! (It’s not really business, unless you want to call it social business!) But it’s also the way that 99% of businesses attempt to promote and market their business, for free!
In short, the way Facebook in particular control what gets posted makes it almost impossible to get any post seen, even if you pay for it and forget having control of where it goes. It’s all based around their engagement algorithm, that theoretically pushes more posts to you, if your interested or have engaged with it. If not, you’ll see it less.
There are a couple of ways to get a slightly better result, but all of which at some point, get re-controlled by Facebook again anyway, just so it forces businesses to pay more. So the more you spend, maybe the more it works!
I have about 30 different pages that I play around with. About 15 business pages and 15 personal interest. I’ve also tried sharing the pages, rather than just posting on my pages and posting into other groups. It’s an easy way to get further reach and an increase in engagement, but recently Facebook have appeared to make that a little harder than it was a week ago. Anyway, there are ways, albeit slower, around that.
I’ve also noticed that if there’s genuine interest, you get serious engagement, comment, discussion, people actually wanting to know more. As some people might know, I’ve been playing guitar for around 40 years and have a bit of a guitar collection, so recently I’ve been posting things about some of my gear to see what would happen and the results have been unbelievable. Here’s a comparison.
If I post something business related that has genuine real benefit in giving a business real tips that could help that business, even if I share it with 20 business groups that have thousands in each group, I’m lucky if the reach gets to 500 and virtually zero engagement other than the odd like and I mean odd like of the image I might use. (Add to that the restrictions on many businesses groups that don’t want certain business promoting certain things!)
The picture of the guitar I posted, then shared with 10 groups, is still growing, but currently has had a reach of 10,000, 700 engagements, with about 80 long, and interesting comments and discussion. Here’s the point, it’s just a guitar! (It could have been a picture of an ugly cat and it would have been the same. Social!)
When you understand whats actually possible with social media, it’s very easy to get frustrated with it, to the point that I believe, and in particular with the increase in social media posts and usage over the last two months, that’s apparently gone up 50% to what it was 8 weeks ago, it makes you realise it’s almost impossible to break through, unless you can encourage engagement.
So back to where we were at the start of this. Engagement is the solution, but what was the problem. Local business support, is the problem! Marketing in general has got harder and harder, if not impossible to make work, because if the reliance on social media to be able to do it without spending anything and that just can’t be done. But there is a half way solution and that’s engagement, but it’s also not just about social media engagement. It’s about engagement in general, refer, tell others and generally promote local businesses to other potential clients, that might need them and we think they’re worth promoting and supporting.
Exposure to media, advertising and messaging is going up at a staggering rate and it’s not likely to slow anytime soon. Add to that, the other marketing arms of social media with Utube, Instagram, Pinterest and even Snapchat, you’ve got an incredibly busy landscape. Some groups that I’ve joined, have posts in the thousands per day. (Yes per day)
So how do we make advertising businesses work, and what do you have to do to stand out?
- 1: Pay for it and probably pay a lot for it! And there’s no guarantees.
- 2: Make more noise than anyone else. Post more, somethings got to be seen at some point.
- 3: Do what the others don’t do. If you believe what the video guys tell you??? that within the next few years, 80% of posts will be video. Most people don’t watch the videos now. And if I see one more narcissistic blogger driving around in their convertible while trying to tell me how to do something I’ll……
- Or you could get behind engagement. Good old fashioned support your local businesses by actually telling people about the great pizza you had over the weekend (if it was in fact a great pizza), or whatever. We’ve stopped doing that.
The company I used to be in, Bartercard, had its own built in support system. If you wanted to use the system, but also support the system, you’d tell someone about a business that was a member of Bartercard. How good would that be if you had a list of businesses that you worked with, but also told others about? That would be unusual right?
The truth is we’ve gone a strange way in finding out what businesses to use. Recommendations on social media, is the way so many people, post something and ask complete strangers who they would use, rather than ask your butcher, or mechanic, or florist or your accountant, or friend (someone you might trust) because we’ve lost the habit of asking, (because social media is easier) but we’ve also stopped telling. If they’re great, tell someone, if they’re not, tell them too.
The problem in marketing and promoting your business isn’t going to get easier any time soon, but it is possible to start the process. Engagement is the easiest, simplest, quickest and possibly one of the most effective ways to help support local business, regardless of what they do and there’s never been a more important time to do that. Just engage.