Business articles everywhere are emphasizing the importance of having a strong online presence. While it is important to optimize your website, social sites and blog using local SEO tactics so you can be found in local searches, there are some things you can do offline to grow your online presence. You have to establish a relationship within the community by using old-fashioned communication in order to build your online community.
Think about your personal online social media platforms. Who are your “friends” and “followers”? Most of them are probably people you know – in real life, face-to-face. Your business’s social network should be like that, too. The important part is making sure everyone in your in-person community knows about your business’s online presence, too. Provide your fans with a reason to join you online, too.
Get to know your customers. Go above and beyond when it comes to customer service. By providing them with a great experience, they’ll want to keep your business on their radars. A big part of that will be adding your business to their social media and sharing you with their friends.
Tell Them You’re Online
You don’t know how many times people say, “wow! I didn’t know they were online!” Post some signs or include your Twitter handle on receipts. Tell them you offer exclusive discounts and promotions to your social media fan base and encourage them to join. Direct them to your Yelp or Google+ page and ask them to consider reviewing you. You can even offer a small incentive for reviews – maybe a monthly drawing for a gift card.
Despite what you may have heard, print isn’t dead. If your business is doing something great, let your community know about it. Are you donating 10 percent of lunch sales on a particular day to a charity? Hosting an event? The best way to get that information out is to write a press release to your local media – newspapers and magazines. Bonus points if they have a website – they’ll probably link to your business website which is great for SEO.
Being active in the community is a great way to get the word out about your business. You can participate in festivals, fairs and other community events. In most communities, your business can sponsor a sports team, band or other group. Your logo will be on the back of their shirts and on signs at the events.
Don’t Bribe, Just Incentivize
Just provide a deal that’s so great people can’t help but share with their friends online. You could even offer an additional incentive to anyone who shares, likes or retweets. Think of a drawing or a small (5 percent) discount.
Using these in-person techniques will build your online presence. When someone sees a review on a website or an endorsement from your business on the back of a sports shirt, they’ll probably search for your business online for more information. According to a survey by Search Engine Land, 59% of average consumers use Google at least once a month to locate a good, local business. By enhancing your in-person community, you’ll build a great online community and build your local SEO – meaning you’ll show up on the top of those search pages.
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