Three unique ways franchisees can use social media to reach local customers

Reaching new local consumers and building brand loyalty with existing customers is probably the number one goal for franchisees looking to establish a stronger local presence. Reaching consumers within a seven to 20-mile radius using social media is easier said than done. If successfully achieved, it could mean more seat fillers; increased traffic through your doors; and sales growth.

Here are three quick and unique ways you can use social media to reach local customers.

Yelp Events

Yelp is known for their reviews, but also for their community of highly engaged local users and the Yelp Elite Squad. Members of this exclusive, in-the-know crew reveal hot spots for fellow locals, act as city ambassadors, and are the true heart of the Yelp community -both on and offline.  Get connected with your local Yelp community manager and find out about their localized events and how you can host at your location. Hosting an exclusive Yelp event at your business like this one done by CREAM (http://sociallybuzz.com/sites/default/files/uploads/case-studies/using-yelp-increase-brand-awareness.pdf) will give specific Yelp Elites one-on-one personalized time with your brand and products, which can blossom into the ultimate free word-of-mouth local marketing.

 

Foursquare

Foursquare helps people find the perfect places to go with friends. You can utilize the existing customers that are already using Foursquare at your location to connect with their friends and family.

First thing you need to do is claim your location on Foursquare. Upon claiming your location, you will get access to a list of tools to help you determine who’s checking in at your business along with how and where they are sharing their experience. When logged in, navigate to see customer stats, then click on real world analytics on the top right. Scroll to the bottom to see a list of your most recent visitors and top visitors that check-in at your location.

Foursquare allows you to click on the respective customer’s profile to see how active or engaged they are as well as the additional social platforms they use. If they are connected to Twitter,  you can tweet them a thank you message for stopping by.  More times than not, they will retweet the message to their followers and friends – so make sure your message is short, sweet and to the point! This can also lead to free word-of-mouth local marketing, helping you to reach other potential local customers.

Instagram

Instagram is a fast, beautiful and fun way for people to visually share their life with friends and family. Your customers are capturing hundreds of photos and videos of your business and products. It’s your job to turn those photos and videos into meaningful content marketing.

To reach local customers, while logged in your business’ Instagram account, click on the icon to the far right on the Instagram toolbar located at the bottom ( will be the circular icon with three lines within a box) which will take you to your profile. Click on the “Photos of You” icon (the icon with the profile face in a box) located on the far right.

“Photos of You” is a way for your customers to share and discover your business on Instagram. When a customer uploads a photo of your brand or products, they can tag your business’ Instagram profile to that photo. When you’re on the “Photos of you” page, you will see photos uploaded by existing customers. Click on each image and engage with those customers, leave a short thank you message, like their page or even follow them. Customers gets excited when businesses engage with them and they will engage more with your brand.

The more they engage with your brand on Instagram, the more their friends will see your business name and photos. You can also utilize the “Photo Map” to engage with customers that add your business  as a location to their photo. This is another way to receive free word-of-mouth local marketing from your customers.

Although social media marketing sounds easy, it can get a little time consuming. Investing this time into your business to localize your marketing initiative can reap lots of great benefits (from new customers to local brand awareness). Each situation and franchise is unique, but following the steps above will help jump start the process of reaching new local customers to help you build, engage and grow your business using social media.

Andre Kay is CEO and chief marketing officer of Sociallybuzz, which provides social media management, campaigns and reputation management. Sociallybuzz exisit to help restaurants, franchises, nightclubs and retail owners grow their business using social media by helping them reach relevant customers, build customer loyalty, mange reputation and increase revenue.

Follow on Twitter and “like” its Facebook page.

As appeared in Franchising USA magazine.