I am really passionate about supporting local independent businesses. With the collapse of Thomas Cook here in the UK this week, and two businesses announcing they are to close in my own small village, it just reminds me how much local and high street shops need our support.
It is up to businesses to adapt and drive their own sales. However, if you know of a local business or company that you use or think are very good at what they do and are worthy of support, then did you know that there are things you can do, without purchasing from them, that are completely for free, that will help their social media reach and advertising?
Focus on a platform
It is difficult following lots of different small businesses across all of the platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.!!!). Therefore, to start with, pick one and try to interact regularly on it. Facebook is still the biggest platform and many small businesses, especially those B2C businesses have dedicated business pages, so it is a good place to start.
‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ Pages
Take some time searching for local businesses you know of and have an interest in and make sure you not ‘like’ and ‘follow’ their pages.
On Facebook, you can choose to not only like a page, but also follow it (which is the automatic option), ensuring you see some of the posts. You can also choose to ‘See first’ – this means any new posts will appear near the very top of your newsfeed, marked with a blue star. It helps to ensure you see posts from pages you are most interested in. See the picture below for how this option appears on a desktop.
If you are keen to still support a business but do not wish to see regular posts, you can choose to ‘unfollow’ a page, but still ‘like’ it, which is still a boost for their statistics, at least!
Like or react to posts
When a local business creates a post on Facebook, take the time to ‘react’ to the post, rather than just like it. Facebook offers you five reactions – love, haha, wow, sad and angry – each represented by a relevant emoji. In Facebook’s algorithms, these count as a ‘more important’ interactions and engagement than just likes, so it helps the post to reach more people. LinkedIn also offers four different reactions, as well as ‘like’, these are: celebrate, love, insightful and curious.
For Instagram and Twitter, you can only ‘like’, so it is important that you consider other ‘comments’ . See below.
On a desktop and through some mobile app versions of Facebook, you can react and comment as your business page, as well as an individual, so consider what might help the post get more reach, especially if it is relevant to your clients and you have a good size following.
A great way to increase the reach of a post for a small business is to share it yourself. You can simply click the share button on Facebook and LinkedIn (or retweet on Twitter) and post it on your own timeline, or that of your own business page, or you can also add a short description or comment, as well.
Sharing content is a wonderful way of ensuring a much bigger reach for an individual post as it will now be seen by a percentage of your followers, as well as the small business’ own followers.
This is an important thing to note…any post will only be seen by a small proportion of a page’s followers. No matter what you do the algorithms that organise the newsfeeds on all of the social media platforms are very complex and because everyone follows a number of pages and has many friends it simply can not show every single post.
Be part of the conversation
On all platforms, adding a comment to a post is a fantastic way of helping to boost its reach as it shows that the post is getting engagement and starting a ‘conversation’, as people feel drawn to reply or comment about what has been posted.
Most business pages on Facebook will also allow you to you to write ‘visitor posts’ – so don’t forget to pop on to pages and ask questions. Social media is about being social! It is great for the business page as there is obvious ‘interaction’ that people can see if they visit the page.
Be a valuable contributor
If you see a post from a local business which is running a poll, competition or asking a question, get involved! Be a valuable contributor and help to make the original post more engaging for others. The more people that vote, enter or comment the more reach a post will have.
This final tip is for Facebook primarily. Most business pages have ‘recommendations’ enabled and so it is really important that if you use a service or buy a product from a small business that you leave a recommendation – ideally with a comment too. It means a lot and is an everlasting testimonial on their page. Also, you can ‘check-in’ if you physically visit a business.
You can also leave recommendation on personal pages on LinkedIn.
Believe in karma?
All social media and their algorithms are a law unto their own, so I truly believe that by engaging and by liking other businesses’ post that you will, in turn, receive more engagement. Don’t forget, if you receive a share or a comment, say thank you or reply, if relevant.
And even if you don’t see immediate growth or reach on your own business page, remember you are doing a wonderful thing supporting local businesses and if you believe in karma…well then it’ll all be worth it in the end!