Social Media for Local Businesses. Is it Really Necessary?

Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with Social Media. As small business owners, we get hammered to include SM in our marketing plans. Everywhere you look, if looking for advice on social media, you’ll find numerous tips on increasing your followers, increasing you reach online, etc. SEO, SERP, Conversions, Inbound Marketing.

Does this really matter? It depends on your business.

Travel Agencies are, for the most part, local businesses.  In the perfect business world, you want your company name to pop up on the first page of Google/Bing when someone searches for Travel Agents in your area. It would be nice too, if your agency popped up on the first page whenever someone searches for info on your niche area.

The “experts” recommend you devote no more than 1 hour a day to your Social Media efforts. Anything more than that is essentially a waste of time.

For a local business, having a massive presence on Social Media isn’t necessary. You don’t need to be hyper-posting on Google+/FB/Twitter/Pinterest all day long. What IS important is having a well laid out webpage, and maybe a blog of your own adventures, or tips to customers. It doesn’t need to be a Top-of-the-line, $150/month website that auto-updates news and specials all day long, either. You just need something that says “here I am. I’m a legitimate business, and this is what I offer.”  This is necessary because..well, “everybody has a webpage.” It’s expected, and it adds to your credibility. Same goes for Facebook. Everybody and their Aunt Martha is on Facebook, so they expect you to be also.

Once you have some sort of online presence established, you need to tell people where to find it. This is where that fancy word, “networking,” comes into play. Pass out business cards! Meet your neighbors! Sell yourself! Unless your business model is 100% online, you need to be out actively marketing yourselves!

Make sure that your website is listed on your business card. Today, more than 50% of cell phone users have smart phones. They expect to be able to get in contact with you in more ways than just via telephone. Email address, maybe a Twitter handle, too. And they expect to be able to get in contact with you when it’s convenient for them!

Why? Because the person you hand your card to, and chat with for a minute or two, is going to go home, think about what you said, and then pull up your website to see what you’re about. Maybe they are ready to take a vacation, but are not sure where. You’ve planted that seed. Give it someplace to grow. They’re going to go online to look at options. Make sure that they do that looking on your site.

Hopefully, because of both the digital information you provided, as well as the personal interaction you created when you talked to them, your name is going to be Top of Mind when they have additional questions, or want to be talked into booking the 16 day Danube River cruise they’ve always wanted to take.

So, Yes, social media is an important component of your marketing plan, but it is only a part of it. Having a social media presence gives you added legitimacy. And, there is an investment of time required to set it up, and maintain it. And, you need to invest that time in your Local social media presence.

On the other hand, No, you don’t need to have a massive social media presence online to succeed. You need to have the basics that people have come to expect, and you need to market those as part of the “complete package” of what you offer.

What are your thoughts on this?

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