As a small business store owner with a brick-and-mortar presence, you have three main digital priorities:


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    1. Reach your target audience online.
    2. Engage with your target audience.
    3. Entice your target audience to visit your store and become paying customers.


It’s a good bet much of your target audience spends a lot of time on social networking sites. There are currently 4.39 billion internet users, and 3.49 billion of those are active on social media, spending an average of 2.5 hours per day on the platforms of their choice.


Regardless of whether you are an online business or a brick and mortar store, social media is a fantastic way to accomplish your top business priorities in a time- and cost-efficient manner.


Reaching your target audience online comes down to answering the following three questions.


1. Who exactly is your target audience?


Social media is massive. It’s important that you hone in on who exactly you want to attract.

Here’s a tip: it’s not everyone. When you attempt to talk to everyone, your message becomes diluted and, as a result, it doesn’t resonate with your audience.


Instead, you want to focus on building a community around the type of people who buy from you. This way you can communicate in a way that captures your community’s attention and piques their interest to learn more. As a brick and mortar store, location will play a big factor here.


Consider demographics such as age, gender, occupation, income level and household set up. Think about the personality of your customers. What are their pain points? What do they value? What interests them? These can all be used to define your niche and the people you want to attract online.


2. On which platforms do your audience members spend most of their time?


On average, people have 5.54 social media accounts. It’s your job to choose the one or two platforms where the largest portion of your audience is engaged and focus your efforts there. For most brick and mortar stores, I recommend Facebook and Instagram. They are perfect for the visual aspects of retail.


If you try to be on every platform, you’ll likely run into resource issues related to the amount of time, staff and budget required to manage your social media accounts. It’s better to focus your efforts, stay consistent and make one or two platforms a success before adding more.


The easiest way to find out where your target audience is most active is to simply ask them. You can bring it up with current customers while in-store or ask them to fill out a survey. If your current customers are spending a significant amount of time on a certain platform, chances are, the rest of your potential audience is too.


3. Which similar accounts might they be following?


Most likely, your competitors are active on social media. They may have already built a community of your ideal audience, making it easy for you to find them. Similarly, there are likely to be a number of non-direct competitors who share a similar audience to you. They also have communities you can tap into.


You can easily search accounts on both Facebook and Instagram if you know your competitors’ names. On Instagram, you can search hashtags that your customers or competitors might be using. You can also search for your location on both platforms, which is a big advantage as a physical store.


Once you understand the locations, hashtags, and accounts that are performing well, take time to reach out and engage with your audience members.


Like posts, add thoughtful and relevant comments on posts, reply to Stories and show you are invested.


Connect with local business owners and learn from them. With the right ‘collaboration over competition’ mindset, you’ll discover opportunities to serve your customers by tapping into the community of others.


Now you’re ready to engage with your target audience


Once you’ve found your target audience, you need to earn their attention and their engagement with your brand. This is not always easy. It takes time and consistent effort but there are some best practices for you to follow.


1. Be consistent


Consistency will always have the greatest impact on your success. It’s important to post consistently and ensure you optimize your post for each platform. When it comes to Facebook and Instagram, a combination of photos and videos works well.


Aim to post on a daily basis if you possibly can. To help with consistency, come up with a content plan and consider using a tool like AgoraPulse, Hootsuite or Buffer to plan and schedule your content in advance.


2. Create thumb-stopping content


Your content has to be thumb-stopping to capture the attention of your audience. Use high-quality photos and videos that are visually compelling.


Definitely allocate a budget for content creation, particularly if you have a visual brand. Consider hiring a photographer and setting up your store aesthetic so that you encourage customers to take photos in your store and publish them online, too.


Share your products online and in a setting in which your audience can relate. Showcase your store. Give your prospects a reason to visit you!


3. Be sure to include well-written captions


Your captions should speak to your audience rather than at them. Including a question and some fun emojis can be a great way to spark a conversation and boost engagement. In fact, emojis increase Instagram engagement by 48 percent.


For video posts, always add captions, as 85 percent of videois watched with the sound off. If you’re unfamiliar with how to do this, you can use a tool like Rev, Zubtitleor Temito create these captions for you. Or, Facebook has the caption tool built-in for most video lengths.


4. Use location tags and hashtags


When posting on Instagram, always add your location to each post and include hashtags relevant to your audience. You can use up to 30 hashtags in each Instagram post. Discover which hashtags are popular and relevant simply be searching within the Instagram app and filtering through ‘Tags.’


5. Use Stories daily


Use Stories on a daily basis to give your audience an insight into the offline experience they can expect when visiting your store. Share behind the scenes of what goes on in your business. Not only does this build trust through transparency, it helps to build real relationships with people online and generate excitement around visiting your store.


Stories have a number of fun, interactive features. Use quizzes, questions, polls, GIFs, and stickers to showcase your brand personality and encourage engagement. Invite your audience to be part of store decisions such as which items to put in your storefront, your next offline promotion, etc. It shows you genuinely care about providing the best experience possible and helps your audience to feel invested in your brand, again, giving them even more reason to visit.


You can also use Stories to share experiences posted from other customers who have visited your store. This will create a buzz and provide social proof to those who are yet to visit.


For more tips on Stories, check out How to Make Stories Work for your Small Business.


Bonus Tip: If you really want to generate excitement, create a small ‘Instagram Booth’ in your store to encourage current customers to take photos/videos and post online tagging your company. This way you are also growing your online word of mouth through your current customer base.



About Mari Smith



Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.


Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.


Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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