In 52 Local SEO Strategies for SMBs, one strategy I mentioned was being a local content machine. (I also mentioned that if you aren’t necessarily someone who can create a lot of content, one option is to buy an existing website or blog.) This article will focus on local content and how to become a local content machine.
What Is a Local Content Machine?
What exactly is a “local content machine” anyway? Well, “local content machine” is a phrase I came up with. I refer to it in this way: “They update and post so often that they must have a machine doing it.”
In other words, a business (or an individual) is putting a lot of effort into creating content and posting it quite often. They’re a “machine.”
I’ve been called a “content machine” in the past by my peers because of my ability to create/write/post content — a lot of it. I see this as a positive attribute, and I’ve never done it in an automated way.
Why Would You Want to Be a Local Content Machine?
Over the years that I’ve been in the search marketing industry, I have seen a trend. Many larger businesses’ marketing departments, social media departments, and outsourced social media marketing agencies (and some SEO/SEM agencies) have now embraced content creation, posting and sharing on social media sites, and the scheduling of posts.
A few years ago, some local businesses and SMBs and their agencies tried it but inevitably discontinued embracing local content creation and social media marketing. They stopped doing it mainly for lack of engagement and they ultimately couldn’t prove ROI. I believe it was too early in the adoption of social media among local users.
Now, so many more people (locals as I call them) have smartphones. They have internet access on their phones and data plans are required.
As a result, the locals are now on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram. They’re posting, sharing, reading, and making social media a big part of their lives.
In fact, when I needed to reach my neighbor a few weeks ago in the middle of the night, they didn’t answer text messages, or phone calls. But they did answer a Facebook Instant Messenger message. Just three or four years ago, I would have had to call their landline.
In such a short period of time, the adoption of social media among locals is groundbreaking. It’s here to stay.
Now more than ever is the time for local businesses to take advantage of social media, posting and sharing, and becoming a local content machine.
It’s About Branding
It’s a great time to take the first-mover advantage.
Be the first business among competitors in the local area to start up the local content machine. Start creating content (taking a photo, shooting a quick video) and posting it on Facebook on a regular basis.
It will take some time, but locals will look forward to your updates, they’ll like your Facebook page, they’ll start sharing your content and checking in when they visit your business. I have seen a trend in the past six months — more people checking into a local business (on local businesses’ Facebook pages I manage).
Branding takes time. Someone needs to see your messaging, see the name of your business, and eventually know and trust you before they do business with you.
For local businesses, being a content machine has a big advantage: You have a limited audience (due to geography) and can get in front of them a lot easier.
Local Business Example
Let’s look at a specific example of a local business and their marketing efforts: Duane’s Restaurant.
Duane has been in business in the same town of 50,000 people for 25 years. He’s had a website for a few years.
A few years ago, he learned about getting citations and reviews for his business. Now, he wants to take it to the next level.
He has his regular customers, that’s for sure, and he normally fills up every table on the weekends. Mid-week it can be a little slow, and there have been new people moving to town. He’s concerned that there are still people in town who haven’t heard of Duane’s, and even if they have, they haven’t had any reason to come try the food.
So how can Duane take it to the next level? By literally becoming a local content machine. How? By getting on a regular schedule of creating and posting content, but not necessarily writing big long blog posts or articles.
For Duane’s Restaurant, here are some ideas of the types of content Duane (or one of his employees) could produce:
- Take a photo of the busy restaurant on a weekend evening. Add something like, “We’re super busy tonight, but we can still fit you in. There’s an open table by the window.”
- Take a photo of the night’s specials. Is there a special soup or special entree Duane wants to highlight?
- Is there a special each night of the week? Take a photo and identify which special it is. You can set this up later to post automatically to feeds, to social media sites, or on the website.
- What time of year is it? Are there certain vegetables in season right now that Duane’s is serving? Again, a photo and a brief description is great.
- What about a video? Does Duane have some regular customers that would be happy to talk to Duane at their table about their meal and how great it is? A simple video for 30 seconds or a minute, shot with a cell phone can be great.
- Videos and photos can go a long way to describe the experience that customers will get when they have a meal at Duane’s Restaurant.
- Have you ever noticed some restaurants that have photos or autographed photos on the walls? Most likely they’re famous people or B-listers who have visited the restaurant. It may not happen often, but posting a photo or video of that famous person can be great for content.
- For local businesses, especially a local restaurant, it’s all about the community. Duane could, on video, talk to his customers and ask them what they do for a living and if they have a local business in the area. Let the other small businesses who visit Duane’s Restaurant tell Duane’s customers about their business and what they do. If it’s a local air conditioning repair service, let them do a testimonial about Duane’s, along with mentioning their business. Posting that video and creating that content will certainly be shared — especially by the air conditioning repair company.
- Local news and local events are always good content as long as they’re positive. Duane’s Restaurant congratulating the local high school soccer team for winning the championship will be appropriate. Or, congratulate all of the local high school graduates. Invite them in for a free entree or free appetizer/dessert.
The whole idea here is that there are lots of unique and innovative ways that Duane’s Restaurant can connect with the community and still remain on-topic with his content so it’s somehow related to the restaurant.
Creating local content on a regular basis, ideally every day, will go a long way when it comes to connecting with the local community. And, when you connect with the community, the locals remember your business and you get some “free marketing.” It only costs you your time (or your employee’s time).
When you have the content (photos, a video, descriptions), it’s fairly easy to figure out where to post it and when. The same content can be posted on your website and social networks.
Here’s a list of where that content can be posted:
- Post on your own website. Typically this should be posted on a blog, but the website doesn’t necessarily have to have a blog. It could be posted in a photo gallery, on a page with videos, or on a page (one page for each photo) that also includes a description.
- Post on Instagram.
- Post on Facebook. Facebook right now is hot when it comes to connecting with the local community. In our local area, many are connected through Facebook and learn about what’s going on in the city from their Facebook feed. You can link to your website where the content is, or leave the content on Facebook. Again, it’s important to get people to see the post. Posts can be boosted, so people in the area will see your post even if they haven’t liked your page.
- Post on Twitter. Link to the website where the content resides or just leave it on Twitter.
- Post updated photos on Google My Business, Yelp, Trip Advisor (if you’re a hotel/restaurant/travel type of business).
To be successful, you’re looking for “eyeballs” to see the content. One post a week or one photo a month generally doesn’t qualify as being a local content machine. It’s a post every day, a quick update, even if it’s scheduled ahead of time.
Scheduling the content so that it posts the same time each day for the next week or next two weeks is totally acceptable – unless that famous person walks into your restaurant and you get a photo. Don’t wait to post it.
That’s just one example of how Duane and Duane’s Restaurant could become a local content machine. Creating the content and posting it on a regular basis is key. People will look forward to seeing Duane’s updates.
Here are a few more examples:
- A local nail salon/nail tech posts photos of her client’s nails once they are completed. She posts them to her Facebook page every single day. I don’t plan on getting my nails done, but the designs are so great and so interesting — and they change by the season and time of year. So I’ve actually personally gotten used to seeing those updates on my Facebook feed. The nail tech is a friend of my wife’s, so I see the updates. If someone asked me where they should get their nails done, I’d mention this person just because of all their social media updates.
- A local chicken restaurant that serves all sorts of vegetables from local farmers posts updates on their social media accounts. They post about the farmers, what type of vegetables are in season now, and what they’re serving at the restaurant. Whenever they post a photo of a vegetable that’s just now in season, or a fruit they have, it makes you want to go eat at their restaurant.
Duane’s Restaurant is a perfect example of how Duane can drive more foot traffic to his restaurant. The nail tech has done a great job of local branding on Facebook. And, the local chicken restaurant enjoys all the comments and great reviews they’re getting from posting photos of the vegetables and entrees on their Facebook page.
Now is the perfect time for a local business to start up the local content machine. We can track visits, clicks, and even in-store visits now and see the ROI better than we were able to previously. There simply are more mobile users now than before.
So, if you tried local content and social media marketing previously with limited success, it’s time to rethink it again.
Image Credits: Unsplash
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Author: Bill Hartzer
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