#ShopLocal

The holiday season is upon us and it’s the time of year you should be seeing a little more personality from business social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts will be filled with more pictures of the day-to-day activities of local businesses and happy staff assisting satisfied customers. Why? Because local businesses are jumping on the #ShopLocal bandwagon. They understand that online popularity and reputation are trending on social media and they want you to feel that you are a part of it.

This year, companies will be focusing the majority of their advertising on their business accounts and websites. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram will still be booming with sponsored ads and posts for the season, but business owners understand that no one likes to feel spammed which puts off prospective customers. Businesses are also aware that most social media ads that they pay for aren’t necessarily being seen by the people most likely to purchase from them. In fear of wasting advertising dollars companies are now more likely to populate their social accounts with festive graphics and information. They are steering away from “pay per click” advertising.

Online coupons are very popular right now but strategic “suggestive” online marketing is the direction businesses are headed when it comes to social media. They are aware that consumers are not seeing as many ads these days because they have become much savvier with managing their ad preferences on their social media. In the “Settings” area of Facebook, for example, there is a tab called Ad Preferences. A user’s social actions, information, interests, and advertisers that they have interacted with in the past influences the ads that they see in their timeline. They are able to go into these settings and control what companies, brands, ads, and posts they want to be exposed to.

It’s unlikely a Facebook user will click the three dots on the top right of an individual business post, hide it and mark it as irrelevant if it is engaging and has conversation associated with it.

These days, smart shoppers are not so quick to click on an ad or “call now”. They will jump online to research the ad information before they call the business or open a link that could possibly take them to an unsecured website. Chances are they’ll look for the business on Facebook or Google where they can read legitimate reviews left by others and of course they will check the website to see if the offer is valid and if the inventory exists before they walk in the door.

Reviews and customer experiences, good or bad, can be a good thing when posted online. It’s important that all reviews are acknowledged by someone in the company, and fast.  Whether it is a simple thank you or a detailed resolve, people read everything! Even a bad business review can attract new customers if it is addressed promptly and handled well. Don’t think that prospective customers overlook these things. If a business has twenty reviews and zero are acknowledged what does that say about the company? They don’t care? They are too busy? Maybe the business doesn’t even know about it. A poorly managed online presence could mean a poorly managed business in general. Consumers usually have options (unless they’re shopping a niche market) and they will go elsewhere if businesses online presence makes them uncomfortable in any way at all.

Well managed businesses are waking up and really taking advantage of social media platforms, not only for advertising and fishing for new customers but to maintain relationships with past and current customers. Conversations, questions, and opinions are happening everywhere online and business owners and employees are responding. Consumers are shopping on websites and many will click on the social media tabs to participate.

It is typical for many businesses to have a slowdown in sales after the holidays. Some shoppers are waiting for January promotions and year-end sales to shop for liquidated inventory. December is a month that a lot of businesses get more website traffic and social media inquiries than they do actual sales. This could be a win-win situation for both businesses and consumers if it is managed right. Businesses will be looking at their analytics and will be keeping an eye on the demographics of their online hits. They will then target their ads accordingly to that market in the weeks following the holidays which can mean huge savings for consumers and room for the next season’s inventory for the business.

Be sure to support your local businesses and #ShopLocal and also look for the #FamilyOwned hashtag online. When you’re shopping, tag local businesses in your posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Tweets. This supports the business’s online exposure and helps promote local shopping within in your community.

Dock Line Magazine is a family owned and operated business, with over 30 years of combined experience in advertising and customer service.

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