Endeavoring to market local brick-and-mortar businesses organically (non-paid) is actually fairly simple when you take advantage these 3 free tools for local SEO: Instagram, Google My Business and Facebook.

How one local business managed to increase Facebook reach when others were losing theirs…

You may have read — and I’ve written on the subject — that due to Facebook’s algorithm change of March, 2018, it’s harder for business pages to get the reach they used to get. Even if you had thousands of likes, when you posted something, the reach was significantly lower than it used to be.

Facebook post reach Imagine my surprise when a former client of mine re-hired me to help increase his SEO and I reviewed his website analytics and Facebook insights and saw that the likes on his page had increased substantially as well as the reach. Why? Because he followed my advice since he first open.

The business is Simply Smashing Rage Room — yes, it’s a place where you go to break stuff and release your anxieties, anger, stress and frustrations (AND a SCORE success story, BTW!). When someone comes in, he asks them to check in on Facebook and then gives them extra breakables — bottles, plates, etc.

Before you start implementing any marketing efforts, you want to make sure your Facebook business page is 100% complete and branded well.

What Checking-In on Facebook Accomplishes

  1. connections lead to social amplificationUsers are posting on their personal timeline tagging the business. Facebook’s algorithm change gives more visibility to peoples' posts rather than direct posts from business pages. If he just took pictures and posted them on his page, he wouldn’t get the same reach. Doing this, however, all the person’s friends and followers have a better chance of seeing the post. Usually they post a video or picture with the check-in which makes it more eye-catching and enticing. It's a form of user-generated content. 
  2. Facebook Check-insOn the business page, it shows that the person checked in. The more check-ins you have the better it looks. This increases “social proof”.
  3. The person’s friends comment on the post. Then the person usually replies with, “You’ve got to try it!” or “It’s awesome!” Now, who can resist that? The more comments you get, the more people see it, because the friends of friends see the comments.

How Other Brick-and-Mortars can use Facebook Check-ins:

Facebook check inThis would require some sort of flyer or promotion when a customer walks in, as well as your staff knowing how to promote it and what to look for once the person checks-in. They need to show a staff member the check-in before they get their incentive.

  • Restaurants: Free cookie, drink, appetizer, side, desert, etc.
  • Clothing stores: $x off or some sort of freebie promotional product
  • Spas: $x off, an add-on, extra time, etc.
  • Fitness: Free drink, energy bar, etc.

You get the idea. Give the customer an incentive and they’ll be happy to check-in. Which also goes to show that you have to tell people what you want them to do. Otherwise, they're just not going to do it. 

Google My Business & Google Maps

Google My Business If you haven’t already, you need to set up a Google My Business (GMB) account. Fill out all the pertinent information. If you’re new, your location will have to be verified. Google will send you a postcard, by postal mail to your location, with a pin number. When you get the card, go to your account and find where it says “Verify” and enter the pin number.

Here is an excellent article explaining how to optimize your Google My Business.

Posting regularly on Google My Business will help with your SEO. What you post will show up next to Google search engine results page (SERP) when someone googles the name of your business. Also, any YouTube videos you upload are automatically visibile on your GMB account. Furthermore, don't forget to optimized each video with your location! 

Simply Smashing Rage Room on Google Search

Note: Your YouTube videos come up here. You should do a video once a week!

Instagram Business

Instagram has a business account option for local businesses and the ability to add the location. This makes it very easy to market your local business. It connects to your Facebook Business page so you can post to Instagram and Facebook at the same time. Note that you can go from Instagram to Facebook, not Facebook to Instagram. 

Simply Smashing Rage Room on Instagram If you already have a regular Instagram account or are setting one up, tap on the 3 lines in the top right of your profile then select Settings at the bottom. Tap on “Business account”. From there you can add your physical address, hours, phone, etc. When someone takes a picture or video at your place of business, they can tag the location. Moreover, it tags your profile at the same time.

Remember, links Do Not work on Instagram posts! Adding a link to the post actually hinders your reach. The only link should be the one in your profile. Users know to look there. The only way to have a working link is to do paid advertising. They also offer decent follower insights. However, you must have at least 100 followers to be able to start seeing them. 

This article gives more tips on Local Instagram Marketing.

Tracking your Marketing Success

What’s nice is that you can see the results of your efforts. The first week of the month, review your website analytics and insights for the prior month.Instagram Insights for business accounts

  1. Website Stats:
    • How many visitors went to your site? How many page views & how long they stayed on your site? Conversions?
    • Where are they coming from? Google should be the top — if not, then you’re not blogging enough. Then the social networks.
    • What are they clicking on?
  2. Facebook Insights:
    • Has your reach increased? Have you gained new likes and followers?
    • What type of posts are getting the most reactions and what time of day are your fans on the network?
    • Who are you reaching? Who are your fans? Are they your target market?
  3. Google My Business:
    • GMB will send you the analytics via email.
    • How many people used GMB?
    • What did they do — ask for phone or directions? Did they click through to the website?
  4. Instagram:
    • Actions on your account — likes, tags, comments, etc.
    • What did they do — ask for phone or directions? Did they click through to the website?
    • Insights about your followers — age, gender, location — this is very important! Does it reflect your target market?

Here’s more on Analytics and Insights.

Simple, right? OK, you may find this a bit overwhelming, but if you take one at a time and put together both strategic and tactical plans, you’ll start to see the results fairly quickly.

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This article first appeared on the AZ Social Media Wiz Blog.

About the Author(s)

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

Giselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, content & digital marketing consultant & trainer. She specializes in market research, strategic planning, search engine optimization (SEO), social media and marketing automation setups, training and coaching.

Social Media Marketing Strategist, Trainer and Coach, AZ Social Media Wiz
How to Market Local Brick-and-Mortars for Success: 3 Free Tools