Facebook is the most heavily used social networking channel, attracting the attention of 71 percent of Internet-using adults in the United States. It provides a number of features helpful for promoting your local retail business, especially given the wealth of location and demographic data available from Facebook's users.

Here are 5 ways to use Facebook for local business to increase brand awareness, engage with your audience, and improve your in-store foot traffic:

  1. Connect with local community Facebook groups.

    Or better yet, start your own community Facebook group for your city, town, or interest group. Facebook is more than user accounts and business pages – it also has plenty of groups revolving around specific interests, especially in the local community. You can engage with your local community and let them know you're more than a faceless business that wants to sell them things. You also get an idea of the issues concerning your local community, events you might want to attend or sponsor, and networking opportunities with other retail business owners in the area. Use the group to ask questions and share “BEST OF” lists. Who doesn't want to be a part of a group like that? The beauty of Facebook GROUPS is the members see every message, unlike a business page that usually has to use advertising and promoted posts.

  2. Use targeted ad options on Facebook.

    Facebook's ad platform is pretty impressive, especially when it comes to the targeting capabilities you have for the audience. If you want to focus on Facebook users who live in a specific area, or who frequent businesses that are near your retail location, you can fine-tune who sees your promoted messages. You can choose display ad options or sponsored posts. Sponsored posts appear in the newsfeed and look like a typical post, except that it's marked as an advertisement. Display ads appear on the side of the screen, and may be ignored or blocked by ad blockers.

  3. Provide digital coupons to fans of your Facebook page.

    Give your customers and potential customers a reason to pay attention to your page, and a reward for following it, through the use of digital coupons and printable coupons. If you have an in-store rewards program, you can offer extra points for commenting or sharing posts. Encourage engagement every chance you get, so you get your customers talking about you and your products or services. The more reach you can get on social networks, the better, because you never know whether the next pair of eyes will be the ones that help your posts go viral. Social network sites also act as trusted word of mouth recommendations. If someone is talking about your store, products or services, and you reward them for being social, you're going to increase your chances at word-of-mouth recommendations coming into your store again. Be sure you are listening on the social web and offering incentives for your fans to be social.

  4. Talk about flash sales and in-store-only experiences.

    social marketing in store experiences trends for business Facebook for local business

    You don't have to keep the promotions solely digital, especially if you want to increase foot-traffic on slow days. Consider having deep discounts and flash sales that are in-store only to help get customers to come in. You may want to offer an in-demand product or other items discounted for the first customers who get there on certain days. This sense of urgency strategy encourages speed and enforces scarcity. A trend that many are capitalizing on today is in-store experiences! Use Facebook and other social channels to let your community know you have a band playing or offer a tasting, a demo, or a class for your fans. Experiences will draw those digital shoppers out and Facebook is a great place to talk about it.

  5. Engage with your customers and prospects on your social media posts.

    Don't be afraid to get social on your Facebook page. Commenting and messaging are there for a reason, so take full advantage of them to start strengthening relationships with your customers. Don't make the mistake of limiting your fans' engagement by disallowing comments. Ask them for recipes, favorite things you can put into lists, ideas for add-on services and more. You can also use your Facebook page as a support channel for customers who need information or help with their purchases. Be more social on your social channels.

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