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4 Free Social Media Marketing Sites for Local Small Businesses

By Erik Folgate

google maps business signAs a small business owner, you probably have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, but that doesn’t mean you’re effectively using social media for marketing. If you’re still skeptical about how social media can positively affect your bottom line, or if you just don’t know which mix of social media services to participate in to draw people to your business, read on.

Using social media to promote your business is all about rewarding people with something small to give them a positive first or repeat experience with your business.

Here are three free ways to attract and reward customers with little effort.

Top 4 Social Media Sites for Local Businesses

1. Facebook Places Deals

Once Facebook rolled out their virtual “check-in” service on their mobile app, it was instantly the biggest location-based social network on the planet because of how many people are using Facebook – and they did it for small businesses. To reap the benefits, go to Facebook Places, create or claim an existing Facebook Place for your business, and verify it by having it call your business line and give you a PIN number. Then start creating deals for customers and casual shoppers to take advantage of when they reward you by telling all of their Facebook friends they’re at your business.

facebook places

Pro Tip: Offer something good enough to catch someone’s attention, but small enough where it won’t hurt your bottom line too much. 5% off the total bill, half-off an appetizer, or a free consultation are great deals to offer.

2. Foursquare Specials

Foursquare was one of the first mobile check-in services, and it remains very popular because of its fun, game-like features, quirky badges, and points system. They offer free specials that businesses can set up once they verify their business listing by phone.

foursquare

Pro Tip: Don’t just reward the “Mayor.” The mayor is the person who has checked into your venue the most, but sometimes that could be an employee or someone who works right next to your venue and is in there a lot. I recommend to clients they offer a “first-time” check-in special, and loyalty check-in every 3 times customers check in to the location. If you run a venue where people might not visit you on a frequent basis, then go ahead and offer something every time they check-in.

3. Google Local

Claiming and adding content to your Google Local and Yelp.com listings is something that many small business owners overlook, and most don’t even realize that you can claim ownership of them. Go to Google Places, create a new login or log in to your existing Google account, and search for your listing by phone number. If there’s already a listing, you can edit it and claim it with a phone verification. Once you’re verified, you can then create a Google Offer, which is a free coupon displayed on your Google Local listing. This can be a coupon code or simply something that can be printed out and brought in every time someone visits your business.

google places

4. Yelp Offers

With Yelp, it works very much the same way. Visit the Yelp Business Center, create a login with Yelp if you don’t already have one, and then search for your Yelp listing. Once you’ve found it, click on “Edit this listing” and it’ll ask you to verify the listing via phone. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have full control over the listing and you can to create an offer that acts like an online coupon.

yelp business owners

Pro Tip: Make sure that you build out your listings as much as possible. You want them to be 100% complete. So make sure you add all of the missing business info, as many photos of your business that the system allows, and any custom content to grab people’s interest. This will help in the rankings within Google Maps and Yelp’s search filters as well.

Final Word

You can participate in all of these local services without even having a website for your business. This is why a business Facebook page is quickly becoming a great alternative to a small business having their own website. People are much more likely to stumble upon a special deal on your Facebook place page, Google local listing, or Yelp listing, than they are on your business website that gets very few visitors. These services have the ability to go viral, and that’s what you want – word of mouth marketing that snowballs into something big.

Do you have experience using Facebook Places, Foursquare, Google Local, or Yelp to promote your small business? Share your experiences and best tips in the comments below.

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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Comments

  • http://onlinerookies.com Kalen

    I haven’t done as much with Yelp but I think it is a great tool for local businesses. It is interesting that when the Internet boom first happened the goal was to reach everyone around the world. Now the trend is to bring the Internet back home for locals and local businesses are definitely taking advantage of that.

    There are also some tools for Twitter like Nearby tweets but I personally don’t know how effective they are. Have you had any experience with optimizing local businesses for Twitter? Thanks Erik!

  • http://www.moneycrashers.com Kalen Smith

    I haven’t done as much with Yelp but I think it is a great tool for local businesses. It is interesting that when the Internet boom first happened the goal was to reach everyone around the world. Now the trend is to bring the Internet back home for locals and local businesses are definitely taking advantage of that.

    There are also some tools for Twitter like Nearby tweets but I personally don’t know how effective they are. Have you had any experience with optimizing local businesses for Twitter? Thanks Erik!

  • Shelby

    Good list. I’m glad that you left twitter out for small business visibility. It’s can be all consuming with very little return. If I was to add another site for business it would be notemote, only because individuals can write articles and get online exposure as well as sell their goods online without listing fees.

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