by John Eberhard

One of the liabilities of many website marketing activities is that they are national or international in scope. This is great if you are selling, or can sell, your products or services internationally. But not so great if you are a local business servicing only a certain metro area or a smaller section of a metro area.

Pay per click advertising is great for hitting a specific local area. But SEO actions, link building, press releases, and blogging will all tend to draw people from all over.

Social media can be used effectively to target a specific geographical area. The biggest social media sites right now are Facebook and Twitter.

With Twitter, you can follow a strategy to build up a bunch of followers in one geographical area. I use a program called Tweet Adder to add followers. It gives you the option to follow people in a certain city or within a certain number of miles from a certain city. You can keep doing that, and a certain percentage of them will follow you back. By doing this you can build up a large number of followers, all in your local area.

With Facebook it is a little more tricky. I have long followed a strategy of proposing to be Facebook friends with people who have 20 or more friends in common. Recently I switched this to 25 or more friends in common.

So if you are a local business, start out by befriending actual friends of yours in your local city. Then you will need to look at their friend lists and go to the person’s profile and see if they live in your city. If so, and if they have a certain number of friends in common, propose being a Facebook friend. It’s an added step (seeing if they live in your city), but by doing this and being fairly aggressive with it, you can build up a large local Facebook friends list.

What to Post

So after you have a large local friends/followers list on Facebook and Twitter, then what? What do you communicate to those people?

Well Twitter allows you up to 140 characters in your “status updates.” Facebook allows 420 characters. So you have to write something short and to the point. Facebook also allows you to post photos and videos.

A strategy that I have found very workable is to start posting one or more posts per day, saying what I am doing with my website marketing business. Like “I am designing a new web site for veterinarian,” or “I just closed a new account for search engine optimization,” or “I am doing weekly pay per click advertising reports for clients.”

This may sound trite or dumb or boring. And maybe it is. But it is amazing that this does create an awareness out there of who I am and what I do. I have seen friends at social functions who have commented that I must be doing really well with my business because they see all this stuff I am posting on Facebook. That is exactly the impression I am working to create – and it’s true to boot. And I get regular reaches and closed business from social media.

This strategy will work equally well for a local dance studio, a photographer, a wedding band, or a home improvement company. Social media can help you reach your local market.