Community advocacy, whether by individuals or groups, is the currency of local business growth. Sure you may have that widget everyone wants, and sell a lot of them over the holidays without trying too hard - but after the holidays, and after the widget's attraction wears out - how do you get customers to continue paying attention, continue shopping at your store, continue being top of mind when customers are entering a purchasing cycle?
You're there, in the community, among your constituency, in the local news - through social media. Consider 15 minutes in your online browsing daily routine. Check local Facebook activities and groups, scan twitter a bit, search in Google for more information on interesting events or people (or something you heard on the radio), ask your friend's advice or perspective about a new restaurant. Then take a look at your email for work-related or more directed notices, and check the latest activities of some of your co-workers or business connections in LinkedIn.
If a local business has promoted or earned online some positive feedback about its active support of a local nonprofit or community initiative, chances are that someone among the 20-30 online communities you intersected this morning has seen it, commented on it, liked it, or otherwise indicated some positive interest and support. And, therefore, you should too - being far more likely to respond to a trusted source's suggestion of interest and support, than you would to a typically intrusive advertisement.
So, not only is the business attracting more positive attention by new audiences, this attention is multiplied and amplified in both predictable and unpredictable ways. This means new customers and networking partners, more representation in online searches, more clicks and sign-ups (conversions), more positive testimonials (i.e. comments, likes, stars, etc.) and – most importantly of all – actual generation of economic development benefits in terms of increased visibility and appreciation of the business community, by the rest of the community.
Take a look around your online communities – which businesses are active, helping, engaged with those communities you and your network support? KME.Digital for example, has done this a lot – helping organizations like 100WomenStrong.com, volunteering on the Economic Development Advisory Commission and NVTC committees, providing internships and career guidance to local students. It’s a force multiplier; so many more people are finding about our brand, our services and of course our community support, through a multitude of local social media channels – some of which we manage, most of which we don’t. Our whole local economy benefits – our employees, our partners, our own clients and local business community.
Let’s all get involved, be social and amplify our partner communities online.
By: Kelly McLaughlan, CEO, KME Digital and Panelist for Community Engagement Series Grow Your Business - Using Social Media