Social media marketing for local businesses is rife with opportunity – but it’s also fraught with pitfalls. You’re constantly told you should be engaging, but is there a “right” way to do it? Many local businesses attempt social media outreach and don’t get the promised results. So what’s going wrong?
As with virtually all marketing, the time you spend planning will be reflected in your results. Facebook ads are no exception. Here’s how to use Facebook ads for local businesses as part of a broader social media marketing strategy.
Is Social Media Marketing Effective for Small Businesses?
The short answer is: yes! The longer answer is outlined below, but one thing you need to understand is that if you don’t know who you’re targeting and how you should be targeting them, your strategy will fall flat on its face.
The “Infinite Customers” Myth
It’s often noted that social media presents you with an almost limitless pool of customers. That’s great, except you’re not a global wholesaler. You’re a small, local business, so your customer base is necessarily limited. That’s what “local” means.
A good local social media marketing strategy identifies the people in your area who are most likely to use your business. It tailors your social media presence to appeal to these people. Engagement is great, but it’s only useful if the people you interact with are remotely likely to become customers.
The Right Kind of Engagement
Take this example: you could run a local restaurant in a small town and get picked up by a trawling BuzzFeed journalist for your acerbic Twitter replies to customer complaints. People across the world will have a good laugh at your business’s operation, and you’ll get @’d by strangers, but if nobody from your hometown ever sees the article or thinks, “oh, I’d love to eat there,” as a result, has it done you much good?
Likewise, you could run a tailored social media marketing campaign for your hair salon, explaining how to achieve and maintain a certain hairstyle. If that style isn’t popular with people in your area, you might have helped a lot of people with their hair, but they’re not going to come by your salon and pay for your services.
Before embarking on any social media marketing campaign, it’s important to understand:
- Who you’re trying to attract
- What they want
- What your business can do for them
- How to let them know this
You can spend so much time and money on social media without seeing results. A well-designed campaign focuses only on those people who could become qualified leads for your business. To achieve this, we’re going to have to do some research – and the good news is that Facebook ads are the perfect way to target key demographics.
Do Local Businesses Need to Use Facebook Ads?
Facebook advertising demonstrably increases your business’s reach and revenue if you understand how to target your Facebook ads. It’s one of the most-used forms of online advertising for a reason – nobody has as much social data to help you target ads as Facebook, and nobody has the same reach.
Utilizing Social Data
The social data Facebook uses when helping you create an ad campaign lets you target a very specific demographic. So far, so good. The trickier part is knowing which demographic you need to target. The platform can’t tell you what your target audience is, but once you know, it’s the best tool out there for locating them.
We’ll describe how to identify your target audience below. Suffice to say that you should know:
- Who already wants to buy your product or service
- Who might need your product or service but doesn’t know it yet
- Who doesn’t need your product or service
Picking Your Targets
The last category is often overlooked but is important. One of the leading causes of loss in your marketing budget is that you target people who fundamentally will never want or need your product or service. You can waste time, money, and resources chasing imaginary customers – this is often treated as heresy in large-scale marketing because groupthink insists that everyone is a potential customer.
For a local business, this is obviously not true. Sure – thinking outside the box is good. Identifying groups who might not seem like typical customers is a great idea; for example, you might set up a massage parlor expecting your core demographic to be wellness-minded individuals looking for some R&R. You might then realize that people working highly physical jobs stand to gain a lot from high-quality massages and re-target your Facebook ads accordingly. If it makes sense, it makes sense!
Still, some demographics will never need your services and acknowledging that is fine. You don’t have the resources to waste time chasing non-leads – it’s a much better idea to know exactly who you’re trying to attract and pitch everything at them. So let’s get to work.
How to Use Facebook Ads for Local Businesses
This is a complete guide for using Facebook ads for local businesses. We’ll help you identify your audience and how to appeal to them, make your pitch, choose the best type of ad, and follow up on a social media marketing campaign with… an even better one! Let’s go.
1. Know Who Your Audience Is (and Isn’t, But Could Be)
Remember what we said about those people who don’t yet know that they need what you’re selling? These are the most important people to reach on social media. Capturing this audience represents a huge step up for your business compared to just focusing on core customers who would’ve found you anyway.
Of course, those core customers are still important. Ignore them, and they might go to a competitor. While the bulk of your advertising should be about attracting new business and persuading more people that you’ve got something they need, you should put out messaging that shows you’re the #1 choice for people who are already interested.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll stick with the massage parlor concept. As mentioned, you can expect attention from people who know that they like massages. These are wellness-minded folks, and your messaging should focus on what they know they’re looking for from a massage parlor.
A relaxing time. Zen vibes. Scented candles. Trained professionals and in-depth descriptions of the type of massage you offer (you should always appeal to connoisseurs). You can use this as your business’s core identity – when people find your Facebook page, this is what they’ll see. They’ll know they’re in for a good time.
Then you use Facebook ads to attract an audience who wouldn’t usually stumble upon your Facebook page. You target ads at common problems experienced by people who do physical jobs. We’re not just talking about farmers and construction workers – shop floor staff are on their feet all day. Their backs ache. You literally have “pain points” to aim for in your messaging. This is how you hook in a wider audience without needing to alter your business’s core identity.
Keep your main brand message as something that shows you’re an expert in your field. People who are already interested tend to be better-informed about what they’re looking for, so you should be ready to show you know your stuff. Then you can use social media marketing to hint to wider audiences that you might have something they never knew they needed.
2. Identify What Sparks Interest
Let’s focus on those pain points. Your next task is to use Facebook ads to show people:
- That they need something
- That you have a solution
For the first part, you must consider who you’re targeting. Facebook ads are extremely good at letting you select a niche demographic to appeal to. Sticking with the massage parlor example, say you want to target shop workers and service staff – these are typically young people living in urban areas with just enough disposable income to afford your services. Your ad needs to “hear” their complaints before they voice them.
The ad needs to focus on:
- What’s causing their pain (i.e., their job)
- Its possible consequences (long-term pain, bad sleep, etc.)
- The solution (an affordable, high-quality massage)
This is a lot to squeeze into a Facebook ad. You know that phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words”? If you don’t have enough space to outline why someone needs your services, many Facebook ad types include images. You can tell half the story just with a well-chosen picture. A video can be even more effective (see below).
3. Summarize How Your Business Addresses a Need
Let’s focus on the hook. This is the most important part of your Facebook ad – you can make people aware that they have a need, but unless they’re coming to you to fix it, your advert hasn’t achieved anything for your business.
As mentioned, your messaging in targeted ads shouldn’t necessarily be the same as your core identity. For example, if your massage parlor targets people doing physical work, the message should be less about the ambiance at the parlor and more geared towards effective treatments. You could focus messaging on how the types of massage you offer are designed to be effective rather than “tickling” – you should be describing re-alignment and working out knots. These are the issues your target audience knows they have: that’s why they’ll come to you, not because they’re especially into nice vibes and aromatherapy.
Your CTA should urge potential leads to come and get their problems fixed. CTAs must be direct and urgent, not “give us a try” or “stop by sometime.” The customer’s need is described as the “problem” because it is a problem for the customer not to have this addressed. Now that they realize it’s a problem, your efforts should be directed toward bringing them to you for the solution.
4. Choose Your Ad Type
The next step is selecting the ad type you want to use. You could use:
- A simple, direct message with an image
- A video ad
- A link to a blog post
The first type is the lowest cost and often the most effective. It requires minimal engagement from the customer except to book an appointment. The problem with these short ads is that you have to squeeze a lot into a small space. Use this type if you’re confident that you can identify a problem, make yourself relatable to the target audience, and quickly offer a solution.
Videos take slightly more effort but can be a great way to engage with an audience. Video ads typically auto-play with no sound, so your focus needs to be on showing rather than telling. The first few seconds of the video need to show the target that this video is about them, making them more likely to watch the rest.
Blogs require more investment and can be good as part of a long-term strategy, but people are less likely to engage with lengthy text posts than videos if they know nothing about your business. However, outside of social media marketing, blogs are a good way to pull people in from related areas even if they’re not searching for your niche (e.g., a blog post on “Ways to Deal With Back Pain” would interest people who weren’t instinctively searching for a massage parlor).
5. Create an Ad
Now you’ve identified your target demographic and planned your approach, it’s time to send the ad live. There’s not much to add about this stage other than that you should rein in your expectations. Your lovingly crafted ad may take a while to make an impact. It might not make much of an impact at all. All social media marketing strategies require you to prepare for disappointment.
This is partly why Facebook ads are so good – they’re cheap. You barely spend any of your marketing budget, so if the campaign doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped, it’s not a huge loss.
6. Monitor the Analytics
Facebook allows you to track the analytics of your ad campaign. You can see how many people viewed your ad, how many clicked through, and more useful statistics.
During this phase, you should also actively promote your business and engage wherever possible. An ad campaign is a perfect time to ensure people are talking about you – make sure regular customers are leaving reviews and mentioning you. People who see your ad after hearing someone talk about you are more likely to look twice.
7. Adapt and Improve
Armed with analytics, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and start planning your next campaign. What went well? Where did the ad miss its mark? Did you notice that you were attracting a slightly different target audience than the one you expected? Be ready to learn from your ad campaign – it will inform your future social media marketing strategies.
Following Up On Facebook Ads for Small Businesses
We can’t overstate the importance of following up on interest. This type of ad is aimed at someone who has clicked on your business’s page – now you need to present them with an offer they can’t refuse.
Facebook Lead Forms
Facebook lead forms are a great way to have someone quickly register their interest in your business. This lets you send them follow-up messages urging them to take action. Note that there’s a fine line between badgering someone and encouraging them to try your services out – you don’t want to annoy potential customers with constant messaging, as they’ll unsubscribe and leave pretty quickly.
Lead forms should be brief and have a clear benefit for the customer. This could describe what they want to receive a free estimate for that service, for example – this means that they’ve already accepted that they need your services. That’s a crucial step in the buying journey.
Follow-up messaging should be all about the customer. Now that you’re engaging, you want to show the customer that you understand their need and have a tailor-made solution. You can adapt your tone and encourage them to talk about why they’re considering buying from you. The more they talk about it, the more they’ll understand that they need your product or service.
Facebook ads act as a useful funnel. They allow you to reach a large demographic at a low cost and create increasingly targeted and personalized messaging as leads begin to engage with you. Remember that social media marketing should, fundamentally, be social – it should be all about turning ad copy into a personal relationship with your customers.
Turning Customers Into Ambassadors
Speaking of social marketing, new customers become your best ambassadors. As you build a relationship with them on their buying journey, the focus is on conversion – getting them to come to your store and buy what you’re selling. Once you know they’re delighted with your offering, you should encourage them to spread the good word.
Remember earlier, we mentioned that people will more likely pay attention to Facebook ads if they’ve seen the business’s name mentioned by a friend recently? Urging your customers to tag you in a post and talk about your services is exactly the exposure you need to redouble the effectiveness of Facebook ads for local businesses.
This is true across all social media, but Facebook is especially useful because customers can check in and out of your business. This reveals where you’re based, which is another subtle indicator to people that you’re readily available nearby. If someone writes a rave review of a place on Twitter, you don’t spend that split-second identifying that they’re talking about a place near you. With Facebook references, people will know exactly where you are – it’s free exposure.
Using Facebook ads for local businesses is one of the most cost-effective ways to put your business on the map and grow your customer base. It can be a great way to start, either by itself or preferably in combination with Google Ads, SEO, and other Marketing Strategies. A common social media marketing problem for small businesses is that they’re either timid and only speak to people who would already buy from them or think they need global appeal and miss the mark entirely.
Don’t make these mistakes. Know who your audience could be. Know where to find them and how to appeal to them. Show them you’ve got what they need and give them every opportunity to try it out.
Never stop learning from past campaigns. You’ll become a Facebook ad expert in no time, and your business will reap the rewards. Good luck!