Let’s say you’re a local business in Indianapolis. Finding and engaging with followers across the US is of little value. You need a way to engage with the people nearest you that are actually going to drive results for your business.
Even for most big businesses today, a localized strategy is essential for reaching and engaging customers.
The good news is that this is much easier than it was even 2 years ago. There are numerous tools and strategies that will help you target and attract only customers relevant to your area. I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide that will get you solid results from the get-go.
Step 1: Setting Up Your Profile
This is the easiest step, but I’m surprised at how many people miss it. Put your location in your Twitter profile!
You can see where your location is on your profile to the left of the red arrow below:
Having your location listed in your profile helps people realize you are local. What’s more, if they are searching for tweets or people in a certain area, they’ll find you! Further in the article, I’ll detail how you can do the same.
Choose the location that makes the most sense for your business. For example, I could choose Indianapolis or Indiana depending on my target market. However, I recommend choosing a city rather than a state. It’s rare that customers will look by state rather than city, so a city location makes it more likely that you will be found.
To edit your city, simply click on the “Edit Profile” button on the top right of your profile screen there and then you’ll be able to edit it.
This is extremely important. Twitter will put location data into each of your tweets, but only if you update the option in Security Settings. You definitely want location information on because this will help people find your tweets if they do any kind of local search.
Follow the arrows below. First, click on your profile icon in the upper-right hand corner. Then, from the drop-down menu, click on Settings.
From there, you want to click on Security and privacy in the left column, then scroll down to Tweet Location and make sure it’s checked.
While you’re here, also make sure both boxes below that in Discoverability are checked so that people can easily find you by your business email or phone number.
Localize Your Bio
You can reference local information in your bio. This could be something unique that you know speaks to your customers or that they regularly search for.
It can also be a local hashtag. For example, a local Indianapolis hashtag is #LoveIndy. By adding it, people will be more likely to find you when they do a profile search.
I recommend against actually using a hashtag symbol though. Twitter ignores hashtags in bios and only uses the words when dispensing search results to a user query. In addition, hashtags are clickable on Twitter, which means that a customer clicking on your hashtag will be directed to a new screen away from your profile, which we definitely don’t want.
Localize Your Cover Image
Your cover image is the big image above your profile, different from your profile pic.
Now this isn’t going to help you get found, but images are very powerful. A nice image of your store front is a great way to let visitors know what your store looks like, so they immediately recognize it when driving by. Bonus points if you can get the address or street names in the photo as well.
Adding your address and contact information to your cover image is another no brainer. This means that customers don’t have to click through to your website in order to contact you. They can find and contact you directly from your Twitter profile. See the circled information in the cover pic below.
If you already have an image you’re using that is missing this information, simply open up the image in Paint and add it on. If clarity is an issue with colors on certain backgrounds, simply add a white box in Paint before adding the text to it. I’m all about keeping things simple.
Step 2: Find Local Twitter Users to Follow
The Easiest Way
The absolute easiest way to find people tweeting locally in a geographic area is to simply go to your profile page and click on your location. This will take you to a screen where all the tweets happening in that location appear in a continuous stream.
You can simply follow or engage with anyone you think is relevant to your business. Also, when you are engaging, please, please, please do not spam people. The first time they meet you should never be a sales pitch or promotion of any kind. Just join the conversation.
The only exception would be if they’ve stated a problem you clearly have a solution to. For example, you’re a plumbing company and you see a Tweet that says, “Does anyone know a good plumber in (city name)?”
That’s it. I’ll say it again because I see the majority of companies make this mistake. If it is the first time you’re interacting with a new or even current customer, DO NOT PITCH THEM.
Twitter is very strange when it comes to its Advanced Search option. It does not offer it on the home screen. The easiest way to access it is to simply go to: https://twitter.com/search-advanced.
The other option is to follow the steps below.
- Type your search into the search bar and click enter.
- After you hint enter to search, you will be taken to another screen. From there, you can click on More Options and then Advanced Search. You’ll also notice that, under More Options, there are some quick options for narrowing search results as well. “Near you” is of particular relevance here.
Once you’re at the Advanced Search screen, you have a variety of options. You can choose some or all of them. The most important one in our case is Location.
So if I’m a roofing company and I want to search out people talking about roofing in my city, I simply type in “roofing” into the search field and add my city as the location. Pretty simple, right?
You can get more advanced with this and continue to target by using negative queries as well. Maybe I keep getting a ton of tweets from a competitor. So I can type in my competitor’s name into the “None of these words” section to filter out those results.
An example could look like this:
Now, you can actually perform these types of searches directly from Twitter’s search bar. You just have to know how to enter in the information. Twitter uses simple Boolean Search Operators, like AND, OR, “”, (-), etc.
So if I want to do an exact phrase search, I can use quotes as in “roof leak”. This will only return results with the exact phrase “roof leak”. Otherwise, I’d get results for roof, leak, and roof leak.
Important to pay attention to is how Google uses geo-targeting. It will look like this if typed directly into the search bar: “roof leak” near:”Indianapolis, IN” within:15mi. You can simply copy/paste that previous search and input your values. Maybe I don’t want to include Indianapolis suburbs, so I change it to within:2mi. Or maybe I want to include much of the surrounding area, so I change it to within:50mi.
Another cool trick is that I can use an exact location rather than a city. This would look something like this: “roof leak” near:”geocode:49.2639013,-123.1117966″ within:15mi.
Here, the questions is, of course, how to find the geocode, which is the latitude and longitude of the location. This is actually really simple. Just use Google Maps. You merely type the address into Google Maps and then copy/paste only the numbers from the portion of the url highlighted below.
Local Search Tool – Twellow
In addition to Twitter’s Advanced Search, there used to be a number of other tools that would help you find local people. They are almost all defunct. The only one still standing is:
- Twellow is a nice tool that parses Twitter users by location and industry. It’s not perfect as you have to sign up to be listed, but is a great place to start.
In the past, Twitter had no advanced search option or location data, so it was very hard to find local users. But with the addition of location data and Advanced Search, the previous platforms’ usefulness faded and they’ve disappeared. Now we’re just left with Twitter’s own Advanced Search and Twellow.
Searching Through Followers and Followed of Local Users & Competitors
So the reality is that not everyone is or wants to be a local Twitter master like you. Some people are also very hesitant about providing location information in their profiles or having location enabled for their tweets. This means that you can’t always tell if someone is local or not.
However, there is still a workaround for this that is quite effective. Individuals, in particular, tend to follow local accounts. Let’s say you find a local coffee shop that’s not a chain. In all likelihood, the only people following that account are locals that frequent the shop.
So, even if they don’t have their location listed, you can make a pretty good bet that they’re in your city. Doing this for competing businesses is an excellent strategy overall. You know that these followers are likely to be local and are already interested in your product or service. Following them and trying to entice them to your business is a great way to steal customers from the competition.
Simply offer better service or send them some kind of direct discount deal. Pro Tip: Make the discount only available to Twitter users and have a special landing page constructed for them to redeem the offer. This makes them feel special and they will be more likely to invest in your business.
You can keep following this route as much as you’d like. You can assume that someone who followed a local coffee shop is local. In the same regard, whoever is following them is probably local AND is likely to be interested in similar things.
When starting on a new local account, I’ll spend the beginning of each day sourcing these local followers. Just make sure not to follow them all at the same time. Keep reading to understand the strategy behind pacing out your follower growth.
A Word of Advice on New Connections
The single greatest piece of advice I can give you is that social media is all about relationships and trust.
I always give this analogy. Imagine that you go to a business networking event at your local chamber for the first time. Now imagine that you immediately walk up to each person and pitch them your product or service by stating your value proposition and shoving a flyer into their hand. How do you think that would go over?
You would never do something like that in real life! So don’t do it on social. Social media operates just like the real world. You need to get to know people, show them you can be trusted, add value, and then they may be interested in doing business with you.
By getting to know people, you also learn if they are the right customer for you. Instead of wasting your time talking to a bunch of people that are not interested in your product or service, you hone in and focus your time on those who have the problem your business is solving.
This makes your customers happy and doesn’t annoy those who have no interest. Social media works the exact same way. Do not pitch people upon first meeting them. Just don’t do it.
These are another great way to identify local people. Finding these will require a little bit of research to discover. However, if you follow the strategies above and begin following some local people and businesses, it’s likely that you’ll already be seeing hashtags they commonly use.
This is how I start out the search for hashtags: I’ll look through an active user’s stream and see what hashtags they are using that look local. You can always click on the hashtag to bring it up in another stream if you aren’t sure. Just check what people are posting using that hashtag to determine if it’s relevant and local to your business.
It’s also likely that people will include more than one relevant hashtag. So if you see a local hashtag next to some other hashtags, check them out as they may be one’s you’d also like to use.
Just spending 10 minutes doing exactly what I said above, I come up with the hashtags #Indy, #loveIndy, #INgov, #massave, #igersindy, and #visitIndy for Indianapolis. Pro Tip: These hashtags also probably translate over to Instagram and Facebook, so you can use them to find local users on those platforms as well.
Not all local hashtags are obvious, so that’s why it’s important to look around. For example, one local hashtag that had huge engagement was #DSC119. This stood for the local school district number. Without exploring those hashtags, I wouldn’t have learned that this was valuable to my business. So make sure to look beyond the obvious.
You can also use Twitter’s autofill feature in the search bar as pictured below. The best place to start with is #cityname and see what autopopulates. You can see in the screenshot below what autopopulates for #Indy.
Find a Local TwitterChat
TwitterChats are a great way to connect with very active users. Usually, only power users are active on chats and you definitely want to find and connect with power users.
A TwitterChat is a set day and time each week that Twitter users show up and talk about a specific topic. To participate, you simply show up at the same time and include the relevant hashtag in each post.
These streams can be hard to follow, so I suggest using a free tool like TweetChat to participate. TweetChat allows you to input the appropriate hashtag and follow the conversation.
For advanced users, Tweetdeck is another amazing tool for participating in chats as well as a number of other amazing functions, but can be overwhelming for newbies, so I won’t get into that here.
If you can find a chat relevant to your business, they are a tremendous opportunity to connect and provide value. By joining and sharing expertise, you easily build connections and gain trust. These are a must to join if you find them.
In addition, you can also start your own. Simply build up a following and then talk to your followers about starting a TwitterChat. See what day and time works best and then launch it. TwitterChats are always focusing on trending topics in a particular field, so I recommend these for businesses that have something useful to discuss each week.
To get an idea of what some larger TwitterChats look like, you can click here.
Be Strategic in Your Efforts
Ok, so now you’ve gone through all the hard work of finding and following lots of local people and businesses.
You need to be strategic in your actions to get the best results. If you’re new to Twitter, you do not want to look like a spammer or a bot by just following everybody and having no one following you back. Plus, it’s very hard to build relationships that way if you’re following a bunch of people you don’t know.
My recommendation is to only follow 20 people per day. Spend some time to get to know them by watching their streams and interacting with them. If you engage and provide some useful information of your own, they’re highly likely to follow you back and now you’ve got a potential customer or business partner, not just a follower.
As your Follower Count and Followed Count gets close to equal, then go and follow 20 more. Continue this cycle indefinitely until you’ve built up a good funnel of local customers and partners that are engaged with you.
Your main objective is to build trust and relationships. I generally recommend a 70/20/10 strategy. 70% of your posts are sharing great content created by others and engaging with users on a personal level. 20% is sharing of your own native content, like blog posts or cool videos that are educational or entertaining. Finally, 10% will be direct promotion of your business like discounts, events, or encouraging purchases.
Lists Help Cut Through the Noise
You’ll probably notice a big problem right away as you begin to follow more and more people – your home stream is moving too fast. Once you get up to following 500+ people, your stream will update every split second and it’s hard to keep track of who is having what conversation.
The best way to handle this is Twitter Lists. A Twitter List is a function in Twitter that lets you add people to a certain group. You have two options – Public or Private.
Public lists can be seen by everybody and whoever you add to that list will be notified of that fact. This is why it’s important to give the list a name that makes people feel good about being added like, “Happening Indy Businesses”. On that note, obviously do not create a list name like “Potential Customers” as that will turn people off.
However, you can create a private list named “Potential Customers” or “New Leads”. Nobody can see private lists except for you and those you add will not be notified they are on the list.
How to create and add to lists:
Click on your profile icon in the upper-right and click on Lists.
From the next screen, just click on Create New List on the right.
Adding to lists is just as easy. When you click on a person’s profile, you’ll see the setting wheel icon pop up. Just click on that and click Add or remove from lists as seen below.
Now, if you’re like me, you probably do a lot of tweeting on mobile. The list function is hidden for some inexplicable reason on mobile.
- First, you need to click on the profile of the user you want to add. In the example below, I clicked on Cadillac’s profile.
- Then, click on the 3 dots up in the corner.
- Finally, choose add to list. See below:
Pinned tweets are not just for local Twitter strategy, but for all Twitter strategies. Your pinned tweet is the first tweet people with see on your profile. I highly recommend making it either a very valuable piece of content that you’d like people to download. This should, of course, lead to a lead gen form that captures their name and email before downloading.
The other option is to have it be some kind of Twitter-only discount, again, ideally with its own special landing page. If you can make it locally relevant, even better.
Here is what a pinned tweet looks like. It always appears at the top of your page.
To make a pinned tweet, you have to send a regular tweet first. After that, you can go to your profile by clicking on your Home (the house icon at the top) and then your profile. From there, click on Tweets. Now, you can find the tweet and make it a pinned tweet as shown below:
Engage, Engage, Engage
That’s it. That’s all you need to do to find, target, and build a local Twitter following as efficiently as possible. From there, you just need to follow my advice above and provide value by engaging. As you build trust and relationships over time, you’ll find that businesses want to partner with you and customers want to buy from you. I’ve added in a couple bonus tips as well if you’d like to keep reading.
Twitter Isn’t Just About Customers. Partner with Businesses, Too.
Many small businesses miss out on the massive opportunities available through cross-promotions with other businesses. Back in the day, a basic starting point for cross-promotion would have been a flyer swap. I put your flyers in my lobby and you put mine in yours.
We can now do the same thing with Twitter or any other social media platform. It’s best to reach out to businesses with a similar-sized following to yours. Businesses with a lot of followers may not be interested in partnering with you. Businesses with too few don’t provide enough reciprocal value to you.
You can choose a week and during that week you can both share each other’s content and perhaps offer a special discount only available to their followers (always make them feel special). The best businesses to partner with are ones where both customers will gain something. For example, an after school program that partners with a teaching supply store.
But you can get creative. For one account we ran, I would partner an after school program with local restaurants. We would invite the families and then take them and their children for behind the scenes tours. After which, we’d have a cooking lesson where the children and parents worked together to make and then eat the food. Always be trying to think outside the box. Collaborations take many forms.
Prior to the event and post-event, we would both promote it heavily through our respective accounts. It was a great way to engage our current families as well as be introduced to some new ones.
List Segmentation & Identifying Your Ideal Customer
Real marketing is always as much about identifying your target audience as it is about getting people to trust your business. This is pretty easy to understand. It’s unlikely that you’re going to market cosmetic products to men. Your target market is, by and large, women. So any time spent marketing to men is wasted money and wasted time.
This is true for any product or service. There are always three types of people: Those not interested in your offering, those interested, but not willing to pay, and those interested and willing to pay. Now it can be worthwhile to try to convince those in the middle group that they should spend money on your offering, but it’s going to take a lot of time and money.
Your sweet spot is the group that’s interested and wants to buy because you have the solution to their problem. As you get to know your customers on social (because you’re building relationships, not just pitching, right!? J), you identify who your perfect customer is. These can be added into further lists such as: “Bought from us”, “Star customer”, “On the fence”, “Doesn’t buy”, “Price sensitive” etc. Remember to make these lists private, so people don’t see that they’re added.
Now you can reach out to users on those lists with different offerings. For the “Price sensitive” group, make sure to connect when you are running specials and discounts. For the “Star Customer” group, make sure you connect with them more and provide them special incentives that no one else gets.
Not only does this help you target your offerings, it also ensures you’re not wasting time and money connecting with those who aren’t interested. Sure, you’ve found everyone that lives in Indianapolis on Twitter, but probably only 10% of them are your actual or potential customers, so you need to identify them and drill down in your efforts.
There’s your local Twitter strategy thoroughly outlined. Check around on this blog to find other localization strategies for other platforms. Some things will be the same, but each is a bit different in how that local following is targeted and built.