The past 20 years or so have reintroduced a preference among consumers of spending money locally. People love patronizing businesses in their towns or neighborhoods, as well as supporting area residents. While this is great for everyone involved, it especially benefits small business owners who are beginning to recognize the opportunities.

Some are happy with the uptick they’re seeing at their brick-and-mortar locations, while others are hungry to expand into the digital marketplace as well. Building an online presence along with a local business listing can help you earn more customers and garner added attention for your wares. Here’s how to get it done.

Ensure Your Platforms Are Current

Businesses looking to build an online presence should make sure their websites and social media platforms are both active and up-to-date. It’s also a good idea to ensure all contact info, business hours, and prices are current on each. Once you’re satisfied your contact information is straight, provide your information to any entity that can list your local business such as Yellow Pages, Yelp or Yahoo. A local listing will help drive new customers in your area to check out your offerings. The more sites upon which your company appears, the better your chances of hearing new customers say they didn’t know you existed, but they’re glad they found you.

Use Social Media Wisely

Social media is great free advertising and it can help you build a loyal following for your digital store. Facebook, for instance, allows you to enter your location and target social media users in your area. Instagram and Twitter, on the other hand, rely on tags. Do a little research to find which tags could work for your business such as #BayAreaBBQ for your brisket restaurant in San Francisco, California or #KeepAustinWeird for your art supply store in Austin, Texas.

While the idea of maintaining a consistent online presence can be somewhat daunting when you’ve got a million other things to do, most social media platforms allow you to pre-schedule posts. You can also provide updates on the go from your phone. Still, you should make sure you check in every once in a while to interact with your followers. This is key to maintaining a successful social media presence.

Engage Your Community

You should also avail yourself of the community around you to reinforce your online audience. Take advantage of events in your area to attract attention to your business. Meeting people face to face and directing them to your site is an easy way to grow your standing, as well as make connections with future customers. This will also introduce you to local businesses you can frequent, or with which you can work. And this, in turn, brings us to the idea of cross-promotion.

Leverage Cross Promotional Activities

Businesses routinely partner with one another to good effect. Cross promoting is beneficial for both sides, as it helps spread the word about the promoter as well as the promoter. The key is to make sure you’re working with someone who is serious about seeing it work. Always iron out the terms of your agreement before proceeding to ensure a win-win situation. And, of course, be careful to partner with someone with whom you can work again and again.

Local businesses keep things interesting and it’s great to see the resurgence in them brought on by e-commerce. For your local business to really blossom, you need to pay attention to the virtual world, as well as the real one, and keep up an online presence. The more you do so, the bigger it will get. Before you know it, your business could well be the next viral sensation.

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