Originally published January 2014 on GPO.co blog*

Content That Cares: The Guide to Unique Content for Local Businesses

Photo by Alexey Kljatov - Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Alexey Kljatov - Flickr Creative Commons

It’s hard out there for a local business.  In the big, bad world of Internet marketing, the little guys are up against companies with social media command centers, whole teams of content creators, and War and Peace-sized handbooks outlining company best practices.

However, local businesses have a major advantage over big ones when it comes to creating content, and it stems from the fact that they are small enough to, essentially, do whatever they want.  Never at the mercy of corporate policies, extensive approval processes, or official company language, small businesses are free to develop a unique presence online.

Last week Lashanna touched on the ways local businesses can use hyperlocal social marketing tools to their advantage in ways that big businesses can’t.  This week, as promised, we look at how local businesses can create content that followers will really care about, and how it can make a difference for the brand.  Because at the end of the day, great content doesn’t just generate engagement and sales—it can also foster customer loyalty and a fantastic image.

Develop a Unique Voice

Whereas large companies may have to maintain a serious, neutral tone in their language, local businesses (particularly specialized ones) can branch out a bit.  If you’re okay with a more informal tone, go for it.  Use colloquialisms, be quirky and quippy.  Just make sure your approach is in line with the brand image you want.

Keep Your Content Relevant

By posting relevant content, you will 1) be able to generate content more frequently, and 2) keep your audience interested.  To do this, see what your competitors are writing about and keep tabs on industry news by harnessing the power of an RSS reader; and know what relevant events are happening in your area so you can incorporate them into your posts.  And remember, a great campaign is nothing without the numbers to back it up.  (Or, as Alec Baldwin once said, “Always Be Testing.”)  Keep an eye on which posts and pages are most popular via the analytics platform of your choice.

Produce Unique Visual Content

At the risk of sounding gimmicky, I’m going to call this “on-the-ground” content.  This kind of content utilizes local color to give your brand a human element and relevance.  To cultivate on-the-ground visual content, get out your camera or your smartphone and take a stroll.  The beauty of unique visual content is that it’s shareable across blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram alike.  On-the-ground content could be photos of daily life at your business, a visual tour of the office or store, a blog post featuring your favorite places around town, or a couple of photos at that local event you were already going to anyway.  You can spotlight the location of and community around your business, which will 1) make you stand out, and 2) engage the community and potential customers.  Plus, there are statistics all over the place showing that photos get infinitely more engagement on Facebook than posts with just text.

Distribute Your Content Everywhere

Don’t be shy: this means promoting your content across every channel.  The more opportunities for engagement, the better.  A caveat about cross-posting, however: if you are opting to post to multiple outlets at once (for example, automatically tweeting and Facebooking your Instagram posts), think about how the post will appear in each platform.  There’s nothing more annoying that a tweet that’s cut off halfway through because it’s clearly just a copy of a Facebook post.

*GPO.co blog is currently offline for redesign