There’s a wide sense that social media is a worldwide phenomenon, which it is, but people still live, work, and shop close to home. Local social has the potential to breathe life into small businesses.
Earlier this year we saw an important milestone in the world of online shopping when consumers bought more online than they did in person for the first time, according to a survey from UPS. Despite the allure of convenience that comes with online purchases, people still prefer to buy products in person. In a recent survey, one third of shoppers say that they prefer to buy specific items locally because it’s easier than buying items online.
Though online sales are increasing every year, the bottom line is that you’ll never be able to order a haircut from Amazon or to download a veterinarian visit for your dog from EBay.
That doesn’t mean that online sales aren’t a great option for retailers to lean on, but it opens a door for local businesses to take advantage of human drive to have that personal interaction, to touch products and to be a part of the real world. Experiential products like dining, events and services can never be fully taken over by the online behemoth, though interest in and purchases of these experiences can certainly be closely tied to the virtual world.
That UPS survey only considers material products, which is only a small part of where sales come from. And those kinds of numbers only lead people to believe that local business is going away, which isn’t the case at all. Local business is changing dramatically, but it’s still going strong. Services still account for more than 78% of the gross domestic product and 82% of the workforce in the United States, and that’s why business is now and will always be local.
As a business, your goal is to generate action. You don’t just want to increase those ticks on the like counter – the purpose of the effort that you’re putting into the process is to have the people who are liking and sharing then actually reach out and do something in the real world.
Local hashtags connect people to the material world. Rather than being strictly ethereal things that exist online, local hashtags are connected to places and people that customers interact with. When people think of their family and friends, when they think of their employer and their kid’s school, what they think of are local connections.
Marrying social media with actionable items is a match made in heaven. Businesses can reach a wider audience of potential customers that heretofore wouldn’t have had any knowledge of their offerings. That’s the magic of social media – stringing together opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. Traditional local marketing techniques are simply more cost prohibitive and less effective than using online sources to generate interest and touch customers.
Some businesses are taking this local hashtag idea and making incredibly good use of it. Here are just a few of the local hashtags that we love for their compelling and effective use. Note that a wide variety of businesses and interests can take advantage of local hashtags.
#AleYeah – Carolina Ale House
This hashtag of the Carolina Ale House captures the fun and free spirit of this family friendly regional business. Partnered with the use of rich imagery and local color, #aleyeah helps to unify the message of this regional chain that operates in seven states across the southeast. Using a hashtag is powerful for Carolina Ale House because it allows users to interact with this hangout right from their smartphone.
#NCFallofFame – Visit NC
To help showcase the incredible colors of fall, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina’s Visit NC group is using #ncfalloffame to encourage social media users to share their pictures of the gorgeous fall vistas within the state.
What’s great about this local hashtag is that it not only garners the interest of locals in the area, it also of course generates visitor interest from outside of the area, which is a big boon that’s available thanks to the wide spread of social media.
#NCWX – Weather gone nuts
North Carolina is in many ways defined by it’s crazy weather patterns. This is one hashtag that isn’t owned by a company, created to push business – it’s organic. Which is arguably the best kind of hashtag. People all over social media take pictures and video of local weather in North Carolina when it goes off the chain. Think wildfires, fog, ice storms, hurricanes and even flip-flops in February.
#Redvolution – The Carolina Hurricanes Though ice hockey isn’t the first thing that you might think of when you think of North Carolina, the Carolina Hurricanes have become massively popular in this usually warm southern state. Locals are fierce about their love of the Canes, and online that love is expressed through the #redvolution.
#VisitRaleigh – Raleigh Visitors Bureau
Another local hashtag that’s associated with boosting tourism, #visitraleigh has as its goal to spread the word about the great people of this southern city. As the population of this area of North Carolina booms, local organizations are taking advantage of the boost in visibility that social media offers, by using the ability to connect disparate individuals through hashtagging.
#NCbeer – North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild
As small breweries have begun to take over the nation, North Carolina has quickly risen as a place where fantastic local brews are highly sought after. With nearly two hundred craft breweries, participating, the NC Craft Brewers Guild is using local hashtagging to help improve awareness of an industry that’ relatively new. Local hastags like this one help enthusiasts for a local product to find out about new offerings or companies.
Using local hashtags means reaching a smaller pool of potential customers, a pool that’s more ready and willing to connect with products that they need. They allow businesses to define an online presence that’s associated with real world places. Hashtagging local is powerful.