We live in a small town and many of our clients will come from outside of the community. I-35 and I-90 intersect right outside of town. There are statistically more travelers on I-35 than I-90, but travelers pass by our town everyday. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is you never know who will walk through your door. Sometimes the person who walks in your door can be an instant connection or sometimes it becomes a link to another person that is meant to cross your path.
The travelers on on the Interstate are looking for places to stay, food to eat and fun places to stretch their legs. Some are looking for a place to let their dog run and others want a place to board their horse. These travelers are using apps such as Yelp, Facebook, Google+ and other platforms to find the best, unique, safe and fun businesses. As they look at their apps, they are also looking for reviews, because travelers know if there is a good thing, everyone will talk about it. If it sucks, everyone will talk about that, too.
It is important for small town businesses to successfully manage their social media platforms. To know not only who our local client is, but to know who our potential client is and where they will come from. Tourism is an important part of any small town, it is a way to pull in outside money, which then circulates around the community. The tourism bureau of a town cannot solely carry the burden to attract passerby’s. We as a business community must also do our part, otherwise they are trying to sell something no one is going to buy. Then we wonder why “they” are not doing their job. It’s not “they” not doing their job, it’s us, the businesses and community members.
A communities ability to successfully know how to use social media to market is key to pulling people off of the freeway who are driving right by our town. A well run social media presence by an entire business community sets a tone of how much we care about our town. How do you define a well run social media presence? One where the community members love your service so much they take time to go on your social media page, like and give a raving, awesome review of how everyone in the world should know about your menu, product, service or experience. A successful community helps each other out by giving positive, honest and raving reviews. If you have an experience that is less than stellar, than instead of posting it all over social media, the community members know it is better to take it off line. Then once the dispute is settled, they also know to make a positive review out of the business working it out with them. This my friend, is how a community sets themselves up for online success.
I know, I know, we should not be judged by what people see online. However, it’s all they see, hear and experience. We want to give those passing by our town a reason to come in off the exit ramp. If giveaways are run unethically, you only post on your platforms every now and then, it is possible tourists will chose the next town over. Why does it matter if a tourist picks another town to visit. Now instead of taking selfies all over your town, they are doing it in the next town over; selling their products and services to the rest of the world.
I have heard in my own community the longing and need to develop a larger network. This is where the world wide web is our best friend. We are no longer confined to only selling in our communities, we also have the ability to cast wide nets to share the best place in town to have coffee, steak, buy clothes and other unique to us stores.
Running exiting and engaging social media pages matters. It matters to our community as a giant whole. It reflects the over all ethics of our community. If your community has issues and they will because there is no place on earth exempt from them. Your communities issues will show up online. They will show up positively as a community who is innovative, creative and loves to work together to problem solve or they will come up as bickering, fighting and a place others should run away from.
If I was a business looking for a home, I would choose the innovative, creative and problem solving community. A silent rural community sends the same message as the bickering and fighting community. They both say we are not really looking for outside businesses to come in. This mentality and thinking will leak into the tourism, because business owners are constantly on guard, trying to decide if there is competition lurking behind the curtains. We’d better flush them out, because our community is small, they might take business away and then were would I be.
Small communities often have small town royalty. Whether it happens on purpose or by accident, it’s a reality. I get it, honestly, I do. It is tough to build a business in rural America, let alone have it survive and move into thriving. It is a feat worth celebrating, but not at the expense of running other potential entrepreneurs out of town before they even have a chance. This mentality leaks into the community and it leaks onto social media. Our hospitality must be genuine and welcoming, because if it’s not, the world will know it and they will use the social media billboard to prod cast it.
Here’s the skinny. Social media is not going anywhere, if anything, it is going to expand. Our small town is capable of not only keeping up with the times, but we get to invite the world to experience a place where life is a little slower, neighbors still care about one another, the coffee is hot, Opera’s and Art rival big cities and we get to all enjoy it in the place we call home. Join me in showing the world what home feels like.