Or, Stop Hiding Your Accent
Last week I spent time in New England, a part of the country that might as well be on another continent for someone like me. I spent most of my childhood in the Kansas City area (on the Kansas side). For my adult life I’ve lived mostly in Colorado, with four years in Southern California. Anything west of the Mississippi River, or really west of the Missouri River, seems as foreign to me as anything could be.
On the 25th of July, we flew into JFK in NYC, then immediately drove to New Jersey, then to southwest Massachusetts, to northeast Massachusetts, to Maine’s central coast, to middle New Hampshire, to southern Vermont, back down to southwest Massachusetts. I’m pretty sure we drove through Connecticut twice.
Coming from the west, the idea that you can easily drive through seven states in just as many days is, well, bizarre. If I want to get to any other state here in Denver, it’s going to take me at least two hours to the north and to the east, and at leave five hours to the south and west.
Lobstah, Maple Creemees, and Quaint-Ass Villages
For me, the joy of travel comes when I’m out of my element, when I see something for the first time, when I feel real difference, a non-recognition. Novelty. When I discover that maple creemees exist, and suddenly life has more meaning.
Not everyone feels this way, or else we wouldn’t have McDonald’s in every town or a Dunkin Donuts on every corner. Some people search out the Subway sandwich shop in Bangkok or the Starbucks in Vienna. There are some people who really don’t like novelty or surprises or not knowing what’s going on.
I don’t believe this longing for sameness is entirely or even mostly to blame for the fact that accents are fading (or so we perceive), or that you can find the same collection of Dollar General, O’Reilly Auto Parts, and Wal-Mart in most towns in America, even as locally owned shops struggle to stay afloat. This has more to do with economics, who has the money to buy and sustain businesses through ups and downs, through rural flight, etc. etc. etc.
I don’t know enough to speak intelligently on why all hip restaurants in the United States suddenly started serving bone marrow or naming themselves with ampersands. Or why Denver today looks a lot like most cities its size, whereas Denver 20 years ago had a unique grit and charm all its own.
Is it the meme-ification of culture? Internet living making distances shorter and so culture more homogenous? Global capitalism? Laziness? Probably none of those and all of those, plus things I don’t even know about.
So what does this have to do with social media marketing?
Let Your Local Show
Some local quirks are less appealing than others, but one thing I think we miss out on social media, and in digital marketing as a whole, is local flavor. No matter what kind of nonprofit or business you run, there is a time and a place to let your local shine.
Three Ideas for Letting Your Local Shine on Social
National nonprofits and e-commerce businesses may not have much desire to showcase local because you’re trying to appeal to people across the country or the globe. I get that. But on social media we have room to explore parts of our organizational identities that may not work on our websites.
1. Feature Staff Members or Volunteers and Situate Them in Their Location
Our businesses and nonprofits might live in cyberspace, but we humans don’t. We live on actual ground–or sometimes water–in actual locations, where usually other people live, or if not other people then maybe mountain goats or tanagers or cicadas or house sparrows.
People want to learn about you on social media. You shouldn’t use organic social media only to promote your products or services. Instead, think of social media as an opportunity to help people get to know your culture and values.
According to smart people, 71% of humans want to buy from a company that aligns with their values. Values can be political, spiritual, moral and ethical, and even local. You can feature the people who make up your organization. Let them talk about their values, and ask them to show their location as part of who they are.
Jenny lives in Boston. Great. What does she love about Boston? What regional quirks does she embrace? What regional things confuse her? How does she bring her Boston-ness to your organization?
2. Talk About Other Organizations or Businesses in Your Area
Even if you serve the world, your business or nonprofit is likely headquartered somewhere. Where do you pay taxes? If you pay taxes in Delaware because, well, Delaware, but nobody from your organization actually lives there, then this is moot.
But most of us incorporate in a certain state, in a certain city, and we have reasons, beyond low taxes, for doing so. What other organizations or businesses from your area do you love? How do they contribute to your local community? What about them is unique to who you are?
As a Colorado business, I could talk about nonprofits here that we love, including many of the ones we’ve worked with and currently work with. Swallow Hill Music is iconically Colorado. The Mercury Cafe is alt-Denver all the way back to the 1990s. We should be featuring nonprofits and businesses like these on our social media page.
This not only gives a little local flair to your social media page, it also builds good will and kindness with your local community. It’s hard to get people to share about you on social, and small business owners know this. So when you share about them, it raises all ships.
3. Do a Breakdown of Where Your Customers and Clients Are, Share that on Social, and Talk About Each Area
Another way to approach local is to look beyond your organization and its employees or volunteers. Who is using your services, buying your product, donating, or in some way “converting?”
You can look at your Google Analytics and see where your audience comes from, and feature that location on your social media page.
Don’t even be sneaky about: just tell them! “We found that 55% of our clients live in Dallas! Whoa! Here are some of our favorite things about Dallas.”
To discover your favorite things about Dallas, considering interviewing one of your customers from there, or do some good research yourself using local tools. Review and travel apps are a good place to start, but if you can find something like Denver’s 5280 in the location you’re featuring, that’s even better!
Local flavor is good. Novelty is good for the brain. Give people a dose of that unique goodness on social media when and if you can’t in person. Your local-ness, the place where you are, is novel to someone. Let them see it.
By all means, make memes. But don’t ONLY make memes. Also show something different. Stand out. If your post fails to reach or entertain people, so what? Social media gives us a lot of leeway to experiment, and sometimes it’s those unexpected things that will draw new clients to you.
Questions? Comments? Complaints? Confusions? Need more help with your social strategy or execution? Email us now!