Much of my time spent on the internet is dedicated to making small business shine in their local market. I'm willing to bet that many of you are attempting to do the same thing for your clients. You have all heard speaker after speaker talk to you about not laying out your sales pitch over social networks (if you haven't, listen to a Gary Vaynerchuk keynote speech.) If you don't live in the local market that you are attempting to build a fence around, then you need to figure that out quickly.

One of the most amazing tools out there for us to use when it comes to figuring out the local market is Twitter. Below, I have listed out a few ways that I target a local market, despite the fact that I may live 500 miles away.

socialbro search

The Twitter Tools

  • SocialBro - I have become a big fan of SocialBro recently. These Spanards have developed a superb app for targeting the Twitter users that you actually want (active, real life, people.) It comes with some very useful filters for searches, including by location. Advanced searches such as the ones that SocialBro provides can help you find locally active individuals in your market.
  • Twellow - Twellow is a very basic tool to help you find locals. I use it as a second opinion of sorts after using social bro. Many of you have spent a day mass following Twitter users using Twellow in the past. Don't do that. (More on this below.)
Once you have your basic tools setup, you are now ready to roam the Twitterverse for locals to follow. For those of you who used to abuse the Follow button on Twellow, listen up.

Targeting Your Locals On Twitter

Before I move on, I would like to say something. Stop targeting "evangelists" and instead make everyone who follows you become an evangelist. That takes a lot of pressure off of connecting with a Twitter superstar, right? Being nice and gracious goes a long way in person, so you need to figure out how to translate that into the digital world. Twitter is a great place to start.

Here are a few ways you can target the locals to follow on Twitter (mostly using SocialBro):

  • Search by location. With SocialBro, you can narrow down your search to active users, without paying much attention to their follow/follower ratio. This is all about finding people who know the area. I want to find people who know every restaurant, every bar, every music venue, med spa, etc. The best way to learn about a local market is to learn about what is going on in that area.
  • Dig deeper into your active users. You may find that even though you think that your local market is New York City, but it is actually Brooklyn. Outsiders make mistakes like that, but a local would be able to call you out in a second. Most metropolitan cities have this type of local understanding. Make sure that you have the right market by digging deeper into the profiles of the users you follow. AOL's Patch may not be doing a stellar job, but they were able to break down small, hyperlocal markets like no one before.
  • Make local lists and watch them carefully. I run TweetDeck and Hootsuite, and they are filled with custom searches for local cities, neighborhoods, and even school districts. I am thorough because I don't want to miss a thing.
  • Use SocialBro to follow active users who have strong follow/follower ratios. Eventually, you're going to have to be the one to go out and meet some people. There's no shame in following people who are active, local, and will most likely follow you back. It's a great way to begin building your local following.

Why Should You Use Twitter For Your Local Market?

Whether you believe it or not, Twitter is very important to small business. Forget all of the other amazing things about Twitter like keeping an eye on your competition, and listening to how people are complaining about your brand. This is an old school mentality (yes, it's already old.)

If all you are doing on Twitter is fielding complaints and talking about how awesome you are, you are missing the point. We desperately need to start listening. The more we listen, the more we can learn, empathize, connect with, support, cheer on, etc... Oh, and turn Twitter users into hot leads.

Social media is losing it's luster. It's no longer a separate part of the internet, because it is the internet. If you want to turn Twitter users into clients, you need to be able to create meaningful interactions with them. This doesn't need to be anything ground breaking. It's similar to how you and I respond to positive encouragement. If a local follow checks in at a restaurant, ask them what they recommend. It's the simple things that will attract people to your brand.

Be authentic.