Are you ready for Small Business Saturday?

For many small businesses, the holiday shopping season can make or break the year’s finances. When thinking about how to capture the attention of consumers, retail owners cannot ignore Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Consumers have a finite number of dollars to spend each year, and so it’s important to make sure you get onto the shopping lists of current and potential customers before shopping season kicks off in force.

We’ve got a few tips and tricks for Buffalo retailers that you can implement to get on the radar of shoppers early and often without breaking the bank.

Produce Quality Content:

If you don’t have a big budget, you can take advantage of time, which is free. Choose ten items in your store that you’d really like to highlight. Have someone film you displaying, wearing, or talking about each item, or switch those roles and you can film while your employee or friend is on screen. You do not need to get fancy with your equipment – a steady hand on a smartphone will suffice. Before shooting, turn on every light in your store and avoid shooting with a window to the outdoors in the background.

Go Live on Facebook:

By using Facebook Live, your followers will receive a notification when you begin filming, and the film will live on your page afterward so you can share to your personal page and encourage others to share after as well. It’s really Facebook’s marquee feature at the moment. They want more people to use it, so they’re putting a lot of advertising behind it, and giving it the strongest organic growth in their arsenal.

Keep it short:

Try to keep your videos less than 60 seconds for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Ideally, we recommend staying as close to 30 seconds as possible. In both instances, your video post will receive a larger organic reach than just a photo would. So push record!

Do one video per item you want to highlight, and spread them out throughout next week. You do not need to go live every time. So to film something to release later, perhaps late in the evening on Thanksgiving Thursday while people make their shopping plans, would be a great plan.

Hold Your Phone the Right Way:

When recording on Facebook Live, keep your smartphone upright. When filming to record now and post later, turn your phone sideways.

Spend if you can:

If you’ve got a single item for sale that has you saying, “If people just knew this was here, we’d be packed all weekend.” then that’s the photo or video you’ll want to put money behind! Don’t waste money on bad posts. Put it behind your best video, your beautifully framed photo, etc. We recommend no less than $50/day on Friday and Saturday because you’ll be heavily competing with other groups doing the same. A reminder to small businesses with limited budgets, we do not always recommend opting in as a business on Instagram. See our previous post for reasons why. 

Have a Portfolio:

Beyond video, make sure your social media accounts are cleaned up and pre-populated. This weekend before Thanksgiving is a prime time to upload multiple photos of your store and merchandise if you’ve only been uploading sporadically or not at all up to this point. Take the time to do it. As soon as a new customer discovers you, they will explore your social media – often even before looking at your website. You’ve got them for an average of about 30 seconds on Instagram, looking through old posts, and even less time on Facebook and Twitter. Make your portfolio of posts look great.

Hashtags Matter:

On Instagram or Twitter, using #ShopSmall and #ShopLocal may get you a couple extra likes, but they are not going to get you any new customers despite what American Express is telling you. Think about it, those tags are being used across the country and beyond, hundreds of them are going up every second. Your post will be lost on that tag as soon as it goes up. If your customers are from this region, you need to use regional hashtags first, then worry about using #apparel and #sweater to ramp up likes on your sweater posts. We suggest using #BuffaloNY #Buffalove #RiseBFLO #YeahBuffalo #IGersBuffalo #716 #WNY.

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Put Hashtags Up Properly:

No one likes to be hit in the face with ten hashtags upon seeing a post. If your store has developed its own hashtag, use that alone in your caption. Use your second comment for all the following hashtags you want to load your post up with:

Interact with Hashtags:

Hashtags are magical. Not only do they expose your business to people scrolling through that tag, but they allow you a direct line to everyone using that tag. Get on your Instagram or Twitter account, click a relevant regional tag, and start liking, commenting and retweeting when appropriate. Imagine yourself as the consumer, receiving a notification that a store they’ve never heard of has liked their photo. Chances are, they’ll click your account to explore.

Hire an Influencer:

With all of your bases covered for existing followers, it is time to move on to those who aren’t familiar with your brand. Boosted posts on Facebook and time spent liking on hashtags helps, but they’re only part of the strategy. An influencer can do wonders for introducing your brand to a new audience. Local bloggers with large followings on social media are a great place to start. While some will cost money to be there, others can be enticed with a gift card, an item from the store or are just happy to be invited over to learn more about your store. You can also employ popular individuals with hundreds or thousands of friends and followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They don’t need to have official blogs, their social platforms are just as valuable to mentioned on.

Consider how much your business could benefit from being introduced to a new audience at such a crucial time, and assign a price you’d be willing to pay to get one over to record and distribute content in advance of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, or to arrive on that day and interact on social media while at your store. If they are comfortable with it, having an influencer take over your accounts is another great way to build hype for your store as it helps to legitimizes your brand and allows you to focus on your customers.

Stick With It:

Don’t forget, people don’t do all their shopping on the weekend after Thanksgiving. They may be out of town, scrolling through their phone and set a reminder to check out your store when they’re back. Even if you’re slow early on, potential customers are always watching. Remain consistent with your efforts throughout November and December. The more of your brand voice you put out on social, the more brand loyalty you’ll foster from your growing base of followers.

Good luck! Thank you for keeping our local economy strong!

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