1. Know who the influencers are. Research local bloggers and talk to them about potential partnership opportunities. Be sure to read their work thoroughly to find bloggers who are a good fit for your business. Build long-term relationships with them.
2. Use hashtags strategically. On Twitter look for local hashtags that would fit your business, and include them in your tweets. This helps build a community of similar local businesses, affiliates and customers who can re-tweet your messages and mention you.
3. Find ways to connect offline. Local ‘Tweetups’ are becoming very popular. This is when people who are linked on Twitter meet locally. Be sure to include your Twitter handle prominently on your website to encourage customers to mention you and don’t forget to re-tweet positive messages. Be sure to respond to criticism too by getting in touch and trying to resolve any problems.
4. Tap into location-based services. Google+ Local is the new Google Places, and it is essential helps locally-based businesses appear prominently in local searches. List your own business details, upload photos and videos, and ask for customer reviews.
5. Always ask for reviews. Whether you’re using Google+, Trip Advisor, Amazon, or any other online forum for customer feedback, always ask for reviews. Customers are far more likely to give reviews if you ask for them. Remember to thank them for their time once the review is posted.
6. Reward customers for their help. Create a referral program that rewards customers for referring others and you’ll give them more incentive to spread the word. You can also recognize your most vocal advocates by featuring them online and celebrating them offline through “Fan of the Week” or similar programs.
7. Build social communities. Use social media to reach out to loyal customers and offer promotions, first-looks and discounts to your audience for sharing your message. Make sure to feature the links to your social communities such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ on in-store receipts, storefronts and walls inside your business location, menus and napkins, your website, vehicles, and other advertising.