Having launched the blog and announced myself as a new Reading based Digital Marketing Consultant it would be naive not to reach out locally to understand what’s happening in Digital right on my doorstep.

I admit, due to the nature of my previous businesses where the networks and customers were scattered nationwide or central London, my awareness of who and what was happening locally was limited to a small Twitter list of 200ish industry related contacts and friends based in Reading.

Moving from Business owner to Digital Consultant it was essential to expand my local reach for multiple reasons, knowledge, insight, new contacts and opportunities.

A month on the results has been great, that Twitter list is now 1000+ strong. Not only has it been a source of new leads, meetings, networking, and invitations, it has introduced me to some great initiatives and companies I never knew existed in the Thames Valley.

I would encourage any local business, wherever you are, of any nature to follow these simple Twitter tactics to boost your local reach, local knowledge and awareness of your business.

1. Add your City, Town, County and any relevant # to profile

Making the assumption you already have these, I’m going to skip the usual check of a Twitter profile image, background header and a compelling description of you, your business, product or service.

Add your City, Town, Suburb or County and add any relevant #Hashtag for your local area. Search Twitter for the most used in your region, Reading is a bit of an anomaly, it’s double meaning led to the town adopting #rdg or #rdguk.

Hopefully, your City or Town will be more straightforward. Note this doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture of your Twitter bio, you may want to change or tweak accordingly after an outreach campaign.

Don’t forget to include #hashtags related to your service or product, for example #cakes #webdesign #digital #solicitor

These simple tweaks enable users to recognise quickly your locality and your profile will be more prominent in Twitter search results on local keywords. Immediately your profile is more engaging to a local audience, more likely to followed by locals and be added to other local Twitter lists.

Localise your Twitter Profile

2. Accurate location marker

Ensure your location marker is complete and accurate, this is the field that activates when users search for Tweets near their location. It’s surprising how many simply leave country here or enter something custom that doesn’t link to Twitter’s location data. No value from a local perspective and annoying for the user having to click your website URL, then contact page to find out your location.

Accurate Location Marker

3. Alternative website URL

It’s common to see a link through to a website homepage here, but there may be more value in linking to your about page. Your business may have a local history, a compelling story or introduction to your business or service, you may even have a specific page for local offers. An about page is a good alternative to the standard homepage, your opportunity to make an impression, tell your story and introduce yourself, avoid the hard sell.

Website URL

4. Create a Local Twitter List

There is immense value in building Twitter lists, before this process, my local list was around 200 deep, this has now grown to over 1000 local businesses and individuals, increasing daily.

Populating the list with a local audience was for me, a manual effort, it does take some time, but the numbers soon stack up. Note you don’t have to follow all of the accounts, simply adding them to the list will activate a notification to them, perhaps follow if there is a firm opportunity to engage and network.

Create Local Twitter List

5. Add local Businesses and Individuals

  • Search #yourcity, town or county
  • Search as above but also select “Near you” from the drop down menu
  • Search a keyword related to your business combined with the “Near you” option
  • Search services you may need or could supply or service with the “Near you” option
  • Following and followers, each time you discover a local influencer or a business well known locally, be inquisitive, who follows them, who are they following? It’s a small world!

Repeat the above searches weekly or when you have a few minutes spare logged into Twitter. Not only will you be building your local list but you will also get a sense of what is happening in your locality, the local influencers, what your local competitors are doing.

Search locally on Twitter

6. Target your ideal audience

Based very much on the nature of your business you should also use the search bar to seek out LOCAL Twitter accounts that fall into the example categories below, it’s likely they have a mass of local followers that could be relevant, they will be following locals too.

  • Newspaper and Radio
  • Council, Councillors and Mayor
  • Sports and Health Clubs, and Sports Teams
  • Restaurants and Coffee shops
  • Shopping centres
  • Business Associations, Groups and Awards
  • Schools, Universities and Colleges
  • Charities

Think of any specific groups that would be super RELEVANT to your business, for example, if I was a Sports Physiotherapist, I’d be following the local Sports, Health clubs and local Teams, AND I would also be seeking out individuals who follow them. If I were a local producer of Jam, I’d be looking up the local Restaurants and Coffee shops, Charity events, etc. Focus on the audience for your business, who should you be reaching out to and networking with.

Target Local Influences and Businesses

7. Search Local Lists via Google

The last method to support your local list building is to search for Twitter local lists that have already been created by others. To do this copy and paste the search string below into your browser, including your city or town. Google will serve back local lists for you to view.

site:twitter.com inurl:lists <insert city or town>

Search for Local Lists on Google

8. Listen and Attract new Locals

When your local list has reached a significant size (depends on the size of City or Town), focus on listening, engagement and sharing. Personally, at this stage I do 2 things, the first is to merge my local list into Flipboard, the app will automatically create a visual magazine based on all of the tweets coming from that list, in effect a local magazine, easier to digest the content. The other is to schedule a regular post of your local list on Twitter to allow others to subscribe or star to be added to it. After that, with some occasional upkeep, your list and your local reach will continue to grow.

Merge Local List with Flipboard

9. Engage

Organic and genuine engagement is probably the hardest part of Social Media, but local outreach can be easier simply due to the common factor of locality. Make an effort to listen, reach out, retweet, produce and share great content with local hashtags. Build relationships, if you do find individuals or influencers where you believe there is a genuine opportunity, reach out to connect on Linkedin via the mobile app. Please remember, avoid the hard sell, the immediate “buy this” mentality isn’t attractive.

Engage with your Local Audience

10. Local Ideas

Depending on the nature of your business there is a wealth of opportunity to extend your local reach and awareness. Reciprocal marketing, networking, advice, even encourage footfall into your shop or service by promoting local offers and invitations to your local audience. IDEA, if your business provides discounts for first-time customers, setup a Twitter list and name it “% off until [date], add local’s to the list and tempt them to find out more or visit you. Local businesses can thrive and support each other using Digital, adopt it, embrace it, harness it.

Local Business Ideas

Bonus Tips

Much of the above has been a manual process, but I did discover a powerful tool to assist in finding your local audience. SocialBro, using the “Target” feature, simply enter your city or town and the software will fetch relevant Twitter users, you can also refine searches by tweets, hashtags, etc. very powerful and they offer a free 15-day trial. TrendsMap is also another tool that can be utilised going forward, simply enter your town or city to see the hashtags that are trending in your area, there may be opportunities here to extend the reach of your Tweets by using the hashtags if relevant. Finally, don’t underestimate the power of Twitter’s search feature, searches for tweets can be refined to keywords, positive, negative sentiments, questions and much more, check out no5 on this article from Neil Patel for more search tricks.

In the spirit of this post, here are some great Reading-based Twitter accounts I have discovered through this process. If you are local, give them a follow.

@GROWGreenPark – A co-working hub full of entrepreneurs and startups
@ConnectTVT – Thames Valley Tech Community
@CAUReading – Must get a table booked soon at the new CAU Reading
@lewisandjames1 – A new Delicatessen & Fine Food Shop in Caversham
@Manhattanrdg – Manhattan Coffee Club. in The Oracle Reading, Upper level
@WeAreCoppaClub – Sonning’s new all-day restaurant & bar
@ReadingFarmMkt – Twice-a-month, farmers’ market showcasing local producers.
@OldRoyalsStuff – All things #ReadingFC, pre 2000. Memories & Memorabilia.

Are you doing anything similar to extend your local Twitter reach or using different tactics or tools to achieve similar results? Let us all know in the comments below, and as always a share, tweet or follow is always appreciated.