Micro but mighty: how to grow a local following

Micro but mighty: how to grow a local following

“A poet’s hope: to be, like some valley cheese, local, but prized elsewhere.” So went the musings of English-American wordsmith W.H.Auden long before social media. More than 40 years since his passing, the poet’s still got a point.

Not every brand or influencer is a household name and striving to be that could be a waste of your time, money and energy. From businesses to bloggers, a more attainable goal to aim for is to become well-known in your area.

Benefits of growing locally

Think about it. You’re more likely to go for pizza in a place your friend’s recommended than one you’ve seen on the side of a bus. It’s all about real people, giving real-life recommendations.

In this survey by Nielsen on global trust in advertising, two-thirds of people they asked said they trusted online reviews. Just look at review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp - the latter had a combined 188 million monthly users in the last quarter of 2017.

The beauty of working with local influencers to promote your brand is that you get the best of both worlds: a genuine, local review from a trusted member of your local community that you have some degree of marketing control over.

Phoebe Dixon, Leeds-based blogger and creator of North of London, says she’s always sculpted her blog around her environment.

“It’s almost a big fish in a small pond take. I’ve focussed on growing in my immediate area as I already live the place. I know the locals’ take and I have a resource of friends who can continue to build on that. Opportunities to build relationships and develop my networking skills on a smaller scale all act as a great base, should I ever want to take my blog further.”

Image credit: Phoebe Dixon

Finding authentic influencers

Brands looking to collaborate with local influencers should always make them feel valued. Nurturing relationships boils down to more than sending out freebies: bring bloggers in to sample a new cocktail menu, ask them to work with you on a new product launch, give them an experience.

“Keeping my focus local has allowed me to keep everything up with enthusiasm and I think you can see that in the content I create,” Phoebe says. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Making influencers part of the decision-making process means you’ll get more compelling content out of the collaboration. It’s also a useful step to avoid being penalised by Google for bad blogger practices and results in mutually beneficial results for both blogger and brand.

Go hyperlocal

There’s another seriously laser-like marketing strategy you can adopt to reach local influencers and brands in your area. Limit your location to within a mile of your base. This doesn’t work for every company, but if you’re in a small community or have outlets in different locations, it can be an accurate way of appealing to locals.

Meat Liquor do hyperlocal really well. Each of the burger joint’s outlets, even those within London, has a different logo, name, and its own social channels. This way, Meat Liquor Brighton can target nearby customers on a more personal level, and Meat Liquor Croydon can do the same. Beats generic marketing any day.

Image credit: Phoebe Dixon

Start small, dream big

To start growing your local following, you need to start getting your brand out there. It’s all about trust. Network - find local companies and nearby influencers by attending nearby events and launches. A city magazine or website can shower you in upcoming listings that might be of interest, and searching location tags on Instagram is a quickfire way of finding your audience.

Help an influencer out, give a recommendation, be genuinely interested. Keep your focus small but keep your eyes on bigger opportunities.

Be the prized local cheese.

Staff Writer