Using Social Media to Build Your Local Customer Base

According to research by BT, one in four small businesses in the UK are now generating more sales via social media than other channels such as bricks-and-mortar shops and e-commerce websites.

This goes to show that the potential of social media for building a customer base isn’t reserved solely for big businesses with even bigger budgets.

A robust social media strategy, when executed well, is an invaluable tool for small and medium-sized businesses to include on their business plan too – even those simply looking to grow a local customer base.

Finding the best social media platforms for you

If you’re looking to drive sales, Meta-owned platforms, particularly Facebook (30%), Instagram (18%), Twitter (10%), and TikTok (9%), proved to be pivotal for generating revenue said survey respondents.

If you want to use social media as a marketing tool in your business, it’s about meeting your customers where they are (in the digital world) and serving them the content they want to see. Understanding the interests and behaviours of your target audience will help you tailor your social media strategy so that your content appeals to them.

Which social media platform should I use?

Just because a social media platform exists doesn’t mean you have to use it. It’s more efficient to invest your time, money and energy into social media platforms that make the most sense for your business.

This means identifying your target customer’s preferred platforms because that way, you can be sure you’re communicating with the right audience and interacting in the right places.

  • For example, if you provide legal services from your offices in Chiswick, you’re more likely to find customers in the area’s local Facebook group than on TikTok.
  • If you’re a baker who offers birthday and wedding cake services, you probably won’t find as much work on LinkedIn as you might if you were to share photos of your work on Instagram.

It’s all about working out which platforms are going to drive you towards the results you want to see and honing your approach to get the most out of the channels you choose to invest in.

Get the most out of your social media

Explore some of the most effective ways to use social media to grow and nurture your local customer base. These techniques also apply when it comes to building a customer base further afield too.

As with any social media strategy, it’s crucial to set clear goals and to monitor these closely. Assess which tactics are most effective and what needs some work.

Understand paid versus unpaid content

One of the key things to get to grips with when using social media to build a local customer base is the difference between paid and organic (i.e. non-paid) content and the benefits and drawbacks of each.


Paid content can sometimes help you see results more quickly, but it does require some financial investment. Examples might include paid ads, promoted posts and influencer collaborations.

You’ll have more control over who sees your brand, so you’ll be able to target a particular audience, such as those in a specific geographic area. If you’re trying to stay local, consider collaborating with people well-known in the area.

Don’t forget that you can claim tax relief on marketing costs as an allowable expense!


You can post organic content such as images, posts, or videos, on your channels for free. The upside is that it won’t cost as much as paid content, but it does make it harder to target a specific audience or reach more people.

Engage with your local community online

Interact with local users by responding to comments, messages, and mentions promptly. Participate in local groups, discussions, or events to increase visibility and credibility across your digital profile.

You could also consider offering promotions or additional services exclusive to your local customers. These special deals or discounts will incentivise your local demographic to engage with your brand more.

Use geotags and hashtags to your advantage

When posting content, use localised geotags and hashtags to help reach people in your desired destinations. This involves setting a location when sharing posts on the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as hashtags related to your local area.

This will increase the chances of your content reaching the right people in the right places. Support this by also sharing content that reflects local events, news, trends, etc.

Brush up on your digital skills

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, don’t worry, you’re not alone. That said try not to let nerves or inexperience stand in the way of building your business – social media has great potential when it comes to building and nurturing your local customer base!

There are plenty of free or affordable courses online to help you master the art of social media marketing. There are also a whole host of tutorials offering guidance and support on YouTube if you get stuck.

Hire a social media expert

If you don’t fancy managing your social media output yourself, we’d recommend hiring an expert in the field who will bring knowledge, experience and dedicated time.

This doesn’t need to be hugely expensive either – there are many freelancers who offer hourly or even ad hoc services to cover social media content and account management.

Plus, once your business starts making more money as a result of your online efforts, enlisting a professional will start paying for itself.

Find more support and advice for London businesses in our resource centre.