Growing up in a small town in Northern Ontario – Kenora – I recall such wonderful experiences of “Main Street”. I used to love just driving into small towns across Canada and the USA and enjoying the sites, sounds, flavours, aromas and unique bits of each Main Street in each community. Heck, Disney made a feature out of “Main Street USA” – and what a great stroll down memory lane that is at Disney World.

Main streets not only existed in small towns, but also within neighbourhoods in major urban centres. Each urban centre tends to have it’s old fashioned “Main Street” nestled somewhere in their community.

Main Street Hubs Eroding

I would suggest that “Main Street” has eroded in its impact as a true hub for community. With the emergence and continued evolution of strip malls, Big Box and major retail – Main Street has taken a significant hit as the merchant destination in smaller centres. Even major centres like Toronto that used to be speckled with hardware stores in every community now witness the larger footprint stores as the destination for all. One would be hard pressed to find any long standing independent hardware stores in major urban centres. 

This offers a challenge and opportunity for the remaining Main Street businesses to rally for their cause and their collective organization in getting more active in Main Street Social Networking. Grab some real estate for your brand in social networks and work with your business improvement group or association to draw people to your Main Street or downtown. 

Survivors on Main Street

Many “Main Street” businesses (I’m generalizing Main Street now as smaller entrepreneurial independent businesses) have survived and carved out their particular niche and clientele in spite of the consolidation and larger store formats.

I would propher to say that many of these stores have maintained a unique offering and a connectedness with their clientele. They really sweat their data based, their relationships, their customer loyalty. They keep in touch with their client base.

I would also suggest that for those to continue to succeed, there will be a natural migration to great use of social media applications for Main Street Social Networking as an impactful approach to raising awareness, generating trial and interest in their products or services and connections to work on building loyalty.

Social Media Networking a Critical Tool

By ensuring that they are deploying Main Street Social Networking by engaging in social media, connecting with their customers, placing features in social networks, liking, being liked and keeping up on all things relevant to their core customers – the Main Street business can be relevant and top of mind by Main Street Social Networking.

Critical in being social on Main Street is letting people know that you are up and active in social networks. Be sure to highlight your social networks on shelf, at the cash register, on your door or window. Let people know that you are connected and they can connect with you. Main Street businesses that are maintaining relationships with their network will naturally engage in conversation.

Real Life Example on Eglinton

Walking on Eglinton Avenue in Toronto last week I was impressed by the work that Sense of Independence Boutique has done to bring their social networks to street level. They have posted their active social network platforms in the front window. They also have their social networks in a prominent placement on their website. It is somewhat reminiscent of days gone by, when businesses posted “phone numbers” on their signs on store fronts. Today’s approach is as easy as posting a website or social network. The business can then be searched and found.

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Remember to connect in a dialogic way with your audience. You might just want to talk about that new winter wear that has arrived. But think more contextually about that message. Refer to the school yard play, the Christmas pageant, the first taboggan run. Share photo and video where appropriate – create a stronger connection with your audience through visual representations of you and your shop. Get into the lifestyle conversation with your audience – rather than just talking about you.

Get Social

I look forward to seeing more Main Street Social Networking in the coming weeks and months. I’ll tweet about what and where I see it. If you’re interested in having a conversation about how you might do a better job at your Main Street Social Networking, just comment below or contact me. Cheers !  FERG @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork