Before national brand marketers had social media channels to help them get messages to consumers in a wide range of local markets, they would turn to traditional advertising channels like local newspapers, television or radio stations. They’d generally run the same ad in hundreds of papers, for instance, to reach hundreds of local markets. The same principle applied with radio or television advertising. They’d create a single ad and run it in all of their local markets.
Not a very personalized approach, but efficient.
Then social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and others emerged offering new opportunities for engagement. These channels have become especially popular among local audiences interested in staying on top of trends in their area, gathering information about service providers, and sharing their experiences.
This proliferation of digital communication channels has provided multi-location marketers with both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity to reach out with personalized messages to connect with local audiences around topics and issues they're interested in. But a challenge in terms of how to create and manage all of those localized messages.
It can be daunting. In many cases so daunting that they just throw up their hands and don’t do anything. That can be a big mistake.
Some Level of Personalization is a Must
In today’s marketing environment, localization and personalization is a must to gain awareness and remain relevant for consumers. A national HVAC brand may have general brand messaging they use to gain widespread awareness at a national level. But, at a local level, messaging needs to be different. Consider just the climate differences such a company would face across locations ranging from Alaska to Florida, for instance.
In addition, social media brings a requirement for social engagement which requires unique personalities across sites to engage markets. That local messaging may include references to local sports teams, or the weather, or local news that the community is talking about.
Failing to focus on localization and personalization will lose your audience. They’ll turn, instead, to other local marketers that are making those local connections and remaining relevant because they recognize the local nuances that are important to their customers, their market, and their prospects.
A Range of Approaches
National brands have a few options when it comes to social media marketing:
- Keep all social media marketing controlled at the national level. That may help to address some of the brand or regulatory issues the company may be concerned about. But it fails to provide local connections for customers and prospects who may have questions they need answered locally. Consumers trust their local businesses more than they trust national brands.
- Provide nationally branded messaging and images to local representatives and allow them to modify to fit their local needs. That, of course, requires local reps to have the expertise, time, and motivation to manage their social channels—some will, some won’t.
- Letting go entirely and leaving it to local reps to decide whether and how to use social media channels to connect with their local audiences. What could possibly go wrong? Even those who have the interest and aptitude—maybe 5% would be a generous estimate of how many local sites this would be—will only be able to devote a small percentage of their time to managing social media channels. They have a lot of other things they need to be focused on.
Clearly the best approach falls in the middle. It’s a given today that social media works. It offers an efficient and cost-effective way to get in front of audiences of all kinds, to communicate with them quickly, and to shift strategies and messaging based on data to help understand what works, and what doesn’t.
The challenge for national brand managers is to ensure that their local reps aren’t doing anything to put them in legal jeopardy. They want to be able to have social media as part of their marketing mix, and they understand the importance of that social media being localized and personalized, but the sheer scope of what’s required can be daunting—without the right technology in place.
Scaling and Personalizing Social Media Through Technology
National brands working with partners like MarketSnare can leverage both their expertise and their access to sophisticated technology to streamline the creation, posting, and communication involved in managing social media channels.
That can allow them to create specific profiles for each channel to clearly focus messaging, and use variable data and images to substitute text and content to make messages more local. This might involve, for instance, inserting city names, addresses, phone numbers, or using different photography, etc. Localization tools are extremely important to optimize social media marketing effectively.
Technology can also help monitor all engagements across all of your local social media channels, which is critical both to ensure that consumers receive a response, sales aren’t lost, and to spot anything that might be damaging to the brand. You can filter those messages by keywords and types of posts and route them to where they need to be handled. You gain the benefit of a local response, when applicable, without the local drain on resources.
When local reps want to create a local message—say they were recently honored by the local Chamber of Commerce—they can do that. Their draft can be automatically sent through for appropriate approvals, to make sure it meets brand and legal requirements, and that it’s sent through the most appropriate channels. Local reps might also leverage segmented lists of followers based on certain criteria for specific messaging—new customers, customers that have purchased certain types of products or services, customers who haven’t been heard from for a while, and on and on.
Technology can also provide both the national site and local sites with data to help identify trends and best practices, offer insights on tactics that are working really well at one site that could be implemented at other sites, identify the best days of the week and times for sending certain types of posts, and a whole host of other intelligence that can significantly improve results.
Local representatives don’t need to participate on every social channel there is and they don’t need to post multiple times a day. But they do need to have a presence. Social media has become a very prevalent way for people to connect with local businesses.
If you’re not there, and you’re not listening, you’re missing out. Every business wants to at least be considered—you want to be in the lineup. Maintaining a smart, strategic social media presence can get you there.
We can help. The MarketSnare Local Social Media Management platform gives you control of your local social presence by creating and managing local social accounts at scale, across all your locations. You’ll take advantage of significant increases in social ROI and garner valuable insights into how customers see and interact with your brand in each market.