Do you Need a Local Social Strategy?
This post was originally created by Spredfast before Spredfast and Lithium merged and became Khoros.
We sleep with our phones, check email in bed, stare at computers, and stay up late watching television or pinning furiously. We are barraged with advertising, news, family updates, work and entertainment every day. In order to rise above the noise on social media, some companies are implementing local social media strategies to better target their audience and personalize content.
Local social media is truly moving from a “one feed fits all” mentality at the national or global level to one with local social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. As opposed to global strategies, which target social media on a country-by-country basis in native languages, a single country could have hundreds or thousands of pages across regions, states/provinces, and cities.
Companies ripe for a local social strategy include those with product differentiation at the local level, a desire to drive in-store traffic, and/or competitive franchises. This strategy has been successfully deployed by news organizations, grocery stores, auto dealers, and more.
So, what are the benefits of local social media?
Local social media accounts (including Facebook parent-child set-ups) enable local stores to connect with their community more deeply than national or global corporate social media often do.
Build loyalty with real time marketing.
Regional outfits take advantage of real time, localized trends and then customize content specifically to their market. Apples are in season and the local grocery store publishes a recipe for apple tarts to their Facebook community. An auto dealer highlights community events to past buyers subscribed to their Instagram – from high school car washes to little league games. “Going local” enables brands to build a deeper connection with their community and stand out despite information overload.
Boost sales with exclusive offers.
Promote discounts or limited edition products only available in a few stores – from specific cars to local produce and city news highlights to your local audience. Social is a great (and often less expensive & targeted option) for testing discounts and offers.
What should brands consider before launching a local social media strategy?
Local social media can be hard to execute. Projects started with enthusiasm can end up forgotten, ignored, and abandoned if they aren’t prioritized and appropriate resources allocated.
Start with a social media audit before you launch a single new account. Companies with lots of regions, brands, and stores may discover that franchises or store owners started “rogue” social media accounts on their own long before the company started considered local social media. It’s all too common for a store manager’s teenager to launch a Facebook page or Instagram account that ends up languishing once the teen heads to college. Don’t automatically shut these pages down once you discover them. Brands can discover a lot from these early social accounts – learning what content resonates, where there’s duplication, and which regions already have an engaged audience.
Brands can learn a lot from their early social accounts.
Consider starting at the regional level before moving to the store level. Roll out a local strategy in phases to give your staff time to manage the additional workload of handling dozens of new social media pages. It’s also a fantastic test to see if your customers are interested. Once proven successful, then consider rolling out to individual stores or dealers.
Know that local store personnel usually don’t have marketing experience – especially not in social media marketing. Managers really struggle with finding content and taking time to post it. Because they are often new to this, they don't know what to post or how often. Social media can be perceived as a burden if they don't see the benefits. And with many demands on their time, it’s easy to push the task they don’t love or understand to the bottom of their list. Good training, best practices playbooks, and clear expectations can help local teams succeed.
Put paid advertising budget behind posts to help drive the behavior you'd like both from customers and local social media managers. Customers will be more likely to see the posts and local personnel will see likes, shares, and comments on posts, which encourage them to spend more time honing their skills.
Determine how to handle customer service issues before you launch. Set up clear “rules of engagement” for how and when to handle to care issues at the local level. No teams should be left to figure how to handle contentious or legal issues without suggested responses. It’s helpful to designate when a local team should manage an issue and when it needs to be escalated to a different team. Having all teams on one social media software system can streamline the escalation process and shorten the time to issue resolution for customers. (And don’t forget to check state or province regulations to ensure you’re in compliance with the law.)