2019 Digital Trends: Tracking Changes in Engagement and Reviews

In the world of localized social marketing, platforms continue to change and user habits continue to evolve. Still, some things remain static;  every digital marketing all digital marketers want to see engagement and every marketer wants to control their online reputation.

However, some engagements matter more than others, and the reputation management space if shifting. Traditional review sites like Yelp continue to receive reviews, but social platforms like Facebook and Google are receiving more reviews than any other reputation platform.

In the ever-evolving social media and reputation management spaces, these details matter. SOCi’s latest research report — State of the Market: The Power of Organic AND Paid Content — features analysis of our platform data, then provides insights into the latest trends marketers need to know in the worlds of social media and reputation management. Below, we highlight five key insights.

1. Where are your customers leaving their reviews?

Reviews have spread beyond the confines of review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor and into the most popular platforms on the web, including Facebook and Google.

According to the latest State of the Market report, Google My Business (GMB) and Facebook are the top platforms in terms of total volume of reviews, as they were in the Q4 2018 State of the Market report. Other review sites saw an increase in review volume from Q1 to Q4; OpenTable, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Expedia grew by 3 percent, 4 percent, 7 percent and 9 percent, respectively. The growth in these networks emphasizes the need for multi-location marketers to not only be aware of, but actively managing, any and all review platforms where consumers are engaging.

 

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2. How much do consumers care about star-ratings?

Consumers have high standards for star-ratings. SOCi data shows that more than 50 percent of consumers won’t consider a business unless it has at least 3.5 stars. As a result, the ratings and review space is a competitive one; if all your competitors have 4 stars and your business only has 3.5, consumers are likely passing up your business in favor of the competition.

The State of the Market report reveals that from Q4, 2018 to Q1 2019, the overall average star rating across top review sites dropped 0.19 points — from 3.98 to 3.79. However, the overall volume of reviews did increase during this time. Marketers are recognizing the importance of a strong star-rating, and despite the drop, brands are still maintaining a score above the minimum expected star rating of 3.5.

Reviews have infiltrated every digital social space, and are highly visible as a result. In response, businesses must develop a strategy to garner a high volume of reviews and respond to all reviews, comments and questions. A smart reputation management strategy also involves monitoring competitors’ reviews and proactively adjusting business practices based on consumer feedback. SOCi can help multi-location marketers consolidate this process through features called Reputation Competition and Reputation Sentiment.

Reputation Competition allows users to analyze competitors’ online reputation at the local level – without any manual research. It empowers users to easily identify areas for opportunity in their local market, see reputation trends across similar brands and discover ways to set themselves apart from the competition.

Reputation Sentiment filters out the noise, provides a clearer picture of common keyword usage, and shows if these terms are used in a positive, negative, or neutral manner over a given timeframe

3. What is the difference between high-value and low-value engagements?

Each social platform has different actions that constitute high-value and low-value engagements. On Facebook, comments, shares and direct messages are high-value engagements and likes and other reactions are considered low-value. On Instagram, comments are the only actions that count as high-value engagements. On Twitter, direct interactions such as mentions, direct messages or replies are high-value engagements and favorites or retweets are seen as low-value.

Social marketers are making a major shift to focusing on high-value engagements instead of low-value engagements. SOCi data shows a 214% increase in high-value engagements from Q4 to Q1. Businesses are creating highly relevant local content — using social media tools and features to engage with consumers in a meaningful way through comments, by responding to mentions or replies, thanking users for shares, or responding to messages directly.

4. The powerful effect of high-value engagements.

An increase in high-value engagements with your local community leads to an increase in reach for your organic posts. Organic reach can be as low as < 1 percent of Page followers, but as high as 10 percent if your posts get high-value engagements from followers.

While 10 percent of your Page followers doesn’t match the reach businesses were seeing prior to Facebook’s 2018 algorithm changes, marketers should make every effort to encourage these high-value engagements on organic content in order to achieve the maximum reach. Part of a diversified localized social marketing strategy involves incorporating localized content that encourages engagement through organic efforts, while leveraging tactics such as Facebook Boost to enhance the reach and engagement of certain key pieces of content.

5. When should I post to achieve maximum engagement?

Although most marketers prefer to post in the window between 9am and 5pm, that approach could be limiting engagement levels. According to the SOCi’s State of the Market report, the highest engagement levels — in terms of shares and comments— are seen at night.

This makes sense when we think about our own digital activity as consumers. Users “catch up” on the day at home; dual-screen after dinner and while winding down before bed. To match user behavior, marketers should consider posting new content at night, in order to capitalize on pre-existing nighttime social habits.

What does this all mean?

As social media engagement takes on a more important role and reviews infiltrate more digital spaces, businesses must respond with an all-encompassing strategy for localized social marketing. How will you boost organic engagement AND develop a paid social approach? How can you respond to reviews on traditional review platforms AND manage your reputation on social media sites? For many multi-location marketers, the answers to these questions are found in a social media and reputation management platform like SOCi.

 

Download the State of the Market report now to see how SOCi users succeed in social media and reputation management.

 


What Are Google Local Guides and How Can Businesses Benefit?

Google introduced Local Guides four years ago. Since then, it’s grown into an incredibly popular program with 60 million Local Guides contributing around the world. Local Guides are people who answer questions, share photos and update information about places and businesses on Google Maps. Google rewards Local Guides for their contributions with prizes that range from a free movie rental on Google Play to a Local Guides Conference in San Francisco that attracts 150 Local Guides from 62 different countries.

Anyone can become a Local Guide — it’s as easy as signing up, turning on location-sharing and contributing to information on Google Maps. Contributions include updating a business’ location information, answering specific questions about a business, leaving reviews and posting photos — which Local Guides did more than 300 million times in 2017.

Multi-location businesses need to be aware of Local Guides and the impact they have on Google My Business pages, which is the platform through which businesses appear on Google Maps and Google search. Below, you’ll find four ways in which Local Guides are changing the Google Maps landscape, and what marketers can do to adjust.

Local Guides: Beyond Google Reviews

Local Guides can write reviews that appear in Google Reviews, but they also provide different kinds of information about local businesses. Local Guides operate in Google Maps; answering questions, verifying information and adding photos and videos. Business owners set up their pages in Google My Business, and that information appears in Google Maps when users find the business. These business listings have Google Reviews, the business’ address, phone number, operating hours and Google Q&A posts; questions and answers provided by consumers and business owners.

When consumers post on Google Reviews, they provide a star-rating, write a short summary of their experience, and can post an image of the business. When Local Guides contribute to Google Maps listings, they contribute specific information about a place or business. They might answer Google Q&A questions such as, “is this store wheelchair accessible?” or “does this coffee shop have WiFi”. They also might be asked to provide the business’ address, or confirm whether or not the website on the listing is the correct website for the business.

Making Google Maps Even More Relevant

Nearly 70 percent of smartphone owners prefer Google Maps over other navigation apps, making it the number one maps app on mobile. It’s imperative that every multi-location business has an accurate listing for each location on this popular app. These listings can be created and edited through the business’ Google My Business account.

Once you’ve verified the operating hours, location, business name, optimize your listing by adding photos and providing pre-populated Google Q&A questions and answers. If your business is a restaurant, add menus to each location’s Google My Business profile. If you run a service-based business, give users the option to book an appointment right from the Google Maps listing. Turn your listing into a one-stop-shop for consumers seeking information about your business.

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Local Guides Can Shape Your First Impression

Local Guides can add a new place to Google Maps if it isn’t already there. If a new business opens and the owners don’t create a Google My Business page, it’s likely that a Local Guide will end up creating it for them. This happens more often than you might think; over 700,000 new places are added to Google Maps each month. If you recently opened a new business location and haven’t already created a listing for it on Google My Business, it won’t be long before a Local Guide fills in your business info themselves.

Local Guides can add your business’ address and operating hours, post questions and responses on your business’ Google Q&A page, and add pictures of your business. Wouldn’t you rather that you control the narrative around your new business, especially as you’re establishing your first impression on the surrounding community? If you don’t want someone else controlling the public perception of your business, take control by optimizing your business’ Google Maps listing.

Incentivizing Accuracy on Google Maps

Through the Local Guides program, Google is holding both consumers and businesses responsible for posting authentic and accurate information. Local Guides are incentivized to submit accurate edits since all edits are reviewed, and Local Guides don’t want to have their edits denied. The more edits that a Local Guide has published, the more Google trusts and rewards their contributions.

Google has policies to control the type of content that Local Guides can post. Google Q&A posts and Google Reviews can’t be spam or contain fake content. They can’t be off-topic and they can’t come from someone with a conflict of interest. If Local Guides are found violating any of these rules, Google may go so far as to ban them from editing information on Google Maps.

Businesses also have an incentive to submit accurate data for their Google Maps listings. If the business provides accurate data, there’s no need for a Local Guide to come in and provide edits that may or may not be in the best interests of the business. Providing accurate information in Google Q&A can also involve adding keywords to questions and answers, which boosts SEO.

Local Guides can help businesses too, as Google trusts their positive reviews and often moves them to the top of the Google Reviews page. It’s easy to tell if a Local Guide reviewed your business, because their profile will have a “Local Guides” title under the profile picture. Local Guides can also update inaccurate information that may be adversely affecting your business, such as the wrong address or an inaccurate Google Q&A answer.

Most business owners understand the importance of a website; the site acts as a digital information hub for everything customers need to know about your business. Consumer browsing habits have changed, however. Consumers want information right in their navigation app or in their search results page, so Google has provided GMB profiles that act as microsites for businesses. While websites are still necessary for SEO purposes and overall consumer engagement, the GMB profile serves as an important initial touchpoint that can influence the purchase decision.

Local Guides are yet another tool Google uses to ensure accuracy on Google Maps and GMB. Businesses can get out ahead of Local Guides by ensuring each listing has accurate information and pre-populated Google Q&A questions and answers. The more accurate the information, the easier it will be for consumers to find each of your business locations.

Watch our webinar to learn more about managing a local presence for multiple locations

 

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The Latest Local Social Features Brands Need to Know

For social media marketers, every new platform feature is an opportunity. New reporting tools let marketers fine-tune campaigns. New targeting features help marketers reach the ideal customer. New social platforms give marketers the chance to connect with audiences before competitors catch on.

New social features from Facebook, Instagram and Google are empowering marketers to realize the power of localized content, reach customers earlier in the consumer journey and analyze campaigns in more detail. Here are four of the most talked-about social updates to hit the market so far in 2019, and strategies for how to use them.

Facebook Video Insights

Analytics — whether they come from Facebook or a third-party reporting tool — should inform and affect your marketing strategies. Detailed reports tell you what worked, what didn’t, and why.

Facebook’s new Video Performance Card reporting feature provides metrics that quantify your audience’s attention span when it comes to video content. Marketers can see when users click away or scroll past the video, whether or not the user sees the part of the video that contains the main message, and see video plays broken down by how long people watched the video.

According to Facebook,18-35-year-olds have 75 percent shorter attention spans for ads than people age 65+ do. This information, combined with Facebook’s Video Performance Card, should help marketers create video ads that drive the point home without exceeding the short time-limit that accompanies the modern attention span.

Facebook recommends that News Feed video ads be no more than 15-seconds, and they have mentioned that the sweet spot for video is about 6-seconds. No matter how long your video is, place key messages early in the video so as to get your point across before consumers click away or keep scrolling. To create a winning formula for your video, show your product or offering, make your elevator pitch early and provide a CTA. While businesses targeting an older population may be able to get away with creating a longer video, 30-seconds is the maximum length of a News Feed video ad.  

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Instagram Local Business Profiles

According to SOCi’s 2019 State of the Market report, Q1 of 2019 saw Facebook’s share of overall business pages fall while Instagram experienced an uptick in business pages. With Google+ being deprecated, more companies are focusing their marketing efforts on Instagram — the platform that gets 10x more audience engagement than Facebook.

Now, Instagram is making it’s app even more business-friendly.

 

The photo-sharing app recently began testing profiles for individual business locations. These are separate from business’ Instagram profiles. While this feature is only available for some users, there are a few known details; Instagram automatically creates these profiles for business, and the profiles include a button where businesses can claim their profile and presumably edit the information. The profile includes the business’ address, hours, URL, as well as the three most recent posts to appear on the business’ Instagram account.

The information on Instagram’s local business pages is likely — though not definitively — pulled directly from Facebook, which owns Instagram. It’s unclear, however, how this will affect multi-location businesses. WIll Instagram pull each location’s information from individual Local Facebook Pages, or from the corporate Brand Page? Multi-location marketers should keep an eye on this update as more information becomes available, but optimizing Facebook Local Pages now will ensure you’re ready if Instagram rolls this feature out to all businesses.

First, claim all your Facebook Local Pages and connect them to your main brand Page account. This will allow you to clean up rogue content such as incorrect store hours, addresses and unflattering photos. Next, begin posting localized content on these pages to fill in the gaps. Examples include an up-to-date logo for your page, high-quality photos of your business and products, and responses to any reviews that may be posted on your page. If your Facebook Local Pages are up to date, your Instagram pages should be accurate as soon as they become available.

Google My Business Follow Button

Most people don’t think of Google as a social media platform, especially with the depreciation of Google+ earlier in 2019. Although Google’s first foray into the social space didn’t pan out, the search giant is doubling down on Google My Business — a business-only platform that helps customers find information about businesses on the search results page or in Google Maps.

The word ‘Follow’ is commonly associated with social media, and Google has recently given users the ability to follow businesses on Google Maps. Users can tap ‘follow’ on the business’ Google My Business profile to receive updates from the business. Businesses should set up their Google My Business page, and share updates to reward the loyal consumers who follow the page. Google Posts and Google Q&A are two features that marketers need to be updating frequently. Google Posts appear alongside your business’ Knowledge Panel in search results and can be used to share upcoming events, promotions, and special offers. Google Q&A is a crowd-sourced question and answer section that gives consumers the ability to ask and answer questions about local businesses. However, business owners can pre-populate the Google Q&A section with common questions and answers, which is one way to control how your business appears in search results.

More Facebook Algorithm Changes

Much has been made of Facebook’s early-2018 algorithm change, which emphasized and showed users content including interactions with friends and family over business Pages. For businesses, this led to a sharp decline in organic reach. Some business can’t reach more than 1 percent of their followers with organic posts. According to the SOCi 2019 State of the Market report, even businesses receiving high levels of engagement can’t reach more than 10 percent of their followers. Now, Facebook is making changes to further reduce the number of “click-bait” style posts that don’t earn meaningful engagement.

Facebook is sending out user surveys to find out which content is worth users’ time, and which isn’t. When announcing the change, Facebook claimed, “We’ll be updating News Feed to show people links we predict they will find worthwhile.” As Pages that distribute click-bait content see their reach decline, Pages that produce quality, engaging content will see their reach increase.

Multi-location businesses can ensure their content maintains high levels of reach by posting more localized content on Local Pages as opposed to Brand Pages. According to a research report created by SOCi and the Local Search Association, 72 percent of brand engagement happens on these Local Pages. The aforementioned State of the Market report reveals that some types of local content performs better than others; entertaining posts and inspiring posts are the two most-shared types of content, followed by posts that teach and posts that offer a discount. Marketers can put these insights to use by posting content like an inspiring local story, or an instructional post about using your business’ product or service.

The aforementioned features are emblematic of two emerging trends in social media; prioritizing meaningful engagements and blurring the line between search engine and social platform. Google is giving consumers the ability to become a loyal follower of their favorite local businesses. Facebook is restricting the reach of Pages that post meaningless content, and shifting their focus to video-first. Instagram is giving consumers the ability to find location-specific information about businesses with a Google Knowledge Panel-like business page.

The Google and Instagram features listed above are free and easily accessible, and should be a part of any localized social media marketing plan. Additional steps include claiming and managing your Local Facebook Pages, removing and editing any rogue content that may be on those pages, and creating an overall localized social content strategy. Local content strategies leverage the power of corporate resources while still implementing local expertise. While the owners of individual franchise locations may not have time to develop social media strategies and content, they do have valuable insights into the local consumers who come into their stores every day. Additionally, they are often better equipped to handle review response and create meaningful engagements with their local consumers.

Building a social content strategy that leverages the power of local can help your brand build a powerful presence in each local market your company serves. By taking advantage of the new features above — and updating your presence on existing features like Facebook Local Pages — you can ensure your brand is well-represented at both the local and national level.

Download SOCi’s State of the Market report to see how these new features align with industry trends

 

 


The State of Social: The Power of Organic AND Paid Content

Social media has become a significant part of the consumer journey, and is now the second biggest customer acquisition source, behind only referrals. In response to this trend, social platforms are empowering businesses with new features to engage customers and create brand ambassadors on a more personalized local level.

These new social features and functionalities include reviews, recommendations, social conversations, and local business Pages that fuel the marketing strategy known as localized social marketing.

SOCi utilizes proprietary data to compile a report detailing how consumers engage with businesses on a local level. That data comes to life in the latest State of the Market, created using SOCi platform data between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019.

The report helps marketers identify patterns, determine trends and share best practices in building a localized social marketing strategy. First, a quick primer on why localized marketing matters, who is using it and how to measure successful engagement at the local level.

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Why does localized social marketing matter?

The importance of localized social marketing cannot be overstated. Local reviews affect SEO, purchase decisions and allow local businesses to remain relevant in a digital era while competing with online and offline retail giants.   

As part of social media’s continued evolution, consumers are liking, sharing, and reviewing businesses in their community. Those local reviews matter; research shows that 52 percent of consumers have passed up a business because it didn’t have, “enough stars.”

New locally focused features —such as Facebook Local Pages — give consumers the ability to review and engage with the businesses nearest them. Multi-location marketers can create one Facebook Business Page for the overall brand and individual Local Pages for each business location. These Local Pages earn twice as many impressions as corporate Brand Pages and nearly 72 percent of all user engagement on Facebook.

Who is already using localized social marketing?

The State of the Market report reveals that localized social marketing is most popular with multi-location businesses in real estate, finance, home services and other service-related industries that rely heavily on local brand presence and reputation as key differentiators in-market.

Facebook is the dominant platform for localized social marketing, largely due to the fact that Facebook gives multi-location businesses the unique ability to create multiple Local Pages in addition to a corporate or Brand Page.

However, other networks are joining the localized movement. Google has invested in new local-focused features such as Google Posts and Google Q&A. Instagram is also testing localized marketing capabilities with new in-app local business profile pages — a feature that’s not yet available to all users. Across all platforms, marketers can localize content in order to drive engagement from local consumers.

What kind of local content drives engagement?

Not all engagements are created equal, and marketers must differentiate between high-value and low-value engagement. Facebook’s 2018 algorithm changes limited the reach of content that receives low-value engagement such as likes or reactions. Localized content, which is relevant to the audience around each business location, receives more high-value engagement such as comments, replies, and shares. Data from the State of the Market report shows that marketers are catching on; high-value engagement is up 30 percent quarter-over-quarter.  

The localized marketing movement is being fueled by consumer preferences and new social media features. Whether it’s through organic posts or paid social campaigns, businesses are getting consumers through the door by targeting them at the local level. By creating a social strategy that’s aligned with the trends in localized social marketing, multi-location businesses can build brand loyalty in every community the business serves.

Download the State of the Market now and see how your local social strategy compares to industry trends.

 


Social Advertising Update: 4 Things Property Managers Need to Know

While social media is a powerful tool for multifamily marketers, it requires constant vigilance to remain on the cutting edge of the paid social space. What worked last year may not work now, as new features emerge and renter preferences evolve. One thing remains true; renters love using social media to find apartments and 43 percent of consumers say they’re likely to interact with an apartment community on social media.

We’re still in the first half of 2019, but multiple new features have already emerged that multifamily marketers must be aware of. Below, we highlight four updates that can help your multifamily management company invest social media dollars wisely.

Dynamic Images and Ad Copy

For property management companies with large portfolios, it can be difficult to create tailored ads for each property, at-scale. Some management companies hire an agency to create each property’s ads, which can be costly and time-consuming if each property in the portfolio is billed separately. Other management companies may let individual properties create their own ads, but this approach fails to leverage the resources at the corporate management level.

With dynamic images and text — a feature provided by SOCi — property management companies can create one set of Facebook Ads that update with property-specific photos and dynamic text which changes based on the property’s address, city, or neighborhood. This streamlines the localized ad creation process, allowing management companies to maintain corporate oversight while still empowering properties with local ad campaigns.

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New Video Ad Reporting Metrics

Facebook users pay attention to video ads for 5x longer than they do static ads, and marketers are taking notice. In 2018, nearly ¼ of all U.S. video ad spend was spent on Facebook. Now, Facebook is giving marketers more insights into how users watch videos.

The new Facebook Video Performance Card reveals how long users watched your video, whether or not they reached the part of the video that contains your key message, and the viewing times for different segments of the video. For instance, 50 percent of views might reach the first 10 seconds of your video before clicking away, with just 25 percent of views reaching the 20-second mark. You can use this information to optimize your creative. What is it about the 10-second mark that causes 25 percent of viewers to stop watching?

Different Ad Objectives for Different Properties

Facebook ad objectives allow you to optimize ads for specific goals. For property management companies, some useful ad objectives include:

Multifamily companies with a diverse portfolio of properties may want to consider setting different ad objectives for each property. A social media advertising tool like SOCi allows management companies to create one ad — updated with dynamic images and text for each property — with different objectives for each location. Here are a few examples:

Another News Feed Algorithm Update

Facebook’s latest algorithm update specifically changes the potential reach of organic content, but in doing so creates even more of a need for multifamily communities to use Facebook Ads.

Facebook will now be surveying users to find out which content they find to be most engaging. For Business Pages, this means that click-bait organic content will see a decline in reach if the audience doesn’t respond favorably. If your page’s organic content isn’t seen as engaging, you could experience a decline in organic reach. In the aftermath of Facebook using these new signals to determine which posts appear higher up in the News Feed, there are now two ways to reach your audience;

  1. Create more engaging content.
  2. Use Facebook Ads to ensure your message reaches your audience.

Option A is difficult to achieve. While your properties’ Pages must continue to post organically in order to maintain a social media presence, it takes a specific content strategy designed to elicit engagement to even reach 10 percent of your Page followers. Facebook Boost should be used in conjunction with an organic approach in order to maximize the reach or organic posts that do perform well.

Option B is more straightforward. Facebook Ads are unaffected by News Feed algorithm changes, can target specific audiences of people who are looking for apartments, and — according to 30 percent of marketers — offer the best ROI among digital advertising platforms.

The complexities of property management marketing create the need for a localized approach to social media advertising. Even if a management company has both the time and resources to invest in ads, those ads will only be effective if they’re created with the individual properties in mind. A social advertising tool like SOCi can help property management companies integrate local expertise and deploy 100s or 1000s of ads from a single platform.

Discover how SOCi helps property management companies realize the power of local

 


Social Media Mistakes That Might Be Costing Your Franchise

Social media is a relatively new marketing tool, and some industries are figuring it out faster than others. Franchise businesses are especially vulnerable to social media pitfalls, as each location requires its own thorough and strategic online presence. While they may be more vulnerable than other types of businesses on social media, multi-location marketers also have the power of local on their side. These businesses can maximize their impact in each community they serve by leveraging the power of localized social media marketing tools to empower franchisees at the local level.

Before franchise marketers can leverage the true power of local, they must analyze their existing digital presence to clean up mistakes that lead to poor reviews, inaccurate business information, and low engagement levels on social media. Below, you’ll find four mistakes that are common but fixable with the right social media and reputation management tools.

Mistake #1: Talking without listening

Social media gives businesses unprecedented audience targeting capabilities, but it also gives consumers the power to react and respond. Through social, you can obviously use every paid tool in your digital arsenal to push your message out to consumers. However, the difference with social and reviews, compared to other traditional marketing tactics, is that your audience can talk back, and be the one who initiates those conversations. Users can start a 1:1 conversation with a business through social using direct messages, messenger bots or posting reviews and recommendations that shape public opinion regarding your business.

Social conversations provide businesses with valuable feedback, and this is especially true of Facebook Local Pages. According to a research report created by SOCi and the Local Search Association, 72 percent of all audience engagement on business pages happens on Local Pages. Every national franchise brand has a Brand Page plus individual Local Pages for each franchise, but it’s the Local Pages where consumers are interacting with businesses and creating those 1:1 conversations.

As a marketer, you should respond to feedback and join the conversations that help you connect with your consumers on a more personal level. At worst, you’ll better understand how consumers see your business. At best, you’ll earn new brand ambassadors who appreciate your authenticity and communication.

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Mistake #2: Failing to adjust to the data

Few marketing methods deliver data as social media does. Every organic post, Boost campaign, and advertisement is trackable, clickable, and adjustable. Whether you’re trying to sell a product or get foot traffic into your business, Facebook has tools to track the success of your marketing efforts.

Smart marketers adjust campaigns in response to data, and test variables to ensure the data is accurate. Audience targeting, CTAs, images and messaging are all examples of variables that should be A/B tested to find out which option receives the most clicks or engagement. The analytics might show that one CTA earned more clicks than another, or that one target audience engaged more with the content than another, but detailed data reveals deeper insights.

For instance, engagement can be a misleading statistic. Shares — along with comments and direct messages — are considered high-value engagements. Likes, reactions and retweets are low-value engagements, and don’t help organic reach. A post with 50 shares looks like it has the same number of engagements as a post with 50 likes, but since shares are high-value engagements that appeal to Facebook’s algorithm, the content with 50 shares is more likely to help your Page increase organic reach. In the eyes of social algorithms, not all actions are created equal.

According to SOCi’s Q1 2019 State of the Market report, organic reach can be as low as <1 percent of Page followers if your posts don’t receive high-value engagement, but as high as 10 percent if they do. The good news is that marketers are starting to catch on to this trend. In Q4 2018, just 14% of engagement was high-value. In Q1 2019, 44% of engagement was high-level. Marketers are posting more tailored, local content on each of their local business pages to encourage high-value engagement.

Mistake #3: Letting rogue content run wild

72 percent of brand engagement happens on Local Pages, but 100 percent of rogue content appears at the local level. Rogue content refers to unclaimed Facebook and Google My Business Pages, duplicate pages, or anything that includes incorrect logos, reviews without a response and inaccurate comments that the business hasn’t addressed. Non-official local pages pop up for a few reasons. In some cases, Facebook creates Local Business pages automatically if a user wants to review or check-into a business that doesn’t yet have one. In other cases, local franchise owners will create Local Pages for their businesses without connecting it to the corporate Facebook account.

Rogue pages with rogue content can harm a brand’s reputation, impact SEO and annoy potential customers.

To take control of rogue content, claim rogue Pages then respond to comments and reviews — Facebook calls them Recommendations — as quickly as possible. According to a research report created by SOCi and the Local Search Association, 40 percent of consumers expect a response within 24-hours, and 64 percent expect a response within a few days.  Despite these expectations, the report shows that 40 percent of businesses fail to respond within 24-hours. Consumers care about review response, and businesses that respond quickly can gain a competitive advantage in-market.

Mistake #4: Ignoring the pay-to-play movement

Facebook’s algorithm change led to a major decline in organic reach, and was the first step in social media’s movement towards a pay-to-play model for marketers. Facebook Boost and Facebook Ads are the first two pay-to-play features marketers should implement.

Social media marketers can use Facebook Boost to increase the reach and/or engagement of their social content. You’re already creating social content to post organically, but Boost will help you get more out of that content. SOCi’s research shows that Boost can lead to a 2000 percent increase in reach and a 500 percent increase in comments versus organic posts.

Boost should be seen as an enhancement to an organic social strategy. Facebook ads, on the other hand, are a different marketing tactic entirely.

Facebook ads help digital marketers drive a specific action through the creation and deployment of highly-targeted ads. Locally-focused tools like SOCi Ads PLUS are empowering franchise businesses to instantly promote ads to all Local Facebook Pages through a single corporate ad account or individual ad accounts. Features like dynamic ad copy and images allow franchise marketers to realize the full potential of social media advertising. Features like these are part of the reason why 59 percent of marketers plan to increase their use of Facebook ads in the future, and 30 percent believe it has the best ROI of any ad platform.

To recap, franchise marketers have to treat social media as a conversation, adjust to the analytics, clean up inaccurate information and invest in powerful tools like Facebook Boost and Ads. These social media best practices, when implemented across an entire franchise business, will help you build an impactful localized presence on all your business’ social pages.

Request a SOCi demo today and make your impact with localized marketing


4 Tips for Managing Your Multifamily Lead-Gen Channels

This is a guest post from Aaron Ramos, Director of Content at Knock — an award-winning CRM solution for multifamily property management companies. 

Attracting and converting a modern renter requires property managers to create a cohesive and on-demand communication experience. This means properly optimizing how leads can reach your community across all available engagement channels, and organizing how your team responds and manages larger volumes of prospect interactions. Response communications must be quick, thorough and widely accessible for prospects. The multifamily industry average response time hovers at around 39 hours — and if you are leaving your leads out in the cold, don’t be surprised when a competing property snatches them up.

Modern renters expect nearly instant response times and on-demand tools that allow them to schedule and book their own tours without having to interact with anyone. If you aren’t offering these conveniences to your leads, you are only making the leasing process more difficult for them and ultimately falling short on providing a top-notch customer experience.

Below, the Knock team discusses how to properly manage and optimize a few of the communication channels that are a vital part of any multifamily lead generation strategy — and why having a CRM is critical to managing those interactions.

Give the People What They Want!  


Personalized services, on-demand delivery, and one-click purchasing are changing the ways customers interact with brands and their expectations, but what do these experiences have in common? They put customer needs at the center of the experience design with the goal of delivering premium, differentiated service. As customers become increasingly more accustomed to the likes of Airbnb, Apple, Amazon and Uber, brands across all industries including multifamily property management firms must make the customer experience a priority.

More than 50% of renters prefer communicating with apartment communities via text [1]. An effective CRM should automate and provide renters the flexibility to transition from the traditional call and email entry points into text communication. By introducing the option to convert inbound calls into text conversations before they ever reach a third party call center, managers can significantly reduce the need for expensive call center solutions.

Texting has been shown to be significantly more efficient at converting leads to tours when a prospect is given the option to receive a text with real-time pricing and availability as well as a link to self-book their tour, which means that a community’s hottest leads can instantly convert to a self-booked appointment without ever needing to speak with an associate, 24/7.

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Get The Most Out of Facebook Messenger

 

As is with any chat interface, speed and immediacy are key. Prospects want to engage communities with the most direct methods of communication and that same principle holds true on social media channels. You can customize your Messenger settings to include automatic greetings, options, and responses. This can help you engage with prospects when they are ready, and gets the conversation off on the right start. With Messenger ads, you can conduct lead gen campaigns directly in prospects inboxes, adding another touchpoint to your social media marketing strategy.

Just offering prospects to contact you over Messenger isn’t enough. In fact, as is with all the channels we will be discussing, it can be potentially detrimental to leasing team operations if communications on the back end aren’t being properly organized and attributed. Integrating your CRM with Messenger is critical for operational efficiency and for proper attribution metrics to be recorded. With a Messenger-integrated CRM, no more logging into Facebook to manage messages — easily engage from the same screen you use to text, email, call, and live chat with prospects.

 

Think Big, Talk Local  


Collaborating with local businesses both IRL and on social is a great way to expand your brand reach and saturate your local market. Free coffee for a lease isn’t an equal trade, but free advertising in a place with high foot traffic is — or on a social media account with equal reach. Look for partners who will collaborate with you to cross-promote your current deals and referral offers in their establishments or on their social profiles. In exchange for unique coupons or discount codes for your residents, you can offer to include the partner company’s marketing materials in your new resident packets, distribute via your mass messaging resident campaigns, or even post them on your social media accounts. If tracked properly, you will be able to determine your CPL and determine if local collaboration is a viable supplemental marketing strategy.

Optimize Your Sphere of Influence(rs)

 

Optimizing direct communication with leads is always critical, but when managing your larger brand reputation and awareness; creativity and narrative management is key. With influencer trends moving in a more authentic and organic direction, now is a perfect time to look towards integrating micro-influencers into your community’s social media marketing strategy. The best part is, you don’t have to break the bank and you already have micro-influencers — your residents. Residents make perfect influencers, as their reach is both hyper-local and subject matter can be tailored to be highly organic. The basis of this strategy relies on the fact that you exponentially multiply your reach with every additional influencer — you are gaining exposure in their friend circle and getting more eyes on your content and community.

As you can see, multifamily communications are dynamic and span a variety of channels and operational strategies. No matter how or where you are interacting with prospects always remember these best practice principles:

1. Integrate any and all lead gen communications channels with your CRM.

2. Make it clear and easy for anyone to contact you — when and how they want.

3. Take control of the larger narrative and think outside the box of 1-to-1 communications.

 


5 Challenges Multifamily Companies Face with Local Facebook Ads

Property management companies have to approach social advertising from two angles; at the management company level and at the local property level. Ads have to follow the brand standards set forth by the management company while still speaking to the local renters around each property.

Localizing an ad campaign means using property-specific information, location-specific events, and community-specific terminology.

Social technology has advanced to the point where localized advertising can now be managed from the management company level. Of course, implementing a new paid social strategy presents challenges. Below, we’ll explain how to overcome these obstacles, and what a successful localized ad strategy looks like for a property management company. Let’s get ready to get local.

Challenge 1: Finding a new approach to advertising

A centralized approach to ads — in which a corporate team or agency creates one overarching campaign for every property location — is a one-size-fits-all approach. Property management companies often settle for this approach because they don’t have tools with which to implement a more localized approach — one in which each property gets customized ads while the corporate management team maintains oversight.

When one agency or marketing team manages ads for 100s of properties, the result ends up looking generic. The ads show one image, target one audience and feature one message for every property. Localized Facebook ads, on the other hand, feature tailored messaging, property-specific imagery and custom location-based audiences — all while maintaining the look and feel of the property management brand.

Challenge 2: Understanding your local renters

No matter how many properties your portfolio has, all your renters are local renters. The people who walk into your leasing offices are members of the community around each property. Renters might choose a property because they recognize the management company, but they’re interacting with local team members and singing leases at individual property locations. Every ad should reflect the unique nature and personality of each community you serve.

Still, some marketing teams try to deploy Facebook ads across 100s of properties with one all-encompassing strategy. Instead, the corporate marketing team should leverage the local property team’s knowledge, perhaps even empowering them to develop their own ads to submit to corporate for approval. When property managers provide input on local social media advertising campaigns, it provides the national marketing team with on-the-ground insights that lead to better-localized ads.

Challenge 3. Balancing the relationship between corporate and local teams

Most property management companies are structured so that the corporate team has an abundance of resources with which to develop strong marketing campaigns. At the property level, however, teams are often more focused on day-to-day operations. Property managers often don’t have time to learn Facebook Ads Manager or develop ad campaigns, so management companies handle it at the corporate level or through an agency.

Using technology from Facebook and SOCi, corporate teams can develop localized ad campaigns that leverage the power of the management brand while still being tailored to renters at the property level. Promoting the management brand with national campaigns can help raise brand awareness overall, but promoting individual properties through localized ads can further promote the properties in each community.

Property management companies sometimes struggle to implement a localized strategy because the corporate teams don’t interact with local renters; they don’t live in the communities where each property is located. Corporate teams must overcome this obstacle to create content that’s relevant to the renters who visit the property. The solution comes in the form of a hybrid marketing management model, in which the property managers and corporate team work together to create the most effective online presence possible on the national and local levels. The corporate manages the management brand’s social media presence, while property managers oversee individual local pages and local content.

This hybrid model works because local property managers shouldn’t have total control over their ad campaigns; the corporate team knows the management brand better, understands best practices for social advertising and can develop templated messaging and imagery. However, the local property manager knows the individual markets and should be trusted to provide input and add the local spin. Leave the broad strokes to the corporate teams, and let the local property managers fill in the local details.

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Challenge 4: Protecting your brand’s authenticity

Brand authenticity refers to the public perception of your brand. If your brand is authentic, it means the public sees your brand as reliable, respectful and real. 63 percent of consumers deliberately choose authentic brands over others. That means that 63 percent of renters will only choose your properties if they perceive your brand to be genuine. If you create ad content without localizing it, you’re creating content that is generic, rather than authentic.

Authentic brands are true to their values, which is why some management companies are so reluctant to allow local property managers to post their own content or create their own advertisements. This approach leaves room for local property managers to change the brand — intentionally or not. That’s why it’s so important to structure the ads strategy so that the corporate teams maintain oversight while still empowering local teams.

Challenge 5. Creating ads with property-specific information

From a digital standpoint, property management companies should put the most accurate information online regarding their locations. This can be accomplished with dynamic text and images features, which insert property-specific information into each ad campaign.

Why use a generic picture of your management company’s properties when you could use a picture of the actual property that each local renter will be visiting? As for the ad messaging, why tell renters to “find a property near you” when you could tell them the exact address of the property nearest them?

This localized approach works because audiences feel as though the company is speaking directly to them. One example of this is We Work, the remote workspace provider.

WeWork’s localized ads were so successful that Facebook wrote a case study on the campaign. The ads use dynamic text to encourage the audience to “Book a Tour” at whichever WeWork building is closest to them. Because WeWork targeted the ads to people aged 27–54 in major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City and London, the dynamic text updated to show various addresses in each of those cities. The ads contain copy and imagery that is specific to a geographic location, and thus incredibly relevant to the user. That’s likely why this campaign resulted in WeWork seeing a 10x return on ad spend.

 

It’s hard to argue with results like that, and it’s now easier than ever for property management companies to shift to a localized paid social strategy. Social advertising tools like SOCi can help national management brands support individual property managers while protecting brand integrity and implementing a full localized ads strategy. Through the use of dynamic text, one ad campaign can be customized for 100s of properties with the click of a button.


Find out more about how SOCi helps property managers leverage the power of localization

 


The 3 Phases of Localized Social Marketing for Multifamily

A version of this article first appeared on Updater.

 

What are your goals for social posts? Most marketers look for engagement. In order for content to be engaging, it has to be relevant to each target audience. That’s why local content works — it engages local audiences by leveraging topics that are relevant to them such as news and events related to their neighborhood, city or state.

Savvy property managers can leverage their property’s neighborhood on social media to attract and retain renters, and localized social content is the tool with which to do this.

The three phases of localized social marketing are presence, care, and growth. Each one is dependent on the other. You can’t provide resident care without an established presence, and you can’t grow if you’re not prioritizing customer care.

 

Phase 1: Presence

Property management companies should have different goals for social media compared to other brands that sell goods and services. Most people who follow a property on social media are already residents of that property, which means goals should focus on building customer loyalty and helping to create a sense of community that gives residents a reason to renew their lease or refer their friends. Facebook is a good place to start creating your social presence.

Facebook has done an amazing job with their Business Pages for multifamily apartments. From the property’s Facebook Page, users can see floor plans, access the resident portal, read reviews, message a leasing agent directly, and see upcoming resident events. That’s more than most property websites offer, and it’s all in one place — on social, where your residents and potential tenants are already spending their time online.

So, how can you take advantage of this? The first step is to claim your Facebook Page and update all the information.

If you haven’t created a Facebook Page for your property, it’s likely that Facebook has done it for you already. Facebook creates these Pages if they don’t exist so that users can check in to the community and leave reviews. Problems arise, however, when these pages go unclaimed. Unclaimed pages can be filled with rogue content and inaccurate reviews that can damage your property’s online reputation. Don’t lose control of the narrative surrounding your property — go claim your Facebook Pages if you haven’t yet.

 

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Phase 2: Care

You can’t provide local customer care without paying attention to ratings and reviews. Every review is a piece of publicly available content that affects the perception of your property. Negative reviews impact public perception, but you can mitigate their effect by responding to every review that you receive. A research report created by SOCi and the Local Search Association shows that 89 percent of consumers express a willingness to change a negative review depending on how the business responds.

Response time matters too. The aforementioned research shows that 80 percent of reviewers expect to receive a timely response to their online reviews, comments and direct messages. Facebook has an entire system in place that rewards businesses for responding to direct messages in a timely manner; businesses that respond to 90 percent of messages within 15 minutes get a badge on their page that reads, “very responsive to messages.”

Google’s foray into social media, Google+, didn’t make much of an impact. However, Google has doubled down on the suite of features contained within Google My Business (GMB). That includes the Knowledge Panel, Google Q&A, Posts, and ratings and reviews. As with Facebook Pages, GMB pages must be claimed by the property manager so that they don’t collect rogue reviews and inaccurate information.

Property managers should answer any questions that pop up on Google Q&A and respond to reviews on GMB — two features that are prominently displayed when people search for your property. Information on Google is the first information people see when searching for your property, so it’s best to ensure it’s accurate and up to date.

 

Phase 3: Growth

Localized social content doesn’t have to be organic. Once you’ve established your presence and managed your customer care, it’s time to grow your localized social marketing.

Facebook Boost allows you to put money behind organic posts, turning them into ads that can reach a wider audience beyond just the people who like your Page. By paying to boost this type of post to a wider audience such as, “friends of people who like my page,” you can market specific floor plans at specific properties in your management portfolio. Social media management tools like SOCi allow you to boost multiple posts at once across different Pages — a feature you could use to promote five different floor plans at five different properties, all at once.

Boosting is often more affordable than advertising, but a strong localized social growth strategy should include a budget for ads to be displayed across Facebook and Instagram. Just make sure that you have specific objectives tied to the ad spend so you can track metrics, analyze reports and adjust accordingly.

For property management companies, the target audience is people who live in the communities around each of your properties. That’s why localized social content is the ideal tool with which to market multifamily communities. By starting with presence and continuing to care and growth, you can reach this audience at every stage of the leasing process — ensuring they have a positive, tailored experience with your local communities.

 

Discover how SOCi helps property managers reach local audiences

 


How Property Managers Can Unlock the Power of Localized Social Marketing

A version of this article first appeared on Updater.

Social media is an inherently measurable marketing method because of engagement metrics. Property managers can use these metrics to track the success of social media content — platform statistics show which tactics are working and which tactics need work.

Consider: Which posts are receiving comments? Which posts are being shared? Which posts sit out there with zero engagement? In terms of engagement, localized content has the greatest impact on social audiences. This is especially relevant for multi-location businesses.

Facebook gives multi-location businesses the ability to capitalize on the localized social trend — empowering marketers to create one Business Page for the corporate brand plus individual Local Pages for each business location. If we look at data pulled from the SOCi social media management platform, we see that 72 percent of audience engagement happens on Facebook Local Pages as opposed to Brand Pages.

Localized social content is especially important for property managers because a property’s location is often one of its key selling points. A recent survey showed that 81% of renters consider location is an important factor, with respondents in some markets saying it’s the most important factor.

Social media marketers are constantly hearing about the importance of posting “quality content.” That phrase doesn’t refer to high-resolution images or the well-written copy, though both of those are important. Quality content refers to content that provides value to your audience. Here are three examples of what that looks like for property management companies.

 

1. Posts about local resident events

Whether it’s a pool party with local food trucks or a happy hour at a nearby brewery, posting about these resident events helps build a sense of community at each property in your management portfolio. This content provides value to your followers, it’s shareable and it’s likely to receive comments from people tagging their friends to invite them to the event.

2. Updates about neighborhood events, festivals and restaurant openings

Your property’s Facebook Local Page can be a resource for followers hoping to stay up to date on everything happening in their community. It’s hard to cut through the noise on residents’ social media feeds, but these types of informative, current posts can help you grab their attention while giving them up-to-date information to share with their friends.

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3. Content that leverages local micro-influencers

You can harness the power of influencers without having to find a local Instagram celebrity.  Examples include highlighting the resident of the month, profiling a member of the leasing staff, and reaching out to local businesses to develop co-marketing partnerships. The resident, leasing agent and local business might not have massive social media followings, but they can share your post with the followers, likely local, that they do have and expand your base of impressions.

So, why does this kind of localized content work? One reason is that it carries with it a sense of exclusivity. You’re not showing your followers the same content that every other property page is showing. Each property’s page should be all about the neighborhood, nearby businesses, and local events that matter to that property’s residents. Of course, that content should also adhere to brand standards set forth by the property management company.

The best kind of localized social content approach includes a blend of property-specific content and management company content that has a local spin.

 

The Hybrid Model for Social Media Management

For property management companies managing a portfolio of dozens or even hundreds of properties, it’s imperative to develop a social media strategy that empowers local property managers while ensuring consistency and brand standards across the portfolio.

A decentralized model requires that each property manager post their own social content without corporate oversight. A centralized model requires that the property management company handle social media for every property in the portfolio without input from the local property managers. Neither model achieves the goal of combining brand standards with local input, but a hybrid model does.

Using a hybrid model of localized content requires coordination between the local property managers and the social media managers at the corporate level. The advantage of this model is that each property gets localized content that also has consistent branding and messaging that’s been approved by corporate.

When done well, a localized strategy can be implemented across a property management portfolio — giving each property the ability to create customized content while still adhering to brand standards that come from the corporate management level.

Developing a social media strategy goes beyond the structure by which you create content and approve posts. It extends to the goals that you’re trying to achieve for each phase of your localized social marketing.

 

Find out how SOCi can help you achieve your localized marketing goals