SOCi Launches New Portal to Enhance Customer Experience

Digitally savvy consumers are changing every aspect of modern business, and as a result, the world of customer experience is shifting. In today’s digitally connected environment, customers expect immediate access to resources and quick responses to their questions and needs. In fact, customer experience is pacing to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator by 2020. That’s why 86 percent of buyers are willing to pay more for better customer support.

Furthermore, customers are showing that they want to be empowered with self-service options to find their own answers. Fifty percent of customers think it’s important to be able to solve product or service issues themselves and 70 percent expect a company’s website to include a self-service application. In response to these emerging customer service trends, SOCi has made huge strides towards prioritizing customer service through our latest product update.

Introducing the SOCi Customer Success Portal — the go-to source for customer training, support, and updates.

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The Customer Success Portal includes the SOCi University all-in-one training center, self-service help articles, how-to videos, and FAQs in the extensive Knowledge Base, helpful community forums in the Discussions module, and the ability to submit a ticket to access SOCi’s technical support team. Learn more about each component of the product release below:

SOCi University

This is our all-in-one training center. Within SOCi University, you can register for self-paced training courses, attend live webinars, leave customer satisfaction feedback and more. Use it to become a SOCi expert and quickly get up to speed on the platform’s latest and greatest features.

Knowledge Base

SOCi’s platform users are empowered to find answers on their own through our Knowledge Base — a self-service help center that contains helpful articles, how-to videos and an extensive list of FAQs.

Discussions

Join conversations with like-minded marketers through Discussions on the Customer Success Portal. This is our community forum for updates and tips about the SOCi platform. Through Discussions, you can start or become a part of existing forums and find SOCi-related announcements regarding product updates, campaigns and news.

Stay up to date on social media trends and the latest SOCi news. Sign up today.

Submit a Ticket

Through our Customer Success Portal, you can connect with our all-star team to receive hands-on support. Submit a Ticket empowers SOCi users to get in touch with the support team, check the status of support tickets and resolve issues quickly.

It is our goal at SOCi to empower multi-location businesses with better ways to manage their holistic approach to localized social marketing. Part of that goal is to arm marketers with knowledge of — and the ability to maximize — the SOCi platform. Through our Customer Success Portal launch, we’re accomplishing exactly that. The Customer Success Portal is available within the SOCi dashboard immediately — at no additional cost — for customers with a SOCi login.  For more information on the Customer Success Portal and how this helps multi-location businesses get the most out of SOCi, request a demo today!

Also, check out the release published on PR Newswire.


SOCi Launches Reputation Insights

Reviews are now the primary factor consumers consider when deciding whether to do business with a company or to pass it up for more highly rated options, according to our research report. As a result, it is critical for companies to take a more proactive approach to managing and maintaining a positive online reputation.

It is our goal at SOCi to continue to empower multi-location businesses with improved ways to monitor online reviews. As the world of online reputation management continues to evolve, it is no longer acceptable for businesses to just respond. Consumers want 1:1 communication with multi-location brands, and reviews are the preferred method of that personalized communication. To proactively manage an online reputation, brands and businesses need to find the root cause(s) of consumer dissatisfaction and address these issues immediately – hopefully, prior to bad reviews being posted.

SOCi has released SOCi Reputation Insights, comprised of sentiment and competitive monitoring. SOCi Reputation Insights is designed to help multi-location marketers identify and manage emerging sentiment and competitive trends from online reviews while analyzing shifts in online reputation over time. Multi-location businesses that leverage SOCi’s powerful technology platform to manage their online reputation can now benefit from the following new functionalities:

Reputation Sentiment


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With SOCi’s new Reputation Sentiment tool in the Reputation module, users can now identify, quantify, and extract frequently used keyword themes in their online reviews at a national and local level – across all connected review sites. This new feature 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. Here are the top two features of Reputation Sentiment update, and how your business should use them:

1. Word Cloud

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What is it?

At a glance, SOCi users can use the word cloud to display up to 100 clickable keywords to gauge which words are used most frequently and the sentiment of the reviews that use these words. Keywords are displayed in different sizes to reflect their frequency. Additionally, the sentiment of the words is color-coded – positive sentiments are represented by green, negative by red, and neutral by grey.

How to use it.

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When you hover over a word in the word cloud tool, it will turn yellow. Users can easily click on a specific word for more in-depth analysis such as the top five positive and negative adjectives used when the word was mentioned or any review that includes the selected keyword. Additionally, users can even respond to those reviews right from this module; preventing the back-and-forth between other modules within the SOCi platform. For instance, if you own a brewery franchise and the word ‘food’ is in ‘green,’ you can click to receive further insight on the reviews including the word ‘food’ and why the sentiment is positive. This will empower users to identify relevant keyword trends and better address their customers’ needs.

2. Sentiment Trends

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What is it?

Users can filter review sentiment data by date, network, and rating (star ratings and Facebook recommendations) in the top menu of the Sentiment module.

How to use it.

Once you filter your reviews, a sentiment trend chart shows the percentage of positive, negative, and neutral keywords over time. With this, users can apply date filters and view changes in sentiment across any of their connected review sites over a given timeframe. For example, if the franchise brewery owner sees a spike in negative sentiment, they can use the custom dates filter to drill down and see when the issue occurred.

Stay up to date on social media trends and the latest SOCi news. Sign up today.

Reputation Competition

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With SOCi’s new Reputation Competition tool in the Reputation module, users can now analyze their competitors’ online reputation at the local level – without any time-consuming manual research. They can quickly and easily identify areas for opportunity in their local market, see any reputation trends across similar brands or businesses, and discover ways to set themselves apart from the competition. Here is the top feature of Reputation Competition update, and how your business should utilize it:

My Competitors – the Competitor Dashboard

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What is it?

The top bar in the Competition module represents the user’s Location stats. Then, using the interactive Google map or search fields, users can select and analyze up to four local competitors based on the category of business, keywords, or business name, which appears below your location’s high-level stats. Once a competitor is added to their dashboard, users will see their total reviews, reviews by network, average review rating, and average response time within 24 hours. From there, you can further break down each of these review categories to show how these statistics have changed over time, for both you and your competitors. Additionally, users can utilize the pie chart in this module drill down on their top 5 keywords mentioned, including sentiment, for their Location compared to competitors’ locations.

How to use it.

Once you select four competitors on the dashboard, you’ll see a variety of metrics by which to compare. What is my reputation compared to local competitors? How long does it take for my competition to respond to reviews? How can I set my brand or business apart? These are questions local business owners need to be able to answer on the fly – and SOCi’s Competition module empowers them to do so.

By analyzing and comparing your online reputation to that of your competitors, you can have a more holistic view of where your strengths and weaknesses stack up, and how you can proactively make changes. For instance, if your response time is slower than your competitors, you can implement a review response guide to help your business better understand their local audience, and potentially improve the customer experience.

Reputation Insights is available immediately — at no additional cost — for customers who are leveraging reputation management within the SOCi platform. For more information on how to uncover deeper insight from online reviews and proactively manage your localized social marketing efforts overall, request a demo today!

Also, check out the release published on PR Newswire.


3 Takeaways from Facebook’s Phillip Rather at LSA19 – You Are Here: The State of Local

At this year’s LSA19 conference in Dana Point, CA, Phillip Rather, Head of Local at Facebook, explained in his session titled, “You Are Here: The State of Local” that Facebook is about more than just boxes on a page — they focus on business results and will be bringing this to both SMB’s and Enterprises in the following three ways:

#1 Relevant Recommendations

Rather spoke about Facebook’s investment in solutions that provide more personalization through scale. Rather went on to explain that while the market is moving toward automation, consumers are showing a preference for personalization. Recent research indicates that nearly three out of four consumers will pay a premium for a more personalized experience. One of the ways Facebook is looking to address this consumer trend of personalization is through its new dynamic ads unit. Through dynamic ads, a business can match the right products to the right person, at scale, and they’re empowering businesses to do this efficiently by using smart pixel tags.  

Stay up to date on social media trends and the latest SOCi news. Sign up today.

#2 More 1:1 Messaging

Rather talked about the growing use of messaging; 80 percent of adults are now using a messaging application daily. Rather further supported this stat by sharing that 58 percent of consumers prefer messaging over more traditional forms of communication when looking to gather information or correspond with a business. As a result, Rather stated that “messaging is now the new normal,” and messaging will now be an integrated feature in most of Facebook’s solutions, like Marketplace. The new messaging feature is even integrated into Facebook local pages. Facebook believes this is the fastest way to move users from interest to action, while also providing patrons with that 1:1 communication they most desire.  

#3 Better Connectivity

Rather noted that national to local marketing is more complicated than ever before, and urged conference attendees to spend time at the conference to create those meaningful connections that help tie together disparate marketing systems and channels. Rather spoke to these gaps by sharing the fact that between franchisees and agents, 74 percent have used Facebook Ads but less than five percent were using co-op for these ads. Rather elaborated on the growth of Workplace by Facebook and how large brands, like Starbucks, are using it to connect their entire organization, from corporate to the local level, with each individual store location.  

Rather ended the session at LSA19 by restating the power of bringing national and local marketing together to provide end-to-end solutions, while reminding conference attendees that in the end, the sum is worth more than the parts.

Download the Franchise Marketing Playbook for Localized Social Marketing to learn more about how you can leverage the power of local social for your multi-location business.

How to Get Started with Local Social: Common Management Models

It’s imperative for multi-location brands to have a localized social marketing strategy. Why local? Most brand engagement happens on the local level. Through a research study that we conducted in association with Local Search Association (LSA), we found that 72 percent of brand engagement happens on local pages.

In the newly released Franchise Playbook for Localized Social Marketing, SOCi is revealing everything you need to know about creating a localized presence, and maintaining your business’ reputation at both a franchise and corporate level.

How do you manage a localized social strategy? While there is no one size fits all approach, there are some common management methods that will enable a company to find a winning local social fit.

Below, we break down the benefits and challenges of the centralized, decentralized and hybrid social media marketing management models.

Centralized Social Media Marketing Management Model

A centralized model has the corporate office managing all aspects of a company’s online presence, from social media to review sites and search engines. Typically, the focus is on the national brand, but occasionally companies will create a local marketing program that is managed by corporate.

Pros

Benefits of the centralized approach include brand consistency, centralized reporting, and measurement. With this model, quality control is no concern, since the brand is managing all social efforts. This model also has simple workflows, making it easy to implement.

Cons

This method prevents a robust local presence and content strategy at scale. One team cannot effectively manage the volume of local pages and localized content. And without understanding the specific demographics and needs of a location it is impossible to create the most tailored and impactful local content.

Additionally, the centralized model limits the franchisee’ voice and overall control of their own business. This model can even exacerbate certain control issues that are sometimes present in the franchisee/franchisor relationship.

Stay up to date on social media trends and the latest SOCi news. Sign up today.

Decentralized Social Media Marketing Management Model

With a decentralized model, social marketing management responsibilities are taken from corporate and given to the individual franchisee. The bulk of social marketing management is left in local hands with minimal corporate oversight.

Pros

The primary benefit is the ability to create a truly local presence through localized content and conversations. Local managers and owners can post as they see fit, without a corporate process. Corporate franchise teams can also cut down on overhead and staff as most of this work will fall to the individual locations.

Cons

Without the supervision and oversight of the national brand, there is a greater possibility that local franchisees or their customers post rogue content that may reflect poorly on the brand as a whole. There will also be brand inconsistencies from location to location with varying activity levels on their accounts.

In regards to reputation management, franchisees may delay or completely ignore responding to customer care issues such as reviews or comments, decreasing the brand’s local and aggregate reputation scores. With the potential inconsistency of this program, there will be little to no data on the performance of this strategy and it will be difficult for corporate to measure success or optimize for further effectiveness.

Learn more about how SOCi is built for Multi-Location businesses.

Hybrid Social Media Marketing Management Model

In a hybrid model of localized social marketing management, the franchisor and franchisee work together to create the most effective online presence possible on the national and local levels. The franchisor manages the corporate social media presence, while franchisees oversee individual local pages and local content. With this aligned model, the national franchise brand provides a baseline amount of management for all locations. Local franchisees can opt into additional opportunities to further tailor the approach to fit the needs of their specific customers.

Pros

The hybrid strategy solves many of the challenges that centralized and decentralized models encounter, without sacrificing authenticity for consistency or vice versa. Overall, the hybrid approach boosts brand visibility, lead generation, conversion and repeat business systemwide.

Cons

The major challenge with a hybrid model lies in implementation. A truly efficient and effective hybrid strategy requires technology and a process to manage workflows, assets, and share results and performance. However, the overall benefits and gains far outweigh the initial upfront investment costs.

 

Now that you understand how to co-manage your local social marketing strategy at the franchisor and franchisee levels, it’s time to delve deeper into what a localized social strategy truly is, how to make it successful, and why it has untapped potential for national brands.

Download the Franchise Marketing Playbook for Localized Social Marketing now to unlock the power of social media marketing for your business.



The Franchise Marketer’s Guide to Getting Started with Social Media

Congratulations on your new franchise! You will probably receive some guidance on social media best practices from your franchisor, including what you can and can’t post. But you still need a little help getting started, don’t you?

This guidebook is designed to help you launch your social media marketing and establish local authority through the content you share.

Note: Before creating social media profiles for your local franchise, consult with your franchisor to understand what rules and regulations it requires.

Know Your Audience

Facebook. Instagram. LinkedIn. Snapchat. Twitter. Pinterest. With so many social media channels, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. However, the truth is: your specific audience probably spends more time on just one or two social channels, so rather than creating profiles (that you then have to manage) on all social media sites, do a little investigating to find out which channels will have the biggest impact.

Look at what other franchisees under the same brand are doing. Where do they have the biggest following and highest engagement? Facebook is appropriate for nearly every business type, but realize that you actually can have several Pages: the franchise likely has a Brand Page, and then you can create both a Local Page and a Places Page. Combining these two allows people to check in to your location, post a recommendation, and view content from you.

Stay up to date on social media trends and the latest SOCi news. Sign up today.

Get Your Tone Right

The tone of voice you use in all your social media marketing efforts (as well as all your marketing in general) should reflect your brand. If you run an office supply franchise, you’re speaking to a business audience, so your tone should be professional. But if you run a clothing franchise targeting teens, your tone can be more casual and youthful.

Make sure you use that same tone across all marketing channels to be consistent. And again, check with your franchisor because there may be brand tone guidelines or rules about what kind of language you can and can’t use.

Establish Your Visual Branding

What you say with words is just as important as what you communicate visually. Use franchise-approved logos consistently across all social media channels. Your franchisor may have provided you with an image library of the company logo iterations as well as professional shots of the brand’s products. These can be useful, but go beyond them to add a little local color to the images you post.

You could share photos of your employees, customers holding up their products, or participation in community events. For a franchise, it’s essential to find the balance between connecting to the bigger brand and having a local impact.

Include Local Information

Certainly, use boilerplates and templates from your franchisor to fill out your social profiles, but make sure you have all the local information people care about as well, including:

Learn more about how SOCi is built for Multi-Location businesses.

Share Localized Content

There are so many ways to promote your local franchise through social media. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

If you’ve started posting localized content across your pages, and you’re not receiving the level of engagement that you were expecting, consider throwing some advertising dollars behind a boosting strategy for your content. After the 2018 Facebook algorithm changes, brands had to dramatically shift their content sharing strategy to allocate funds to boosting and advertising on the platform. To learn more about “The Death of Facebook Organic Reach”, check out our on-demand webinar. And we’ve created a list of tips for better social boosting, here.

Set Your Policy for Responding to Comments, Reviews, and Questions

It’s important to realize that people now use social media as a tool to interact with a brand, and they expect a fast response from your franchise. Plan to monitor your accounts daily, so that you can quickly respond to any questions or comments a customer has, as well as reviews.

Especially if a review or Facebook recommendation is less-than-positive, you need to promptly apologize that your customer has had a bad experience and work to remedy the situation. Have a policy in place for how you respond to negative reviews. Will you offer a refund? Ask the customer to come back for a better experience? Having your policy established makes it easier to deal with reviews as they are published. Check out our guide on local reputation response for more tips on how to properly respond to reviews.

Leverage the Franchise!

Even if the franchisor doesn’t require you to get all social media posts approved by the company, you can leverage the fact that the franchise as a whole has already laid the foundation for great national marketing. You can always share content from the franchise’s Brand Page or profile to fill in your content calendar when you have a lull.

Reach out to the franchise if you have something you want to spread far and wide to see if the brand can post it to its national social media profiles. Your corporate franchise contact can be helpful if you have questions about what’s appropriate to post or want ideas beyond what we shared here in this resource.

Do’s and Don’ts of Franchise Social Media Marketing

Do monitor and/or post to each of your social channels, daily if possible. Don’t post content just to post something. Do carefully plan out the types of content you will share; it can be helpful to build a content calendar so all you have to do is look at it to know what you need to share on a given day.

Do work to build your social following; have a link to your social profiles on your site and invite people via email to follow you. Don’t pay for followers! It’s unethical and not all that beneficial to your franchise.

Do pay attention to insights and analytics to understand what types of content are resonating with your audience, then create more content with similar objectives. Don’t get overwhelmed by the data! Just look at what you care about: number of engagements or shares, or clicks to your website.

As a franchisee, you have vast opportunities to create the local social marketing conversation for your brand – utilize our guidebook, your knowledge of the local community, and your franchisor, and you’ll be well on your way to social media marketing genius.

Download the Franchise Marketing Playbook for Localized Social Marketing now to unlock the power of social media marketing for your business.



Review Solicitation: To Do or Not to Do…

As a marketer or a franchise, you know the value of getting customers to leave reviews on your franchise’s Google, Facebook, or Yelp page…only you may not be entirely sure how to do it.

You may have heard rumors that it is illegal to ask for reviews…is that true? How can you get customers to review your business if you can’t even ask them to do so? We’ve compiled a list of tips & tricks for your franchise to garner those reviews, without breaking the rules of each platform.

Setting Things Straight on Reviews

First of all, it isn’t illegal to ask for reviews. Each site that publishes user-generated reviews has varying degrees of what it encourages and frowns upon regarding how you get reviews.

Yelp is the strictest in how much it dissuades businesses asking for reviews in any form, while Google comes in at a close second. Google recently updated their review policy, which is designed to crack down on solicitation of reviews and opts instead for personal asks, which ultimately result in more honest and authentic feedback. Facebook dislikes mass soliciting for reviews in general (i.e., sending a mass email to all your followers asking for a review). Other review sites’ policies vary, and you should always check each site’s review guidelines before reaching out to customers for reviews.

Despite each review site’s guidelines, there is a massive difference between the term “solicit” and “ask” when it comes to a review.

When you solicit a review, you might be requesting a customer to leave a positive review in exchange for something like a discount or freebie. You can understand how this is unfair because it skews your reviews to be positive when they might not otherwise be.

When you merely suggest that a customer leave a review if he/she enjoyed her experience with your brand, you’re leaving the opportunity open. You’re not controlling the outcome.

Now let’s look at some right and wrong ways to ask for reviews.

Wrong Way: Sending a Mass Email

We’ve already discussed how this is the wrong approach, but consider this: 74 percent of marketers have seen increased customer engagement when they send personalized emails versus mass emails. Not only will you see fewer people actually leave a review if you send everyone the same request, but you might also turn your customers off and persuade them to unsubscribe from your emails altogether since no one likes feeling like just a number. Additionally, review sites frown upon this approach, and could negatively impact your presence on the platform if you mass solicit for reviews via email.

Right Way: Sending a Personalized Email After a Purchase or Other Customer Engagement

The key to getting reviews the right way is dealing with them individually rather than as a whole. Instead of sending everyone on your email list a request to review their purchase, send a personalized note. Even if you use an email marketing software, you can still customize fields so that you address the person by name and mention the product or service he/she recently purchased from your brand.

For example, after you shop at most beauty franchises, you will receive a personalized email linking to the exact products you purchased, and the franchise will encourage you to leave reviews of your products to help other customers in their buying decisions.

Stay up to date on social media trends and the latest SOCi news. Sign up today.

Wrong Way: Encouraging In-Authentic Reviews

When you offer a discount or something free, customers feel obliged to leave a review (it’s that Pavlovian response; do something and be rewarded), and that review might not be genuine. The incentive unevenly tips the scale towards more positive reviews. Also, realize that Yelp is cracking down on solicited reviews, and filters any that seem not to be authentic, so even if customers do leave reviews, they might never appear on your page.

Another review solicitation method that is frowned upon is review-gating, which is the process of filtering reviewers. If the customer had a positive experience, they will immediately be filtered to the review sites, and if the customer had a negative experience, it filters them to a customer service contact in an attempt to remedy the situation before it becomes a negative review. This process reduces the authenticity of all reviews and is discouraged by both Google and Yelp.

Right Way: Thanking People Who Have Left Reviews

Rather than incentivizing customers to leave reviews, try showing appreciation for those who have already left reviews. Sending a short, hand-written thank you note or even offering a discount after the fact can solidify your relationship with existing customers, who then may refer others to you via word of mouth.

Wrong Way: Making People Dig to Find Your Review Link

Asking a customer in your store to go home, search for your local brand page online, and then leave a review is asking a lot. Understand that most customers will forget your request as soon as they walk out the door.

Click here to learn more about how SOCi is built for Multi-Location businesses.

Right Way: Making It Easy to Review

On the other hand, having links to all your review channels easily accessible will increase the number of reviews people leave you. Include easy-to-find icons at the top of your website. Link to them on social media. Include them in the footer of all emails. Depending on the platform, you can send emails to your customers including direct links to your review sites, or a bulleted list of directions without the direct link.

There are offline tactics to increase your review base, too. For instance, having sign-ups at the register asking customers to leave a review, printing your review sites’ information on receipts or creating handouts to place in customers’ bags or boxes to promote your review sites.

Online reviews are the lifeblood of any business, particularly a franchise that needs to stand out from other franchise locations. Make sure you’re using the right techniques to garner reviews so that they help you grow your business.

Download the Franchise Marketing Playbook for Localized Social Marketing now to unlock the power of social media marketing for your business.

4 Keys to Ensuring Your Brand Has Local Authenticity Online

What does it mean for a brand to be authentic? Some say that means brands have to be perceived as reliable, respectful, and real. But how does your brand communicate that authenticity at a local level? How can you seem like not just another company who wants consumers’ dollars and show that you sincerely care about your local community and customers?

Online, your brand has ample opportunity to prove your local authenticity. Below find four essential ways to build local authenticity through your localized social marketing efforts:

1. Be a “Human” Business

It’s easy to feel like some corporations and brands are run by robots and not people; therefore, consumers have a hard time identifying with their messaging or content. Instead, showcase the diverse personalities of your employees through your social channels.

For example: if you have a few people posting updates on behalf of your business on your Facebook Page, have each one sign their name when posting. This personalizes your social shares and gives your consumers a point of contact if they have questions. Deploy the same strategy with the Messenger app on your Page.

Include photos of your staff (and maybe even the company dog) on your social profiles to inject even more personality into your page.

Also, actively engage with your audience! If you post a blog on your Facebook Page that gets lots of comments, be sure to respond. And encourage user-generated content by sharing your fans’ content to show that you’re paying attention, and you’re valuing their engagement.

Stay up to date on social media trends and the latest SOCi news. Sign up today.

2. Create and Manage a Local Presence

Did you realize there are actually two types of Pages for your company on top digital platforms like Facebook and Google? While your Brand Page is a great place to share branded blogs and content, it’s your Location Page that drives engagement with your local audiences (engagement is 2.5x higher than on your Brand Page, to be exact).

If you don’t create or claim a Location Page, these platforms will automatically create one for you when a customer tags the location or checks in. Therefore, the customer will be the automatic Page manager, not your brand. So, naturally, it’s better for you to create and manage that Page so that you can control the narrative, and you know when a customer checks in (hey, send them a “thank you” coupon!) or leaves a review.

3. Create Localized Content

When you post content at a local level, strive for an authentic voice to truly engage with useful, appealing, accessible and credible content. Create connections with people in your community through content.

As a franchisee or local business, it is easiest to start posting branded content that is localized to you. From there, create content that shines a spotlight on your community involvement, local events, and specials.

There is a massive push behind the “Buy Local” movement, so seize the momentum, and create a neighborhood feel for your location’s content. You can create an employee of the month profile, highlight hometown team sponsorships, offer local in-season specials that you know your community will love, and utilize local influencers to share your content to maximize reach.


Learn more about how SOCi is built for Multi-Location businesses.

4. Encourage and Manage Honest Reviews

While there are some policies you need to be aware of in regards to soliciting reviews, you can ask customers if they enjoyed their experience with your brand, and if so, ask if they would be willing to leave a review on Google, Facebook, Yelp or any other industry-appropriate review site.

If they leave a negative review, respond promptly, apologize publicly, and work to amend the situation. Through a research study that we conducted in association with Local Search Association (LSA), we found that 89% of consumers indicated a willingness to change a negative review, depending on the business’ response to their criticism. So proper reputation management can lead to a negative review reversal!

See our “Great Conversational Divide” research study for more review discrepancies that exist between customers and businesses.

For positive reviews, it’s also a good idea to respond quickly, thanking the reviewer for taking the time to share her feedback. Not only will this forge the bond with that particular customer, but it also impresses anyone else reading your business’ reviews.

Prompt response time is crucial – for both negative and positive reviews. Consumers are expecting a response to their online comments and reviews and a growing portion expect to hear back within twenty-four hours.

Authenticity not only drives sales, but it also keeps customers coming back again and again. In fact, 63 percent of consumers deliberately buy from authentic brands over others, so if you take the time to ensure that your brand is represented authoritatively and genuinely online, you’ll build a solid relationship with your audience.

Download the Franchise Marketing Playbook for Localized Social Marketing now to unlock the power of social media marketing for your business.



Franchise Marketer’s Guide to Local Reputation Response

Everyone in the world of local marketing, whether you’re a marketer, franchisee or franchisor, understands the importance of reviews for your business. And we’ve got the stats to back that notion up.

According to “The Great Conversational Divide,” a research report that we conducted with Local Search Association (LSA), we found that 66 percent of consumers said they perform research every time or almost every time before buying a product or service. We also discovered that positive online reviews are the most important purchase consideration versus other types of information or sources in a consumer decision.

But, did you know the importance of responding to those reviews? According to the same research report, we found that nearly 80 percent of consumers expect a response to their comments and reviews.  

So, the necessity to not only have reviews, but to respond to them properly is paramount for the success of your business. Here are tips for a successful local reputation response:

Always Respond

Our research revealed there is a huge gap between what businesses and consumers expect in relation to reviews.

20 percent of businesses stated they don’t respond at all to reviews, while 80 percent of consumers stated that they expected businesses to respond to reviews. The discrepancy here is huge.

When your business responds to a review, you’re letting the local community know that you’re listening, and their feedback matters to you. Plus, we found in our research study that 89 percent of consumers indicated a willingness to change a negative review, depending on the business’ response to their criticism.

So, always respond to every review. The response humanizes your brand, and builds trust with your customers, certain review sites and search engines, too. Google, for one, has confirmed that responding to reviews helps improve businesses’ local SEO.

Stay up to date on social media trends and the latest SOCi news. Sign up today.

Respond ASAP

Another cause for the discrepancy between brands and consumers when it comes to online reviews is response time. Through our research report, we discovered that 40 percent of businesses respond to reviews later than 24 hours…or, not at all. While more than three-quarters of consumers who leave critical reviews expect a business to respond, with 40 percent of those expecting a response no more than 24 hours after the review is posted.

We’ll get into how to respond in the next tip, but what you can take away from our data is to respond, and respond NOW. Deploying a review response strategy can help reduce your response times. This strategy can include assigning the responsibility of responding to reviews to various members of your team and utilizing software to track response times. This will help cut down on response time, so you can meet that ever essential 24-hour window.

With a reputation management tool, like SOCi, there are technological capabilities that empower you to track and respond to reviews across all sites in one, centralized dashboard. Through our platform, a corporate franchise marketer and/or individual locations can engage with customers across various social networks and review sites, in real-time. You can also assign and set time deadlines for review responses. Check out our website to learn more about SOCi’s platform features that help franchises manage and expedite the review response process.

SOCi’s platform capabilities allow you to control your online reputation and reviews for all of your locations from the convenience of one platform.

Tailor Your Responses

If your business is just getting started, you can create a list of templated responses for your team to utilize for common feedback, questions, complaints or simple star ratings without any written context.

Once your business is more established with reputation management, you should encourage every responder to personalize their responses. Personalization can be as simple as reiterating the reviewer’s concerns. This will showcase that you, as a business, understand the root of their concern, and you’re willing to take the necessary steps to improve.  

When you craft your replies, stay away from “cookie-cutter” responses. It reflects negatively upon your business if a consumer visits your review pages, and every response from your business is the same. If a customer takes the time to leave a review, it is always best practice to provide a personalized response.

Take the Conversation Offline

After you’ve mastered adding a touch of personalization to every response, consider taking some of those more difficult conversations offline.

In instances of more negative reviews, through your response, you can reiterate their concerns and provide customers with an offline way to give more details about the situation, so the issue can be addressed and resolved quickly with personal interaction. And when you’re providing those contact details, you should emanate empathy and effort into solving their concerns. You absolutely should stay away from encouraging your customers to provide all the specific details online.

After all, according to our research, 89 percent of consumers indicated a willingness to change a negative review, depending on the business’ response to their criticism. So, smart responses from a franchise can result in a negative review reversal.

Proactively Monitor Your Feedback

So, you’re monitoring reviews, responding quickly and appropriately, now what? Proactively monitoring your customers’ feedback for trends or commonalities, and making changes within your franchise to address those concerns makes you a local reputation management all-star. Depending on your review volume, create a monthly or quarterly audit of your customer reviews, and take note of anything that was addressed multiple times. Additionally, if you utilize a reputation management software, such as SOCi, you can regularly monitor terms and sentiments of reviews. This allows your business to proactively make changes to address concerns before you are asked.

By utilizing our guide to local reputation response, it puts your franchise or brand ahead of your competition. And by having a strategy for monitoring and responding to reviews, it can help franchises and businesses better understand their local audience, and potentially deliver improved customer experience.

Download the Franchise Marketing Playbook for Localized Social Marketing now to unlock the power of social media marketing for your business.

5 Social Media Trends That Will Take Over in 2019 & How to Prepare

As we jump into the second month of 2019, business owners and marketers should be finalizing their marketing plans for the year.

At the top of the priority list should be Social as it has become a major influencing factor in how people perceive your brand and make buying decisions.

In fact, 78 percent of purchase decisions are now influenced by social content1. And multi-location marketers should take note – social has gone local with as much as 75 percent of brand activity happening on Local Pages2.

So, what can bolster your company’s social media success?

Here are the five trends that should impact your strategy in 2019:

1. Reviews Reign Supreme

Reviews are the number one factor used in determining which business to visit and are also a top three ranking factor in local search results overall3 What are some review best practices and how can marketers capitalize on the power of reviews?

Businesses must obtain the ratings sweet spot – consumers expect between a 3.5- to 4-star rating to even consider your business3. Also, the more the merrier regarding review count. Consumers expect at least 10 reviews for this information to be credible3. So, deploy a personalized outreach strategy, and make it easy to find your review sites to obtain the number of reviews that consumers expect and the star rating that will persuade them to choose your business. And always respond to reviews because nearly 80% of consumers expect a response to critical reviews – 40 percent expect a response within 24 hours3.

2. Social Care… Just Responding is Soooo 2018

Ninety percent of customers state they would be willing to change a negative review depending on how the business responds3. However, responding alone is no longer enough. Reputation management now requires a strategic plan to garner positive reviews without mass solicitation, and to reduce negative reviews through proactive monitoring. Customer care is shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach. By monitoring feedback and analyzing trends, you can better determine the root cause of the negative reviews and can actively address them – hopefully prior to more bad reviews being posted.

Stay up to date on social media trends and the latest SOCi news. Sign up today.

3. Response Time… Nearing “Real Time”

Two out of five consumers now expect a response to their social comments, questions, and reviews within 24 hours…14 percent expect a response immediately3. And the top networks, such as Facebook, are taking notice and highlighting businesses who have fast response times. How can marketers decrease their response time to obtain the ever essential 24-hour window? You should set up a clear notification system within your business, develop processes to ensure you deliver acceptable response times and pre-plan responses to common questions.

4. Google… The Next Big Social Network?

Google is now doubling down on the success of Google My Business and has introduced Google Posts and Google Q&A. A Google Post is content that promotes a business’s announcement, offer, event, or product update. Just like Google My Business reviews, Q&As are crowdsourced by people — real people who ask questions with the expectation the business will answer their questions.

How do you leverage these new Google features? To begin, you must claim and actively manage your Google My Business pages. For Google Posts, the content only stays live for 7 days, so creating a consistent posting schedule is key. For Google Q&A, ensure prompt responses as the “Business Owner.” To help reduce response time, you will have the ability to pre-populate some of the most commonly asked questions with answers from your business.

5. The Death… of Organic Reach

With the recent platform updates, it is nearly impossible to obtain the same reach once achieved through your organic social efforts. A continued focus on optimizing your content and posts to increase higher valued engagements such as comments and shares will increase reach over time. In the short term, leveraging some of the social ad features, such as boosting, are a perfect solution to help increase reach and local community awareness and engagement.

So, what does all this mean? Social has gone from macro to micro in an effort for the networks to better capture the reach and engagement of local audiences. The next level of social care is moving from a reactive approach to a proactive approach. And due to the recent algorithm changes, a healthy localized presence now requires a mix of social content, care, and ads.

Our CMO, Monica Ho, delved into these latest market trends, why they matter for locally-focused social media marketing, and how you can take advantage.

View Webinar Now

Now that marketers know the social media trends for 2019, you can shift your marketing strategy to align with the increased focus on localized social media marketing. This approach will dramatically improve customer experiences and ultimately lead to increased business.

SOCi was built for marketers managing hundreds of locations.

1Source: SOCi Platform Data Q4 2017 – Q3 2018
2 SOCi and LSA: The Guide to Facebook Marketing for Multi-Location Brands
3 Source: SOCi and LSA: The Great Conversational Divide Study