Localized social marketing (LSM) drives increased traffic and sales to local businesses. But, what are the benchmarks for success? What does LSM mean for marketers? And what can marketers take away from brands that are doing LSM well?

What is LSM and Why Does It Matter?

Now more than ever, localized social marketing is a key driver in consumer behavior. After all, 78 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by social content, and more than 75 percent of brand engagement is happening on local pages. Further, consumers now consider ratings and reviews as the number one influence on their purchases — 71 percent of consumers read reviews before every purchase, and this increases to over 80 percent for consumers ages 18-35. 

What these consumer behaviors and the key findings from the Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report make clear, a localized social marketing strategy needs to be a core component of any franchise brands’ overall marketing strategy. 

As a part of this content series, SOCi sat down with brands that were recognized as leaders in the LSM space, and asked a series of questions on their strategic approach to LSM so other marketers can learn best practices from the brands that are excelling! 

Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Download Callout

Crunch Fitness was recognized as a top 10 brand in the 2019 Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report. Crunch was recognized for its performance in LSM, in the form of brand’s localized presence, customer care (in the form of local ratings and reviews) and local community engagement across the top localized social marketing platforms – Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp.

Crunch Fitness: A Multi-Location Brand Excelling at a Hybrid Approach to LSM 

According to their website, Crunch is a multi-location franchise gym that believes in making serious exercise fun by fusing fitness and entertainment and pioneering a philosophy of, ‘No Judgments.’ Aminta Iriarte, Social Media Manager for Crunch Fitness, answered the following questions on the brand’s best practices for LSM. 

1. What does the term “localized social marketing,” mean to you as a marketer?

Localized social marketing means getting super local on social and giving people specific information that is relevant to them. Depending on where you are in the world, you’re going to want to see different types of content from the brands or franchises that you follow on social media. It is imperative for brands to recognize this, and provide the specific types of information that they want to see or engage with. 

Crunch Fitness - Profiles and Pages Overlaid onto Screens 12. Considering the above, do you see localized social marketing (LSM) as a key area of focus in your marketing mix today? Why or why not?  

LSM is absolutely a key area of focus for Crunch. We have more than 300 locations worldwide. So, when we post something from corporate headquarters in New York, it may not be relevant to someone who is a member of our club in Chambly, Canada. So, localizing that content to each community we serve helps increase the relevancy, likelihood for engagement, and ultimately, the probability of a Crunch membership signup.

When we have someone that gets onto social and visits our gyms’ local pages on Facebook, Yelp, Google My Business, or Instagram, they need to see location-specific imagery and content. On social, it is important for the users to see photos and posts from the actual club, so they know exactly what to expect when they sign up for a membership. Without the concept of localized social marketing, we would be posting generic, corporate-branded content that is not necessarily representative of each club, or relevant to each local audience. 

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3. When thinking about the areas of LSM, which include local profile pages like GMB, review sites like Yelp and local social pages on site like Facebook – are these areas generally managed or maintained centrally by corporate marketing, decentrally – meaning these assets are managed at the individual local or franchise level or a hybrid of the two?

At Crunch, we have a hybrid approach to LSM. At corporate, we post multiple times on the local social pages for the franchisees, which includes more generic, branded content. However, we also give the local club owners the reins to post, since we do realize how important localized content is. 

With this hybrid approach, we have encountered some challenges with consistency. Some club owners just get it – they post club-specific imagery and create content that is engaging for their local audiences. But other franchisees have required a bit more assistance from corporate – they either don’t have a marketing background and find social media to be intimidating, or are too focused on the day-to-day operations, and can’t spend time maximizing their presence on their local pages. 

At corporate, we have tried to work with these club owners to foster the relationship, showcase best practices, and empower franchisees with tools to create and manage the content. 

Crunch Fitness - Profiles and Pages Overlaid onto Screens 44. Based on the above-mentioned management approach, what do you think is working really well in your LSM program?

Franchisees feel empowered in creating their own content, owning their reputation, and owning the brand – and some of them thrive off of that. Which helps local owners feel proud of their work in the digital space. The franchisees are able to be a part of the well-established Crunch brand, but add their spin to it while maintaining a positive online reputation. 

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5. Based on the above-mentioned management approach, what are some key challenges or issues you are facing in your LSM program? 

There are some challenges with our hybrid management approach. Some franchisees don’t have the time or the knowledge to dedicate to building a well-rounded localized social marketing presence and reputation. They’re too focused on the day-to-day management of the club, and they sometimes fail to see the correlation between the digital reputation management and the selling of memberships. Social doesn’t have to be a hard sell, but a lot of the local organic content tends to be focused on selling. Most of the time, our followers are already our members – so they don’t need to be sold to. Breaking that sales-only mentality has been difficult, though not impossible. While we do supplement with paid social ads, organic should be more focused on building community and providing excellent customer service.

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Additionally, we have experienced challenges with creative. Local imagery is key to a localized presence for the clubs, but sometimes we’ve seen low-quality, blurry images posted to local pages. When it comes to other creative, at corporate, we will make it for them, but there is a turnaround time. Some franchisees aren’t planning out their content calendars in advance, so rather than waiting for corporate to create something for them, they pull an image that is not high-quality or on-brand. 

Crunch Fitness - Profiles and Pages Overlaid onto Screens 76. If you had to select a social or review platform that is the most impactful for your franchise, which would you choose and why?

This is so tricky! In Google, we trust. But especially after watching the presentation at the LSM Social Marketing Benchmark Report Reveal Event, I lean toward Google because of their localized social marketing capabilities. However, for our franchisees, their Facebook audiences are so engaged. So, for our brand, Google is everything, but for our local franchisees, Facebook reigns supreme. 

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7. Are you currently leveraging localized ads in social to supplement your LSM efforts?  Why or why not?

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At the corporate level, we work with an agency for our digital ads. We manage all creative in-house and strictly work with the agency on managing and executing the campaigns. 

Most of our digital ads focus on lead generation, and we reach our prospects by targeting lookalike audiences, followers of our competitors, and interests. Additionally, we have localized ads for certain clubs that are hosting local events or posting about club updates.

8. If there is one learning or pitfall you have learned through your LSM efforts that you would like to share with other marketers, what would that be?

The number one learning for other marketers is to listen to your franchisees. One good example is that we were previously using a tool for reputation management that was made for marketers. While it had a lot of data our team was excited to have, our franchisees found it difficult to use. There was just too much information, the tool was too robust, and overall, the experience was not user-friendly. In multi-location businesses, you have to remember that franchisees are not inherently marketers. That’s not how they’re typically wired. So, give franchisees something they can actually use, and they will be more likely to use it. 

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The Report

The Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report (LSM Benchmark Report) is a collaborative research project conducted by SOCi and the Local Search Association (LSA). The report was designed to help marketers understand the impact of LSM to their respective businesses while providing good examples of what effective LSM looks like to help set a benchmark of success for practicing marketers. The project examined the top franchise brands and their performance in LSM and concluded the top 10 brand performers are growing three times faster than their category peers based on a 5-year trend of each brand’s revenue growth rate.

Download the Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report to learn how LSM drives revenue


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