The top social networks for local businesses are empowering business owners with the ability to connect with consumers on a micro level. Marketers are often drawn to digital because of its ability to reach a massive audience on a macro level, but more often than not, the most valuable connections are found in your own city or even your own neighborhood.
National multi-location brands have nationwide audiences, but it’s the local consumers near each business location — at the micro-level — that are most engaged on social media. According to a research report created by SOCi and the Local Search Association, 72 percent of consumer engagement with brands happens on local pages.
When big national brands first started using Facebook marketing, they blasted content out to people who followed the brand page. National brands could rely on their followers organically seeing and engaging with their posts. When Facebook changed its algorithm, however, it virtually eliminated the organic reach of posts from businesses. The real engagement is now happening on local pages. According to Facebook, the algorithm change reflects the company’s desire to, “prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.” The algorithm change achieves this goal by predicting, “which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and showing these posts higher in your feed.”
As a marketer for a multi-location business, you can create one Facebook Business Page for your overall brand, plus individual local pages for each of your business locations. If you don’t create those pages for your individual business locations, Facebook will create them for you in the event that a consumer initiates engagement by trying to leave a review or check into your location.
Engagement is hard to come by these days. The businesses that are still seeing engagement are the ones producing localized content on local pages. This is where consumers can leave reviews, ask questions, receive important store information, and keep up with local events or special offers happening at their local businesses.
Local consumers are the ones most likely to engage with each business locations’ content and tell their friends about your business. Your individual business locations live and die at the local level, so it only makes sense to create content that resonates with local consumers.
Your individual location pages won’t have as many followers as your corporate brand page, but the localized content on these local pages is likely to be more relevant to the fans who do follow along. Localized social marketing earns engagement, and engagement is everything. It drives leads, it serves as social proof for prospective customers, and it gets your business noticed. Engagement is so important, in fact, that Google and Facebook have made platform changes to reward businesses that earn local engagement.
Google rewards businesses that have many positive reviews by showing reviews on a business’ Google My Business page from across the internet. Now, reviews from sites like Facebook, OpenTable and Foursquare show up right next to your business’ name in search results.
This push towards localized features has a lot to do with the way search results work. If you search for coffee shops on Google — you’ll notice that the top three local results appear in a box at the top known as the “local pack.” The business information, store hours and phone number are displayed alongside the business name. Be sure to claim and manage your local Google My Business pages so that consumers get accurate information about your business when they find you in local search results.
On Facebook, people will see your posts if they’re receiving high-levels of engagement — or encouraging meaningful interactions. According to Facebook, meaningful interactions are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to. In fact, algorithm changes have made it so that only the most engaging posts will be seen.
Last year, Facebook revamped its Events app to focus more on local communities. The Events app, now called Facebook Local, will show users more events that are happening in their immediate vicinity. The app will also feature more events from local bars and restaurants.
Facebook Recommendations is another new feature that connects local businesses with local consumers. Facebook’s star-ratings and review system has been replaced with Recommendations — a system that simply asks users to say whether or not they would recommend a business. Users can also create a status update asking their friends for recommendations for local businesses, and friends can then tag the best businesses in the area.
If your business has multiple locations, it’s important that you manage these individual business pages in addition to your corporate page. These local pages are the perfect place to leverage your in-store specials and events, paired with your online content, to create a more immersive customer experience. This is the power of local content; to create a truly unique customer experience around your brand.