Recent studies show that social media engagement with brands is at an all time high. With 78% of surveyed consumers reporting that social media affects their purchase decisions, most brands have embraced the importance of having a corporate presence on social media.
“the surge in local business page searches on social media has made Facebook the #2 mobile search engine for local businesses”
However, as consumers have become more conditioned to use social media to engage with brands, the trend has become to do so at the local page level. In fact, the surge in local business page searches on social media has made Facebook the #2 mobile search engine for local businesses, and a top five site for local reviews.
Of further importance to Franchises is that more than 73% of potential franchisees now cite local social media pages as a source of their due diligence when considering a franchise brand.
Unfortunately, most brands are missing out on this recent consumer activity, as they have generally ignored their local social media pages. These brands are either leaving them unclaimed, claiming them but not posting to them, or allowing them to be managed by a local manager or franchisee as they see fit.
In this post, we will explain the reasons that brands can no longer ignore their local pages, and how they can leverage local pages to multiply the benefits of social media across their entire organization with minimal effort.
While there are many options for engagement on social media, Facebook has become the industry leader for brand interaction. With over 1.6 billion users, more than half of which interact daily on mobile, Facebook is a platform that can’t be ignored. Beyond its pure size, Facebook has begun to dominate digital marketing in two very important ways: local search and local reviews.
With 823 million users checking Facebook on their smartphones or tablets daily, and the average American spending 14 hours every month on Facebook’s mobile app, it’s no wonder that Facebook has become a massive force to be reckoned with in local search. In a previous post, we mention that Facebook is changing the way people search, and it is becoming the popular choice for finding local businesses.
Consumers are searching for all types of businesses on Facebook, from their local pizza or sub shops, to the nearest hardware store, to a reputable service provider in their area. However, Facebook has its own methodology for ranking local businesses that is completely independent of the Google algorithm. Amongst these factors is whether the local page is active and engaging. Unclaimed or inactive Facebook pages rank lower, and as a result may be missing hundreds of searches daily for their product or service.
“we did a simple search on Facebook for “Pizza San Diego”… 319 results before we saw the first Pizza Hut!”
Let’s look at an example. At the time of writing this article we did a simple search on Facebook for “Pizza San Diego”, expecting to find the usual major pizza brands. To our astonishment, it took 36 search results before finding a single Domino’s, 97 search results before we saw the first Little Caesars, and 319 results before we saw the first Pizza Hut!
So why are these monster brands not showing up in the Facebook search, especially since they each have dozens of locations in San Diego? It’s because, like many brands, they are only speaking to the Nation through their corporate page, instead of posting to all their local pages. This gives more active local pages an opportunity to attract customers (or franchisees) through social media.
For those pages that are ranking higher in Facebook search results, it is important that the page be on brand and consistent with brand values. Pages managed by a local manager or a franchisee can often be inconsistent and potentially damaging to a brand’s identity.
With its high and frequent user base, it’s no surprise that Facebook would add reviews to their offerings. What is surprising is how quickly Facebook became the leader in reviews, now receiving more local business reviews on a monthly basis than Yelp or Google – and in some categories 4x more.
“Facebook became the leader in reviews, now receiving more local business reviews on a monthly basis than Yelp or Google – and in some categories 4x more”
For brands, this is both a blessing and a curse. Facebook reviews is now a required feature on every local Facebook page, whether the page is claimed or not, and whether it is monitored or not. While this is a great opportunity to be found by new customers through the word of mouth of their trusted friends, or to show great customer care, these reviews could also be very damaging if the local pages are left unattended – scaring away potential customers and signaling a poorly run business to potential franchisees.
Brands must make sure those pages are claimed, and should consider leveraging a technology platform such as SOCi – it lets you know when those reviews have been left, and allows you to quickly respond or direct a local manager or franchisee to respond.
Now that we understand that social is important for your brand, particularly the social media goliath Facebook, let’s explore some simple tactics for taking advantage of this opportunity.
Brands work very hard to create the goodwill associated with their names, often spending millions of dollars in advertising and image shaping. Yet it always surprises us when we see that $100 million brand in the hands of hundreds or thousands of individuals, all of which are now imputing their own personalities and interests onto the brand. Not only can this be damaging to your brand, but it also may be damaging to your ability to recruit new customers or franchisees.
Brands must have a strategy in place to keep local pages on-brand and interesting. Left to their own, local managers or franchisees will either do nothing, or potentially damage your brand with off brand messaging.
Technology solutions, such as SOCi, exist to help multi-location brands efficiently deploy brand positive messaging across multiple pages, and empower franchisees with local libraries of content from which they can quickly get ideas and assets. Furthermore, workflow technologies like SOCi allow you to moderate post scheduling across multiple locations, and to deliver feedback and ultimate control over messaging.
These solutions help brands gain a local presence without adding headcount, while protecting their brand investment and goodwill.
America loves giveaways! What’s better than attracting hundreds of fans to a giveaway on one of your social media pages? Attracting tens of thousands of them to that same giveaway that now sits on hundreds of local Facebook pages. Once the effort has been made to take control of local pages, you can use them to mass distribute messaging as well as promotions and campaigns.
These campaigns can be a true catalyst to engagement and new customers. As a recent example, we had a customer that deployed a giveaway campaign across 300 local pages. While the brand page generated more than 500 entries to the campaign, the total campaign across all pages resulting in more than 30,000 entries and 25,000 likes, with little incremental effort!
Giveaways are not only for attracting new fans. Many brands have been deploying campaigns as recruiting tools to find new employees, agents or customers. By leveraging local pages, a brand is able to cast a vastly wider net, while maintaining a local feel with their audience. Of course, regardless of your goals and methods, this sort of mass deployment is only possible on certain technology platforms like SOCi, as it is built specifically to help you scale your social media efforts.
Social media is not like a website – the content and conversations are always evolving. Succeeding at social media across dozens, hundreds or thousands of locations requires sophisticated software. You need an enterprise platform that delivers all of the functionality under a multi-tiered permissions system that allows you to give different controls to different parties. Your platform should include content intelligence, content library, analytics, peak traffic time scheduling to the four major networks, listening and responding capabilities, campaign creation tools and a robust reporting suite.
What can SOCi do for you?