Originally published on Business Wire on May 30, 2019.

SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–SOCi, the leader in social media and reputation management for multi-location brands, today released its Q1 State of the Market Report, Localized Social Marketing: The Value of Organic AND Paid Social Content which showcases key trends in social content distribution and engagement between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019. The report also explores how brands are using social marketing to grow as well as best practices for executing a localized social strategy.

Now more than ever, localized social marketing has a major impact on driving consumer behavior– according to Social Media Today, 78% of purchase decisions are influenced by social content and over 75% of the brand engagement on social is happening at the local page level. As a result, a locally focused social media strategy is key in expanding the reach of a brand and creating genuine connections to an engaged base of local consumers.

According to the report, local ratings & reviews have become essential components of localized social marketing impacting search results and a business’ digital visibility and presence. In fact, ratings and reviews are now a major factor in the consumer purchase decision. Consumers continue to review businesses on platforms like Yelp and Google My Business (GMB), but are increasingly posting recommendations and reviews on social networks like Facebook — blurring the lines between traditional review sites and social media platforms.

“While Google My Business (GMB) and Facebook are still the top platforms in terms of the total volume of reviews, other review sites like Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, and Expedia have made significant jumps from Q4 to Q1,” said Monica Ho, CMO, SOCi. “The growth in these networks in just the last quarter emphasizes the need for multi-location marketers to not only be aware of but actively managing any and all review platforms where consumers are actively engaging.”

Outside of the growth in the sheer volume of reviews, the report findings also highlight a decline in brands average star ratings as well as the time it takes for brands to respond to reviews. From Q4 to Q1 the overall average star rating across top review sites dropped 0.19 points, from 3.98 to 3.79 – however, should be noted that brands on average are still maintaining a score above the minimum expected star rating of 3.5. In the same timeframe, multi-location brands have gotten better at engaging with customers in a timely manner but still falling short of the desired 24-hour response time. The overall response time across all platforms decreased from 11.72 days in Q4 2018 to just 8.61 days in Q1 2019.

In terms of social engagements, the report found that Facebook is still king with 14x more activity than all other networks combined. In fact, in the last quarter, alone marketers have made a shift towards focusing on high-value engagements, such as comments, shares and direct messages, instead of low-value engagements, such as likes and other reactions. Why should marketers take note of this? An analysis conducted by SOCi shows that an increase in high-value engagements with your local community leads to an increase in reach for your organic posts. The report found that organic reach can be as low as < 1% of page followers, but as high as 10% if posts get high-value engagement from followers. The report shows a 214% increase in high-value engagements from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019, showing the power of creating highly relevant local content to engage with consumers in a meaningful way.

For those marketers who are effective at creating meaningful content for their communities but are looking for increased reach and engagement , the report highlights social boosting as one of the most efficient and effective ways to get more out of the social content that is already created for just pennies on the dollar driving over 2000%+ lift in impressions, 600% lift in post shares and over 500% lift in post comments vs. just your organic post reach alone.

Overall the latest report findings showcase the ever-evolving state of localized social marketing and the need for marketers to keep abreast of the trends in order to stay competitive.

To learn more about how multi-location businesses can leverage Localized Social Marketing to make a greater impact with today’s locally-minded audiences, click here to download a copy of SOCi’s Q1 State of the Market Report, Localized Social Marketing: The value of Organic AND Paid Social Content.

About SOCi
#60 on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies in America, SOCi is the leading social media and reputation management platform built to address the complex needs of highly visible Multi-Location businesses. An award-winning leader in the industry, SOCi has pioneered more than a dozen unique marketing tools to help multi-location brands oversee, maintain, and protect their brand at the national level, while simultaneously scaling presence across hundreds, sometimes thousands, of local pages. For more information on how SOCi can fuel the success of your social media channels while protecting what matters most–your online reputation–visit www.meetsoci.com.

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