The latest research shows that nearly 80 percent of consumers report that social content affects their purchase decisions. Social media is the first place most people turn to find or uncover more about a local business. Everything from your official social page content and mentions of your brand in social conversations, affect the overall visibility and perception of your brand and can make the difference between your franchise location being chosen or passed up in favor of other options.
However that engagement is no longer happening at the corporate level – everything is going local. In fact, 72 percent of brand engagement happens on local pages, and 80 percent of those searching report being swayed by the opinions of others1. A smart locally-focused social media strategy, in platforms you can manage, can expand the reach of a brand and create genuine connections to an engaged base of loyal customers.
As a part of this content series, SOCi sat down with some of our customers and asked about their strategic approach to different components of localized social marketing (LSM). Our hope is that other marketers can read through the answers and learn best practices from the multi-location businesses that are excelling in LSM!
ChoiceLocal truly understands the importance of having a localized social media strategy for the franchisee partners that they serve.
Q&A with ChoiceLocal
According to its website, ChoiceLocal is a local marketing agency, which helps franchises reap the benefits of a full suite of digital marketing services without paying exorbitant costs typically associated with a large scale franchise marketing agency. They offer proven strategies for franchise growth, including localized social marketing services.
ChoiceLocal answered the following questions on the agency’s best practices for scaling localized social marketing for their growing base of partners.
1. Tell us about your experience using the SOCi Platform and how long you’ve been using it.
ChoiceLocal has been utilizing the SOCi platform since spring of 2018 with much success. Because of SOCi, we have been able to scale our social program and accommodate the franchise networks we serve with localized content every single day. SOCi is a fantastic platform for our needs – everything we do at ChoiceLocal is about localization, replication of success, and customer results.
2. What were your main challenges before you started using SOCi?
Prior to implementing SOCi, we were scheduling individual posts to every single page that we manage, one at a time. We needed each link to be customized to the individual location of the franchisee partners we serve. To do this natively, it took our team hours and hours and created additional challenges with reporting.
3. What have been the greatest benefits you’ve received from using the platform? And what is your favorite part of the SOCi offering?
SOCi has allowed us to scale our social media packages without creating a significant increase in workload for the social media team. The dynamic text capabilities have been invaluable to us and we use it both for localizing the content and for pushing out local URLs with every post.
4. Tell me about what surprised you the most or made you the happiest about using the SOCi platform?
The intuitiveness and ease of use of the SOCi platform was a wonderful surprise. On the rare occasion when I cannot figure out what I’m doing on my own, I have a very supportive account rep and the SOCi University provides additional DIY training and assistance.
5. SOCi defines Localized Social Marketing (LSM) as marketing efforts that focus on building a local presence for a business, leveraging locally-driven communication channels to reach the specific local communities it serves (rather than a broad/national approach). Based on this description, do you see localized social marketing (LSM) as a key area of focus in your marketing mix today? Why or why not?
Localization is literally the reason SOCi is the best and right platform for us. We cannot provide the agreed upon localized content to our partners that we serve without it.
6. 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 your agency, or decentrally – meaning these assets are managed by individuals at the business level or a hybrid of the two?
All social media profiles for our partners are managed through SOCi. Because the bulk of our clients are SEO-specific, we still natively use GMB for all of the Google listings management and we have an external vendor to do local listings management. The SOCi platform is specifically segmented to our social needs because internally, the social department is completely separate from SEO and PPC.
7. Based on the above-mentioned management approach what are some key challenges or issues you are facing in your LSM program?
Prior to SOCi, we did employ a LSM strategy, but we struggled to localize the content for dozens of clients’ social media accounts. At that time, we had about 32 partners signed on for social services and we had to schedule content natively for each individual page to achieve the localization we promised. With SOCi, we were able to scale from 32 locations served to more than 130 in just over a year.
8. Please rank the following areas of LSM on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being not at all important and 5 being critically important to your business:
- Local Ratings & Reviews
- Local Search Pages like Google My Business (GMB)
- Local Social Pages like Facebook
- Localized Content on the above-mentioned pages
- Quick response to consumer questions and reviews
These are all important but because I’m specifically speaking form the social department’s perspective, social pages like Facebook are the top priority and localizing the content on the above pages. However, I cannot rank all the categories effectively as these services are spread across several different departments and job titles internally.
9. If you had to select a social or review platform that is the most impactful for your business, which would you choose and why?
We believe that Facebook and Instagram are the most important local social tools we can use right now. ChoiceLocal has gone so far as to shift a portion of PPC budget into local social lead generation campaigns with significant ROI.
10. Are you currently leveraging localized ads in social to supplement your LSM efforts? Why or why not?
Yes. We utilize boosted posts, likes campaigns, and most for our partners, the most important social ad tactics is lead generation campaigns.
11. 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?
Always play by Facebook’s rules. You may think you’re getting away with something, but you’re not, and in the long-run, Facebook may penalize you for breaking their rules. From algorithm changes to advertising guidelines – stay up to date on the platform’s updates in order to ensure your strategies and campaigns run smoothly. Facebook is just like Santa — they know when you’ve been bad or good. So be good, for goodness sake.
12. How do you see localized social marketing impacting your business? What about reputation management? Did you do it well in the past? How has that changed?
Localized social marketing has made a huge impact on our business for a number of reasons. Our partners requested it, we developed a program that met their needs, and we’re delivering results every day in the form of leads, phone calls, customer relationship building, and public-facing, localized content. SOCi provides an essential avenue for us to localize and take advantage of hyper-local content marketing in a way we could not have otherwise.
Don’t know where to get started with your LSM strategy? Download the Franchise Playbook for Localized Social Marketing!