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2021 Predictions and Top Trends for Multi-Location Businesses


2020 has brought various challenges for multi-location marketers around the world. As we move into 2021, it’s essential for brands to consider what localized marketing trends will be prevalent in the new year. Within this blog, we’ll share our predictions for the new year, highlight which trends we think will be prevalent to localized marketing, and explain how you can incorporate them into your localized marketing efforts. 


The Rise of Non-Branded Search 


Over the past year, there has been a rise in non-branded search results, and we expect that increase to continue well into the new year. A non-branded search occurs when a consumer searches for something without including a specific brand name. In a non-branded search, a consumer might search for “hardware stores” rather than explicitly searching for a brand, like Ace Hardware. While many of these non-branded searches don’t include a specific location or “near me” in the text, they’re still producing localized results as seen in the image below. 


This rise in non-branded search means that your multi-location business needs to ensure it has a strong local SEO presence to appear in non-branded search results. Your multi-location business can ensure your local presence is strong enough to appear in local searches by updating and maintaining your local listings and optimizing your non-branded keywords for your industry. Your business must have accurate information listed everywhere from your business hours to your locations’ addresses to appear in non-branded searches. Similarly, if your multi-location business is in the auto industry and optimizing for non-branded keywords like tire repair, or auto-shop, you will be more likely to appear in these non-branded search results. 


With non-branded searches on the rise, your multi-location business needs to ensure it’s doing what it can to appear in these searches. If updated local listings and optimized non-branded keywords weren’t in your localized marketing strategy for 2020, it’s time to add them in. On the listings side, we understand that it can be tricky to keep all of your local listings updated with 100s or 1,000s of business locations. This is where SOCi Listings comes in. SOCi Listings will help increase the accuracy of your listings data and improve local search rankings, resulting in stronger brand awareness and visibility.


Social’s Influence on Search is Increasing 


Another trend that we expect to remain center stage in the new year is social media’s influence on search. While social media doesn’t directly impact a consumer’s search results, it’s becoming more prevalent in local search. For instance, platforms like Facebook that were previously considered strictly social are now creating additional features and functionality that more align with a traditional search platform. . Over the past year, we have seen an increase in ratings and reviews and enhanced features like “businesses nearby” searches on Facebook. If your social channels have a strong local presence, including ratings and reviews, they will appear in a user’s search results – because many consumers are now searching for business information directly from Facebook. If your social media pages are optimized with information about your business locations, a consumer could discover your page or content through a social media search. 


Social media can also be used to drive traffic, which directly impacts your search ranking factors. When many people interact with your content on social media and re-share the content, this increases the reach of your content, therefore increasing the clicks, which will result in increased website traffic, ultimately improving your search rankings. Social media improves your content reach as well, which again affects your rankings. 


It’s clear that social media and search are intertwined, and we only expect this to continue more as time progresses. To ensure your local social media channels are appropriately managed, consider SOCi’s social media management solution. The tool empowers enterprise and local teams to publish localized content, manage content libraries, respond to social engagements, and analyze performance — all within one powerful platform.


The Secrets to Building Real Connections With Your Consumers


The current pandemic has consumers craving a local connection now more than ever before. Data from our Q3 2020 State of Multi-Location Marketing Report found that localized content performs 12 times better than non-localized content. If your multi-location business is looking for ways to build a real connection with your consumers, consider the following tools and tactics. 


Local Social 


Posting and engaging on your local social media channels is a great way to build connections with your consumers. For instance, you can share updates about your business location or host virtual events from your local social channels. If a consumer thinks your multi-location business is taking the time to connect and engage with them, you are more likely to build a real connection. For more tips on connecting with your consumers through social media, check out our blog on the topic. 




Chatbots allow consumers to communicate with your business in a matter of seconds, improving the consumer experience and ultimately helping to build a real connection. For instance, if your consumer has a simple question about a product or your hours of operation, a chatbot can answer the consumer’s question right away, rather than making them wait for an email response or call back. 


Chatbots can also share information with your consumers, so if you have a promotion or giveaway coming up, the chatbot can promote it. If you’re highlighting positive promotions through your chatbot, consumers will have a more positive viewpoint of your multi-location business, again making them feel more connected. 


If you’re looking for a chatbot solution explicitly built for multi-location marketers, look no further than SOCi SmartBot. SOCi SmartBot delivers localized, proactive responses to commonly asked questions and can drive call-to-actions, including calls, website clicks, appointment setting, purchases, and more!


Online Reputation 


Online reputation has the potential to help your multi-location business build real connections with consumers in a variety of ways. When you think about online reputation, ratings and reviews are typically the first things that come to mind. Responding to the reviews your multi-location business receives is one way to connect with your local audiences. As mentioned previously, if consumers can tell you’re putting time and effort into your interactions with them, it goes a long way. While responding to reviews is essential, it’s also essential to respond to them promptly. If you wait weeks to respond to reviews, the gesture won’t mean as much. 


In addition to responding to reviews, your business can also share positive reviews you’ve received on your social media channels to promote consumers who have had a positive experience with your business. 


We understand that managing your ratings and reviews across business locations can be overwhelming, which is why SOCi is here to help! SOCi’s streamlined reputation management software helps you monitor every review platform in one centralized platform and gives local marketing teams the power to respond to reviews. Your corporate team can maintain oversight through the creation of approval workflows.


Social Listening is Key for Monitoring Online Conversations


If your multi-location business isn’t already utilizing social listening for your benefit, it’s time to start. Social listening is the process of monitoring social media and other online conversations for mentions of your brand, your products, and your competitors. With social listening, you will have a realistic understanding of the conversations going on around your multi-location business. 


Social listening will be huge in 2021 and is necessary to stay ahead of the competition. For instance, you may discover customer care issues or product requests through social listening. By deploying the proper tools, you can find out what consumers are talking about in relation to your business online – find out if there is a commonality for low-quality service at one of your business locations or a common request for one of your products to come in a different color. Once you’re aware of this information, you can make the appropriate changes to improve the consumer experience and overall view of your business. Without social listening, what all could you be missing out on? 


While monitoring the conversation around your business locations and its competitors can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. SOCi has a soon to be released listening tool. Through this tool, you’ll be able to discover what your residents and prospects are saying about your properties and competitors plus activate local engagement across all property locations with localized listening capabilities, sentiment analysis, and user-generated content.


Kicking Off The New Year Right 


Now that you have insight into the top trends for 2021, it’s time to kick it into high gear. 2020 was a challenging year for all multi-location businesses in one way or another, but it’s time to start the new year on the right foot. If your multi-location business wants more information on how SOCi can help you strengthen your localized marketing efforts and beat the competition, request a demo today! 



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