What does it mean for a brand to be authentic? Some say that means brands have to be perceived as reliable, respectful, and real. But how does your brand communicate that authenticity at a local level? How can you seem like not just another company who wants consumers’ dollars and show that you sincerely care about your local community and customers?
Online, your brand has ample opportunity to prove your local authenticity. Below find four essential ways to build local authenticity through your localized social marketing efforts:
1. Be a “Human” Business
It’s easy to feel like some corporations and brands are run by robots and not people; therefore, consumers have a hard time identifying with their messaging or content. Instead, showcase the diverse personalities of your employees through your social channels.
For example: if you have a few people posting updates on behalf of your business on your Facebook Page, have each one sign their name when posting. This personalizes your social shares and gives your consumers a point of contact if they have questions. Deploy the same strategy with the Messenger app on your Page.
Include photos of your staff (and maybe even the company dog) on your social profiles to inject even more personality into your page.
Also, actively engage with your audience! If you post a blog on your Facebook Page that gets lots of comments, be sure to respond. And encourage user-generated content by sharing your fans’ content to show that you’re paying attention, and you’re valuing their engagement.
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2. Create and Manage a Local Presence
Did you realize there are actually two types of Pages for your company on top digital platforms like Facebook and Google? While your Brand Page is a great place to share branded blogs and content, it’s your Location Page that drives engagement with your local audiences (engagement is 2.5x higher than on your Brand Page, to be exact).
If you don’t create or claim a Location Page, these platforms will automatically create one for you when a customer tags the location or checks in. Therefore, the customer will be the automatic Page manager, not your brand. So, naturally, it’s better for you to create and manage that Page so that you can control the narrative, and you know when a customer checks in (hey, send them a “thank you” coupon!) or leaves a review.
3. Create Localized Content
When you post content at a local level, strive for an authentic voice to truly engage with useful, appealing, accessible and credible content. Create connections with people in your community through content.
As a franchisee or local business, it is easiest to start posting branded content that is localized to you. From there, create content that shines a spotlight on your community involvement, local events, and specials.
There is a massive push behind the “Buy Local” movement, so seize the momentum, and create a neighborhood feel for your location’s content. You can create an employee of the month profile, highlight hometown team sponsorships, offer local in-season specials that you know your community will love, and utilize local influencers to share your content to maximize reach.
4. Encourage and Manage Honest Reviews
While there are some policies you need to be aware of in regards to soliciting reviews, you can ask customers if they enjoyed their experience with your brand, and if so, ask if they would be willing to leave a review on Google, Facebook, Yelp or any other industry-appropriate review site.
If they leave a negative review, respond promptly, apologize publicly, and work to amend the situation. Through a research study that we conducted in association with Local Search Association (LSA), we found that 89% of consumers indicated a willingness to change a negative review, depending on the business’ response to their criticism. So proper reputation management can lead to a negative review reversal!
See our “Great Conversational Divide” research study for more review discrepancies that exist between customers and businesses.
For positive reviews, it’s also a good idea to respond quickly, thanking the reviewer for taking the time to share her feedback. Not only will this forge the bond with that particular customer, but it also impresses anyone else reading your business’ reviews.
Prompt response time is crucial – for both negative and positive reviews. Consumers are expecting a response to their online comments and reviews and a growing portion expect to hear back within twenty-four hours.
Authenticity not only drives sales, but it also keeps customers coming back again and again. In fact, 63 percent of consumers deliberately buy from authentic brands over others, so if you take the time to ensure that your brand is represented authoritatively and genuinely online, you’ll build a solid relationship with your audience.