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As we jump into the second month of 2019, business owners and marketers should be finalizing their marketing plans for the year.

At the top of the priority list should be Social as it has become a major influencing factor in how people perceive your brand and make buying decisions.

In fact, 78 percent of purchase decisions are now influenced by social content1. And multi-location marketers should take note – social has gone local with as much as 75 percent of brand activity happening on Local Pages2.

So, what can bolster your company’s social media success?

Here are the five trends that should impact your strategy in 2019:

1. Reviews Reign Supreme

Reviews are the number one factor used in determining which business to visit and are also a top three ranking factor in local search results overall3 What are some review best practices and how can marketers capitalize on the power of reviews?

Businesses must obtain the ratings sweet spot – consumers expect between a 3.5- to 4-star rating to even consider your business3. Also, the more the merrier regarding review count. Consumers expect at least 10 reviews for this information to be credible3. So, deploy a personalized outreach strategy, and make it easy to find your review sites to obtain the number of reviews that consumers expect and the star rating that will persuade them to choose your business. And always respond to reviews because nearly 80% of consumers expect a response to critical reviews – 40 percent expect a response within 24 hours3.

2. Social Care… Just Responding is Soooo 2018

Ninety percent of customers state they would be willing to change a negative review depending on how the business responds3. However, responding alone is no longer enough. Reputation management now requires a strategic plan to garner positive reviews without mass solicitation, and to reduce negative reviews through proactive monitoring. Customer care is shifting from a reactive to a proactive approach. By monitoring feedback and analyzing trends, you can better determine the root cause of the negative reviews and can actively address them – hopefully prior to more bad reviews being posted.

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3. Response Time… Nearing “Real Time”

Two out of five consumers now expect a response to their social comments, questions, and reviews within 24 hours…14 percent expect a response immediately3. And the top networks, such as Facebook, are taking notice and highlighting businesses who have fast response times. How can marketers decrease their response time to obtain the ever essential 24-hour window? You should set up a clear notification system within your business, develop processes to ensure you deliver acceptable response times and pre-plan responses to common questions.

4. Google… The Next Big Social Network?

Google is now doubling down on the success of Google My Business and has introduced Google Posts and Google Q&A. A Google Post is content that promotes a business’s announcement, offer, event, or product update. Just like Google My Business reviews, Q&As are crowdsourced by people — real people who ask questions with the expectation the business will answer their questions.

How do you leverage these new Google features? To begin, you must claim and actively manage your Google My Business pages. For Google Posts, the content only stays live for 7 days, so creating a consistent posting schedule is key. For Google Q&A, ensure prompt responses as the “Business Owner.” To help reduce response time, you will have the ability to pre-populate some of the most commonly asked questions with answers from your business.

5. The Death… of Organic Reach

With the recent platform updates, it is nearly impossible to obtain the same reach once achieved through your organic social efforts. A continued focus on optimizing your content and posts to increase higher valued engagements such as comments and shares will increase reach over time. In the short term, leveraging some of the social ad features, such as boosting, are a perfect solution to help increase reach and local community awareness and engagement.

So, what does all this mean? Social has gone from macro to micro in an effort for the networks to better capture the reach and engagement of local audiences. The next level of social care is moving from a reactive approach to a proactive approach. And due to the recent algorithm changes, a healthy localized presence now requires a mix of social content, care, and ads.

Our CMO, Monica Ho, delved into these latest market trends, why they matter for locally-focused social media marketing, and how you can take advantage.

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Now that marketers know the social media trends for 2019, you can shift your marketing strategy to align with the increased focus on localized social media marketing. This approach will dramatically improve customer experiences and ultimately lead to increased business.

SOCi was built for marketers managing hundreds of locations.

1Source: SOCi Platform Data Q4 2017 – Q3 2018
2 SOCi and LSA: The Guide to Facebook Marketing for Multi-Location Brands
3 Source: SOCi and LSA: The Great Conversational Divide Study

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