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Facebook is the dominant platform for social media marketing for multi-location businesses, and the platform continues to add to its list of localized social marketing features. Data from SOCi’s social media and reputation management platform — in addition to third-party research reports — can help marketers understand why Facebook is the platform to focus on moving forward. 

According to a research report created by SOCi, Facebook has 3x the number of profiles and pages under management within the SOCi platform than are on Google My Business (GMB), Twitter and Instagram. The same report found that Facebook also has nearly 14x more engagement activity than all other networks combined.

Between localized features and recent News Feed algorithm changes, Facebook is rewarding multi-location businesses that post engaging, localized content for consumers. Below are a few of the reasons why localized content works on Facebook. 

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Facebook’s Local Pages earn more engagement 

On Facebook, multi-location brands have to manage both Local Pages and the Brand Page. While the Brand Page represents the corporate entity, each individual store location has a Local Page so that consumers can check-in to specific locations and leave location-specific reviews. 

According to a research report created by SOCi and the Local Search Association (LSA), 72 percent of Facebook brand engagement is happening on these Local Pages as opposed to Brand Pages. Consumers prefer to engage with content from the businesses nearest to them rather than the non-localized content on Brand Pages. 

Local Pages come into existence in one of two ways; when a business owner creates and claims the Local Page for their business location, or when a consumer attempts to check-in or leave a review for a business location that does not yet have a Local Page. In the latter case, business owners must go claim the Local Page in order to take control of their business’ online presence.

Two Facebook changes reward high-value engagements

While not directly related to localized social marketing, high-value engagements are a byproduct of localized content. On Facebook, high-value engagements refer to comments, shares and direct messages as opposed to low-value engagements such as likes and reactions. 

Localized content — posted on Local Pages — is often more relevant to consumers than the generic content on corporate Brand Pages. As a result, Facebook users are more likely to share and comment on posts because they consider the content to be relevant to themselves and their friends/family.

Engagement is a two-way street, and Local Page owners can respond to comments in order to foster more high-value engagements. Facebook has even made recent changes that take this into account. In a June update, Facebook stated, “To improve relevance and quality, we’ll start showing comments on public posts more prominently when the comments have interactions from the Page or person who originally posted.”

According to data from SOCi’s latest State of the Market report, social media management platform, there was a 214 percent increase in high-value engagements from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019. Multi-location businesses seem to be posting more relevant, localized content on Local Pages, and are being rewarded with more comments, messages, and shares.

Facebook’s much-publicized 2018 algorithm change led to a sharp decline in organic reach for business Pages. The algorithm change prioritized posts from family and friends over posts from business Pages, and created an environment where businesses had two paths to increase reach; earn high-value engagement or use paid options like Boost and Facebook Ads. 

In May, Facebook implemented another change that put pressure on business Pages. According to Facebook, the platform will now send users surveys and “update the News Feed to show people links we predict they will find worthwhile.” Pages that post click-bait content will experience a decline in organic reach, opening up more space on the News Feed for Pages that post engaging, quality content.

Local reviews play a major role on Facebook

Facebook changed its 5-star review system to Recommendations last October, giving consumers a simple “yes/no” option when asked if they would recommend a local business. These Recommendations are extremely popular; according to SOCi research, Facebook has the second most reviews of any platform, behind only Google My Business. 

On Facebook, 48 percent of business locations are responding to these consumer reviews, compared to 36 percent on Google and just 16 percent on Yelp. According to a collaborative research report from SOCi and the LSA, 77 percent of consumers leaving critical reviews expect businesses to respond to them, and 89 percent expressing a willingness to change a review based on how the business responds. There is clear value in responding to reviews on Facebook’s Local Pages. 

All this data indicates that Facebook is a powerful force for local businesses, and a study by the LSA highlights the value of social media as a brand awareness and sales tool. The study shows that 55 percent of consumers used social media to find local business information within the previous month and 49 percent of consumers had done so within the previous week. 

With so many consumers using social to find local business information, brands with accurate, up to date social pages earn consumers’ business. In fact, the LSA study showed that 39 percent of consumers who found a local business on social media ended up making a purchase. Multi-location businesses that use Facebook as a localized social marketing tool can not only attract these consumers but engage them and build a loyal, local customer base.

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