Localized social marketing (LSM) drives increased traffic and sales to local businesses. But, what are the benchmarks for success? What does LSM mean for marketers? And what can marketers take away from brands that are doing LSM well?
What is LSM and Why Does It Matter?
Now more than ever, localized social marketing is a key driver in consumer behavior. After all, 78 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by social content, and more than 75 percent of brand engagement is happening on local pages. Further, consumers now consider ratings and reviews as the number one influence on their purchases — 71 percent of consumers read reviews before every purchase, and this increases to over 80 percent for consumers ages 18-35.
What these consumer behaviors and the key findings from the Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report make clear, a localized social marketing strategy needs to be a core component of any franchise brands’ overall marketing strategy.
As a part of this content series, SOCi sat down with brands that were recognized as leaders in the LSM space, and asked a series of questions on their strategic approach to LSM so other marketers can learn best practices from the brands that are excelling!
Mosquito Joe, a Neighborly company, was recognized as a Home Services category leader in the 2019 Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report. Mosquito Joe was recognized for its performance in LSM for the brand’s localized presence, customer care in the form of local ratings and reviews, and local community engagement across the top localized social marketing platforms – Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp.
Mosquito Joe: A Multi-Location Franchise Excelling In All Areas of LSM
According to their website, Mosquito Joe provides mosquito, tick, and flea control treatment to residential and commercial customers. We spoke with Brooke Starling and Meredith Flora, both Senior Marketing Specialists at Mosquito Joe, about the brand’s best practices for LSM.
1. What does the term “localized social marketing,” mean to you as a marketer?
As we went through the LSM benchmark report with SOCi and the LSA, it really helped define that term for Mosquito Joe. For our brand, localized social marketing is defined as the online presence that a brand and its local businesses have across a number of channels, and maximizing that presence to truly engage with your consumers online. In today’s digital world, it’s not just about corporate- or national-driven communication channels, but really the franchisees at the local level having that presence and engagement to truly develop those relationships with the local consumers.
2. Considering the above, do you see localized social marketing (LSM) as a key area of focus in your marketing mix today? Why or why not?
Yes – absolutely. While we still provide national support from corporate, the Mosquito Joe business model is set up perfectly to empower marketing at the local level. We always encourage our franchisees to post locally on social media to give that local presence, show the community who they are, and build trust with their local customers. We also work with our reputation management vendor to respond to reviews in a professional and timely manner. Additionally, our franchisees take pride in being locally owned and operated, and serve as advocates in their communities. So, the mix of corporate support and localized social marketing has proven to be very successful for Mosquito Joe franchisees.
3. 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 corporate marketing, decentrally – meaning these assets are managed at the individual local or franchise level or a hybrid of the two?
Mosquito Joe approaches LSM through a hybrid management approach. So, at corporate, we assist in the claiming and setting up of the individual location’s pages to ensure all local business information is correct and consistent throughout all platforms. But franchisees have autonomy; we encourage them to post local content on their own pages, which allows them to appeal to the people in their immediate areas. The local owner knows the most about the people and events in the communities they serve, and through the deployment of localized content, they are truly reaching, engaging, and building rapport with the people in their area. Mosquito Joe takes this hybrid management approach with all platforms – from Facebook, to GMB, to Yelp, and beyond.
At corporate, we extensively train all franchisees to ensure they’re comfortable with the concept of LSM, provide all the tools for success, such as SOCi, and serve as a resource to ensure each local owner has a robust localized presence online. Additionally, through proper training, we have found that our franchisees maintain the consistency of the corporate brand throughout all our locations.
4. Based on the above-mentioned management approach, what do you think is working really well in your LSM program?
We have put an emphasis on doing LSM right from the beginning of Mosquito Joe, so everyone knows they are on the same team. Additionally, the collaboration between corporate, franchisees, and even our third-party vendors really plays well into our successful LSM strategy, and it shows – throughout the years.
5. Based on the above-mentioned management approach, what are some key challenges or issues you are facing in your LSM program?
We are lucky at Mosquito Joe because everyone understands the importance of LSM. The only problems that we encounter are caused by external factors outside of our control – Facebook changing from reviews to recommendations, as an example. Research has shown us that reviews are perceived better than recommendations, so at Mosquito Joe, we have tried to counteract that perception by increasing localized social content on those pages, to show that the franchisees can be trusted.
Additionally, we have seen inconsistent levels of activity from owner-to-owner on local pages. We continue to educate our owners of the powerful impact that LSM can have on their business to ensure we reach some level of consistency and to help make their page reflective of their local business. At corporate, we engage local owners who are not as active, don’t put as much of an emphasis on maintaining their GMB pages, don’t play an active part in their review response, or don’t post the localized content on their local Facebook pages and solely rely upon the content that corporate provides to them.
6. How do you approach LSM training at corporate? Or what are some of your best practices or recommendations for other franchises that have a local franchisee adoption issue?
Training is a concerted approach. From the time a prospect decides to pursue a franchise with Mosquito Joe, they already love the brand and are excited to bring it to life in their market. So, that helps Mosquito Joe – we have the right type of people who buy into the brand.
We are also so marketing oriented as a company across all departments, and marketing serves a huge part in training, which sets the tone from the get-go. From our pre-training webinars to on-site training, marketing plays a huge role in explaining the power and impact that LSM can have to grow a business. We help explain that LSM is all about spending time and engaging in their community. Within the home services category, Mosquito Joe owners likely don’t have a brick-and-mortar store, so developing and maintaining this LSM approach is SO important. We also don’t stop at the initial training – we make a conscious effort to complete training in all capacities. We encourage best practices and provide updates for industry trends weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and quarterly through conference calls – we are in constant communication with franchisees.
7. 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:
We place great importance of all categories, but if we have to rank them, they would be:
- Local Ratings & Reviews 5
- Local Search Pages like Google My Business (GMB) 5
- Local Social Pages like Facebook 3
- Localized Content on the above-mentioned pages 4
- Quick response to consumer questions and reviews 5
8. If you had to select a social or review platform that is the most impactful for your franchise, which would you choose and why?
Google. We have an in-house digital team that works directly with our franchisees to localize their website, which will ultimately improve their local SEO and organic ranking in search results. This partnership has been really impactful for our franchisees from the beginning of them becoming a Mosquito Joe owner. And as a corporate team, we really push the importance of GMB. We encourage franchisees to post locally on GMB to maximize the potential impact of the platform, and we work with our local listings vendor to ensure all contact information is up to date on every page and platform. GMB is truly rewarding businesses for posting locally through the positive impact of organic search rankings, and Google overall has such a high impact on our company.
9. Are you currently leveraging localized ads in social to supplement your LSM efforts? Why or why not?
This is one area that falls within franchisees’ hands. Our partners in digital do work with most of our franchisees to incorporate Facebook’s remarketing campaigns. Mosquito Joe has a tremendous amount of creative assets, but they’re not specific to a given market. We do have creative that is seasonally specific, but it may not be completely localized to every individual location. We also have some digitally savvy franchisees who do boost their top-performing posts on Facebook.
10. How are you measuring the performance or impact or LSM to your business and local franchisees today?
Through our CRM and our point of sales (POS) systems, there are a number of different ways that franchisees can and are required to track where their leads and customers are coming from. Most of our online leads come from Google unless otherwise specified. We do have leads that are sourced from Yelp, Facebook (organic or paid), or other referring sites.
We also conduct audits on social media and review platforms to ensure franchisees are within compliance from a digital performance standpoint. For ratings and reviews, we also recognize the top-performers and set benchmarks for success. And from a holistic standpoint, all of these metrics mentioned are indicators for the health of their business.
The Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report (LSM Benchmark Report) is a collaborative research project conducted by SOCi and the Local Search Association (LSA). The report was designed to help marketers understand the impact of LSM to their respective businesses while providing good examples of what effective LSM looks like to help set a benchmark of success for practicing marketers. The project examined the top franchise brands and their performance in LSM and concluded the top 10 brand performers are growing three times faster than their category peers based on a 5-year trend of each brand’s revenue growth rate.
Download the Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report to learn how LSM drives revenue