#LSA19: The Location Factor: How Multi-Location Brands Win in Social Media

It’s critical for brands to localize social media marketing and reputation management. It’s no secret that digitally savvy consumers have an affection for online shopping, but brick-and-mortar retail is not dead, the competition for local stores to win customers’ business is just changing.

Multi-location brands possess the local presence advantage, compared to e-commerce stores, and this can influence buying decisions when you’re trying to convince customers to shop local instead of shopping online. National franchise brands must shift their marketing focus to localized social marketing to stay relevant in today’s social environment. Local retail shops can’t compete with the convenience of online shopping, but they can win the sale by leveraging their locations to create uniquely local experiences.

At this year’s LSA19 conference in Dana Point, CA, SOCi’s Chief Marketing Officer, Monica Ho, presented in conjunction with Gary Drummond, Local Marketing Manager at Ace Hardware. They took the stage to explain the criticalness for brands to shift their marketing to a local focus and offered a compelling case study and validation for the local social approach to marketing.

The session, titled, “The Location Factor: How Multi-Location Brands Win in Social Media,” highlighted how local retailers win in this Amazon and e-commerce-driven world. There are four distinct, local areas where retailers can capitalize to better compete in this this digital age; local experiences, local expertise, local community and local care. How do retailers leverage local? Enter, localized social marketing.

Localized Social Marketing is defined as marketing efforts that focus on building a local presence for a business by leveraging locally-driven communication channels to reach the specific local communities it serves. There are three stages of a successful localized social media program; presence, care and growth.

  • Presence: Are you on brand? Are you being found locally? “85% of brand engagement is happening at the local page level…That is huge,” Ho shared in this staggering statistic. It’s time to claim and manage your local pages, or lose control of your business’ narrative.
  • Care: Are customers talking to you, and are you responding properly?  “Reviews are now the top factor consumers use in deciding which business to visit,” Ho stated, “And 70% of consumers use social media to air and resolve grievances.” Claim and actively monitor your review and social sites, or common grievances could compound to become detriments to your business.
  • Growth: Are you reaching new audiences and driving results through social? “Social media is now the second largest source for new customer acquisition behind personal referrals,” Ho explained, “Social and reviews now affect every part of your business.” Putting strategic advertising dollars behind boosted social posts and targeted social ads can dramatically improve reach, engagement and overall results of your local social efforts.

The session also covered specific organizational challenges in executing a social media and reputation program across Ace Hardware’s franchise locations and how the brand maintained control while enabling franchisees to participate at the local level.

Drummond shared Ace Hardware’s localized social marketing objectives:

  • Protect and grow the Ace Hardware brand and local sales
  • Ensure local authenticity and brand consistency in-market
  • Promote retailer understanding, education and participation on the top social and reputation management sites

With those localized social marketing objectives came results from implementing a local social approach across the business. “Ace Hardware generated over 1 million followers in less than three months,” Drummond shared, “And we’re maintaining an average 4-star rating across review sites.”

Additionally, Drummond stated that over a fourth of retailers are already active in the localized social program, which just rolled out in 2018. Those staggering statistics speak to the local social success all brands and solutions-providers can experience after deploying a localized approach to marketing.

Drummond also covered lessons learned from the brand in their shift to localized social marketing. For example, Drummond shared that Ace Hardware had a few keys to program success, which included removing adoption hurdles for localized social marketing technology solutions, then empowering local locations to control the localized conversations and promoting and sharing results across the brand.

Ace Hardware found localized social marketing success with this approach. “We’ve seen that we have to use data, integrate and learn technologies to be smarter marketers,” Drummond further elaborated, “SOCi has allowed us to become smarter and more successful. We now have line of sight into the data, and we can be more strategic in our efforts.”

Whether you’re a large brand with thousands of locations or a solutions-providers managing multiple business’ locations, you can build a localized social marketing strategy to scale – all of the concepts covered in “The Location Factor” are interchangeable.

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