Bottom Line: Introducing a Local Social Media Strategy is a Must

Imagine this: During a trip to your local branch of a national grocery chain as you attempt to make that healthy, new-year-new-you paleo meal, you find yourself smiling at familiar faces, chatting with the cashier, and thinking to yourself, “this is my community and my store, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather go.” Unfortunately, this isn’t how it usually plays out. Consumer sentiment tends to shift regularly, and with a myriad of destinations from which to choose, retention can be hard to come by. To overcome this, you need to create an experience that your customers feel invested in—a local social media strategy to be exact.

The problem is that many of the world’s biggest brands focus solely on the national level. This leaves hundreds, sometimes thousands of local storefronts out in the cold. Add to that a social space brimming with content—Facebook alone has 50 million businesses using Pages—and the fragmentation of audiences, it makes sense that local stores may struggle to reach customers effectively. If you can relate, a renewed focus on local social media is an essential first step.

We’ve found that the more honest, relatable, and relevant a brand’s social efforts are, the more connected customers feel. We’ve also found that they want to engage with a brand both on and offline. A study syndicated on eMarketer supports our position that customers want personalization. In a time when having a social presence is critical, it’s time to start connecting with your customers in a more meaningful way. At Brand Networks, we believe that in many cases, a local social media strategy (in addition to a national social presence and a healthy advertising budget for both avenues) is one of the most efficient ways to build brand loyalty and trust.

Creating a Local Social Media Strategy

As you start to build out your local social plan, your first question should be: How do I know if a local presence on social is right for me? Here are a few key questions to help you figure out the answer:

  • Do you have a multi-location business?
  • Do you want to build your community?
  • Do you want to create recognition?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, consider getting your local social media strategy in gear—and fast.

1. Ingrain Your Multi-Location Business into the Community

It can be difficult to create a communal vibe when you’re just one of potentially hundreds of locations that comprise a national corporation. By having a local presence on your social channels, including both native and paid content, you immediately establish your business in particular communities, with the people that matter the most. Think about aspects of your store that are exclusive to your community. The weather, for example, could give you the opportunity to showcase products or services applicable to your location. Say it snows: you can showcase shovels, salt, and generators. Or maybe you want to spread the word about the town’s upcoming hot-air-balloon festival? With a local presence, this is all possible.

2. Build Your Community and Foster Local Belonging

Like it or not, businesses help shape the environment in which we live. Besides the fulfillment of needs, your business gives you the chance to establish a sense of belonging in your community by bringing like-minded people together. Think about it: Do you have regular customers who have built your business into their daily routines? (Post-work trip to the grocery store ring a bell?) A local social presence can give these customers a place where they can go to converse, learn, and help one another, further establishing your company as a regular influence in their lives. This also gives you a valuable opportunity to interact with them and humanize your brand.

3. Create Recognition of Your Business’s Identity, Offerings, and Personnel

Every business has an identity of its own—really! If your grocery store was a person, what type would it be? Cranky? Helpful? Thoughtful? Using a local social presence helps establish your business’s identity through regular posts tailored your community. It also helps cultivate it before customers even step foot inside. To help develop this, you can use pre-existing assets to highlight your products and services, as well as feature profiles of your personnel to help people get to know your one-of-a-kind employees.

The great divide between outstanding social strategies and those that are merely adequate lies in the inability of most national businesses to connect with people on a local level. Both national and local efforts are worthwhile and should work in harmony, yet too many companies neglect to establish and to maintain localized social strategies. So you have the opportunity to be a trailblazer in this largely untapped opportunity.

Once you’re ready to drive your local and national strategies in tandem, here are a few tips:

  • Be sure your national brand objectives are well known by all individual locations, so you can keep messaging cohesive.
  • Learn how to depend on, empower, and trust your local leaders to run their local social pages independently.
  • Have a healthy balance of both national initiatives and local causes, unifying your company around local ties and expanding national appeal.

Remember, national efforts can effectively drive widespread initiatives, but local actions legitimize you in the eyes of individual communities. How would your perception or habits change as a consumer if your local retailers invested in you, as you have in them?

Learn more about how Brand Networks can help launch your local social media strategy.
Request a free, online demo of our solutions today.