How Multi-Location Brands Can Engage Local Consumers on Social Media

This is the first post in our Local Social Media Series. Make sure to catch more helpful tips for marketers by subscribing to our blog.

  • Who is this for? Multi-location and franchise brand marketers looking to boost their brand’s local presence on social media. 
  • What is it about? This series will teach multi-location and franchise brands how to increase their locations’ social media presence by engaging local consumers, carrying on a conversation with followers and strengthening relationships with existing and potential customers. 

In today’s tech-driven, always-connected world, there’s no shortage of marketing channels to deliver your brand’s message to target audiences. But getting those audiences to respond to those messages can be challenging. Audiences are much more likely to respond if they trust you and have established a relationship with your brand.

For brands, one of the best channels to build relationships is social media. Unlike most marketing channels that only allow a one-way flow of information from a brand to an audience, social platforms are designed to generate conversation. When brands start the conversation by posting content, consumers have the opportunity to keep it going by replying, commenting, liking, sharing, retweeting, snapping, pinning, posting, etc.

Think of social media like a big party where your customers and potential customers are the guests and your brand is the host. No one wants to go to a party where all the guests sit quietly listening to the host ramble on about themselves. People go to parties to socialize and interact. For brands, being a good host means sparking conversations that encourage your guests to interact.

Where this can become really challenging for multi-location brands is getting the party started at the local level. As a multi-location brand marketer, you not only have to keep the conversation going on corporate social media feeds, you also need to find a way to foster local engagement.

The importance of local social media activation

There are roughly 200 million social media users in the United States. On average, these users spend almost an hour per day on social platforms, according to eMarketer.

U.S. social media users

U.S. social network users

For brands with multiple locations, 85 percent of engagement from these users takes place on local pages – not the brand profiles – across social media networks.

Consumers prefer local assets over brand pages-v2

The tendency for consumers to engage with local pages means that multi-location brands need to rethink their approach to social.

Where companies primarily make spending decisions for local social media marketing

Where companies primarily make spending decisions for local social media marketingA better way to approach local social efforts

Let’s look at two ways multi-location brand marketers can approach managing social media efforts at the local level:

  1. A bottom-up approach where content creation, social posting and engagement is handled at the local level.
  2. A top-down approach where the brand creates and shares content, then works with locations to localize content and engage with consumers.

The first solution probably sounds great at first. You save yourself some work while your brand benefits from content that’s more relevant to local audiences.

But, the bottom-up approach comes with some drawbacks – local employees usually:

  • Have a job to do and it isn’t to manage social posts so they might not have the time or expertise to create content.
  • Aren’t professional marketers so the posts they do create might not be professional-grade.
  • Don’t have as solid of a grasp on your brand’s guidelines which can lead to content that’s not brand compliant and/or legally dubious.

A top-down approach mitigates these issues by keeping your team in charge of creating the content. The trick is getting the content out there. Individual locations don’t always have the time or the expertise to publish regular social posts, even if your brand is supplying them with the content they need. And, for multi-location brands, publishing posts manually across social platforms can take forever.

How to activate social content at the local level

Luckily for multi-location brands, there are ways to streamline this process. If your multi-location brand is new to local social management, here’s a quick guide to help get you started.

Step No. 1: Set up local profiles and establish a parent-child relationship

Start by setting up local pages for each location across social media networks. To make sure the brand is still in control of social content, make sure to establish a parent-child relationship between your brand’s profile and your local pages.

For an example, let’s look at how to set up local pages with a parent-child relationship on Facebook.

From your brand’s Facebook page, simply select Settings on the top right, then choose Locations on the bottom left.
How to set up Facebook local pages - Step 1Make sure your brand page (i.e., “parent” page) doesn’t have an address. If it does, you’ll see a warning message and be asked to remove the address from your main brand page.

You can then either add locations one at a time or import multiple locations by uploading a spreadsheet. If you already have local pages set up but they’re not tied to your corporate page, you can claim them through the business manager.

(Check out this Facebook help page for more info.)

Step No. 2: Complete and localize local profiles

Next, make sure your brand’s local pages are completely filled out. You should also work to localize content like profile images, cover photos and business descriptions so local consumers know they are following and engaging with the right location.

Step No. 3: Leverage technology to activate social content at the local level

Once you have all the local pages set up, you could manage posts by platform. But, this is time-consuming and unnecessary. Rather than managing posts individually across sites, it’s more efficient to bring everything into a unified dashboard.

Partnering with a MarTech company or an agency like Mindstream Media Group provides your brand access to tools that allow you to manage an array of local social media tasks.

Local social dashboards allow multi-location brands to:

Post content: Manage content and publish posts across social networks for all your locations from a single dashboard. And, when you share content at the local level, many of these dashboards are able to automatically localize the content for each location.

Approve local content: Set up permission levels to require approval for local content. And, when locations create engaging in-store content like images of customers and employees, some of the dashboards host digital release forms to document approval from the people in the picture.

Manage engagement: Monitor customer engagement, respond to reviews and manage your overall reputation on select sites directly from the dashboard.

Boost content: Manage boosted posts at the national, regional or local level to spread your message to new audiences.

In upcoming posts, we’ll dive deeper into these features and explain why they are so crucial for multi-location brands. We’ll also provide tips on how your brand can get started with local social activation.

Read more from our Local Social Media Series, and make sure to subscribe to our blog.

Interested in how Mindstream Media Group can improve your brand’s local social presence and Fast-Forward Your Business? Contact us to learn more.