Local Social: Thinking Like A Small Businesses to Boost Global Brand Growth

Matt Wurst

VP, Client Management

There were 4.4 billion Internet users worldwide in 2019, more than 60% of whom use social media each month. This growing number makes it increasingly difficult for any company or brand – big or small – to cut through the clutter and make social pages, publications, and posts visible. Every individual present on social networks adds noise to the algorithms that manage the display of publications of content to brands’ followers.

It thus becomes critical for brands to find new and different ways to stand out from the crowd just to be seen and heard. While paid media is one way to jump the line, not all brands and businesses have the expertise, time, or budget to consider paid social ads (even though well-targeted, promoted local posts can be extremely effective and valuable). The bigger ones typically do but aren’t using all tools and tricks at their disposal.

Believe it or not, most social and digital platforms favor the little gals and guys. In many cases, local experiences, services, and offerings are more relevant for users… and “optimal user experience” is what motivates the Googles, Twitters, and Facebooks of the world. They seek to enhance, highlight and promote local information, to make it more accessible to communities. Modifications to the Facebook newsfeed, the geolocation of Twitter’s trending topics, and the Bulletin app on Google are all initiatives allowing communities to find the most relevant information possible.

Because as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says: “Local information helps to create a community on the internet and in life.”

We have seen that local and smaller pages generate more engagement, and this SocialBakers study confirms it:

+ 107% more for pages with less than 100k fans

+ 169% for pages between 100 and 500k fans 

+ 346% more for pages with more than 500k fans

So… what if, following this logic, small businesses could leverage best practices from massive national/global business pages… and global companies with local point-of-sale outposts/franchises could leverage localized key tactics? It, therefore, seems increasingly relevant for all commerce-driven companies to develop a “local” approach as well as a mass-market strategy on social networks.

The Importance of a Local Social strategy

A brand’s presence on social networks can serve multiple purposes: awareness and consideration (build communities of consumers and advocates, and make them more open to brand interaction or purchase); as well as engagement and e-reputation (brand protection, control over what is said about it online, ability to respond quickly to negative opinions, etc). For major brands with local presences, providing a voice and visibility for the local locations of each point-of-sale will help achieve many of these objectives.

93% of franchises include some degree of localized social platform network consideration in their communication strategies, according to the annual survey of the Banque Populaire / FFF franchise.

Brands that localize the deployment and targeting of social content see a significantly stronger positive impact on the overall brand image, as well as the relationship with the local establishment, on commercial efficiency and profitability. And even if current or initial results for brands already employing some degree of localized social strategy are positive, they nevertheless believe that there is still significant opportunity for growth, evolution, and optimization of a better localized social approach (80%, according to a study by Webedia last year).

The Risks of NOT Leveraging a Local Social Strategy

If your national/global brand has not yet developed a local strategy for your points-of-sale as coordinated by the HQ, they may be tempted to take the initiative and create their own pages. The likelihood of mistakes, miscommunications, cannibalization, and confusion is high. Heck, we’ve even seen some local stores or restaurants within a global model create profiles and groups instead of official business pages. They often lack of complete or accurate information, use old logos, and are not always responsive to consumers who have come to expect a degree of immediate satisfaction and instant gratification.

Even individual posts that are broader in nature as opposed to more localized need to maintain visual consistency and tone in ways that align with brand values. Let’s also not forget the legal aspects around content usage, copyright, and IP restrictions as well as general regulatory or compliance requirements.

When it comes to localized social, our recommendation is usually to manage and centralize most of this at the national level, but leverage software for file sharing, reporting, data aggregation, publishing, and even amplification to best support the individual point of sale locations in their pursuit of contextually relevant relationships with consumers on social networks.