What to do now to be more competitive online.
The concept of LSM—localized social marketing—has been around for awhile, but an interesting study was recently released that’s causing a bit of a buzz. The Local Search Association (now known as Localogy) collaborated with SOCi to study 163 national franchise brands’ LSM strategies. The result is the LSM Benchmark Report.
While you may not have a national company with multiple locations, the report offers good reminders of how companies of all types, including your local small business, may be missing marketing opportunities on social media.
What is localized social marketing?
The report defines LSM as “marketing efforts that focus on building a local presence for a business, leveraging locally driven communication channels to reach the specific local communities it serves” (rather than a broad/national approach).
This may include social media marketing, review sites, social advertising, chatbots, and other two-way engagement channels.
National brands such as those featured in the benchmark report use LSM strategies to drive better engagement at the local level in the communities in which they operate.
Why LSM matters.
According to the benchmark report:
- When people are looking for a business, more than 90% of them start searching locally first.
- Reviews and ratings are the #1 factor for choosing a company to do business with and a local search ranking factor
- More than 70% of engagement with brands is occurring on local pages.
- Social content influences 78% of purchase decisions.
- Google is the top search engine, but Facebook is in the top three based on search volume.
- Two out of three Facebook users visit local business pages once a week.
For national brands with multiple locations, it’s important they create and maintain social media pages or profiles for each location. For a small business, it means making sure you are everywhere your customers are searching online.
Keep in mind that “social content” in the context of LSM is not only the content that you create for your company. It’s also people sharing recommendations (or warnings) about your products or services on their own accounts, review videos on sites such as YouTube, or reviews on sites such as Yelp.
Conversations about your business are happening across all kinds of social media channels, whether you are participating in them or not.
Word-of-mouth is more powerful than ever, thanks to social media. Conversations about your business happen across all kinds of social media channels, whether you are participating in them or not. Make sure you’re taking advantage of the opportunities this offers, which can yield benefits that include higher rankings in local organic search results, building trust by demonstrating responsive customer service, converting new customers, and inspiring current customers to do more business with you.
The moving parts of LSM.
The tools in the LSM box include familiar things, such as paid social media advertising, managing your presence on review sites, and claiming your Google My Business listing.
They also include claiming your Facebook business page and Yelp listing. As the LSM Benchmark Report points out, the best-performing companies in the study claimed their location pages and listings at a much higher rate than their competitors. For example, in the retail/general category, Ace Hardware claimed 95% of their Facebook business location pages compared to their competitors, who claimed only 75.8%. In the home services category, Mosquito Joe claimed 96% of their Facebook pages, compared to 55% for competitors.
Zero in on zero click mobile searches.
This is a bit of a side tangent, but one interesting statistic in the report was on zero click searches: 61% of mobile and 34% of desktop searches do not result in clicks because users find what they need right away.
As stated in the report, “No click, or zero click searches are a search engine results page (SERP) that displays the answer to a user’s query at the top of a Google search result. This kind of search result satisfies the user’s intent without having to actually click on any search result links.”
How is this happening? As Sparktoro’s blog post on “Google CTR in 2018: Paid, Organic & No Click Searches” notes, there’s steady growth in zero click searches, but it could be worse “considering how aggressive Google’s become with their rich results and attempts to answer queries prior to anyone leaving the search engine.”
Remember, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing: Sometimes consumers just want to know your address or operating hours, which may mean they’re ready to engage with you. When you’ve optimized your online presence in your local area, it’s easier for these searchers to get that info and get in touch or go to your location. Make sure the information that’s displayed about your business is accurate.
Sparktoro’s advice circles us back to LSM strategies to respond to this trend:
- Invest in increasing your company’s influence on search results, even when you’re not getting clicks
- Increase your brand recognition with strategies such as social media, content, press and public relations to prompt searchers to search for your name instead of a generic keyword when they’re shopping for what you sell
Seize your local presence.
So, what’s the to-do list that comes from all of this? Several things you can do right away!
- Verify your Google My Business (GMB) listing. This is a must for ensuring your business has visibility on Google Maps and in search results and, according to the benchmark report, there are more reviews on Google My Business than anywhere else! You really don’t want to miss any of your opportunities here—the report “observed insufficient attention to reviews, Q&A response and local content posting,” all of which can help you extend your reach and visibility.
- Claim your Facebook business page. Did you know that if someone posts a check-in to your business, a page is automatically created? These pages are considered “unmanaged” and don’t make you look good. If you have an unmanaged page, claim it. If you don’t have a Facebook business page, create one now and start taking good care of it.
- Claim your Yelp business page. The benchmark report notes that too many businesses are ignoring Yelp and not responding to reviews there. In addition, numbers in a recent post from the LSA shows that outside of Google, “Yelp dominates organic results in most local business in the U.S.” Grab this opportunity to engage with your local customers by claiming your page.
- Monitor and respond to reviews, mentions and comments. Ratings and reviews don’t just happen on Yelp or Google anymore. A research report published by SOCi notes that “Consumers … are now also posting recommendations and reviews on social networks like Facebook—blurring the lines between traditional review sites and social media platforms.” Managing reviews could be a full-time job, but fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there to help you. Hootsuite offers a list of social media monitoring tools (including its own). And, for some guidance on managing Google reviews and how to respond to both positive and negative reviews, check out our post on “Customer Engagement Marketing and Google Reviews.”
Below are examples of some of the Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp local pages of McAlister’s Deli, one of the brands featured in the benchmark report and the one ranked first in LSM among all of the brands studied. The company has more than 400 restaurants around the country, but invests in marketing itself on a location-by-location basis.
Finally, here’s a summary of the top-level areas the benchmark reports recommends paying more attention to:
- Claim/verify and totally build out your business pages across the web
- Respond to negative or critical reviews the same day
- Monitor and respond to other messages from users on social media
- Develop a local content strategy for both Facebook and Google
- Don’t overlook Yelp
Now get out there and compete!
Let’s say it again: Nearly 80 percent of consumers report being influenced by social content when making purchasing decisions. So make sure you’re there for them to find and that you control your fair share of the conversation.
If you’re ready to build a comprehensive presence for your local small business, get in touch with us. We offer local SEO, paid social media ads and other services that can help you compete with anyone, anywhere.
5 Stats That Show the Power of Localized Social Marketing—statistics from SOCi’s Q4 2018 State of the Market report
3 Ways to Localize Your Marketing Strategy Through Video—the power of hyperlocal video
7 Mobile Social Marketing Tips to Connect With Mobile Users—ways to make your social media appeal to mobile users