It’s a time-worn phrase: “location, location, location.” Yet with the interconnectedness that the internet has brought and the close relationships that can be forged around the globe through social media, it sometimes feels like physical location has become irrelevant.
I’m here to tell you that this is a myth.
Where people live, work, and interact with their loved ones defines them. If your brand can connect with people on that level, you can create communities that will not only strengthen your brand equity, but will also revolutionize your ability to convert leads.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, the same platforms that created the global locationless community are still the best way to connect — even on an intimate local level.
Social Media Is Integral to Hyperlocal Marketing
There’s no doubt that social media is key to localized interactions, especially between a brand and its target consumers. For instance, when consumers needs to know what time the hardware store around the corner closes, they probably won’t call. Instead, they’ll peruse the business’s Facebook page or send a tweet. Brands know this and are savvier about it than ever, making sure to interact directly with their targets on these platforms.
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are just a few that have worked hard to host geotargeting features to meet the demand for hyperlocal marketing tools. The geotargeting focus is a culmination of several overarching trends — from a heightened focus on user-generated content to forging friendly relationships with brands. And by using social networks to connect with your targets, you can fulfill a multitude of their wants and needs.
Here’s what each platform is bringing to the hyperlocal table:
- Facebook: The platform was an early adopter of using location-based data and advertising, and it continues to introduce more tools such as local awareness ads. Facebook is far and away the most used platform for local businesses. You’ll already be ahead of the game when employing a hyperlocal strategy here because consumers almost expect it.
- Twitter: Twitter is the best-suited platform for direct conversations with your community. While it has integrated location services, they’re not quite as regularly utilized as Facebook’s equivalents. However, tools such as the geolocated search in the Hootsuite dashboard allow you to turn highly personal conversations into a powerhouse of location-based targeting by actually searching Twitter activity within certain geographic parameters.
- Pinterest: In 2012, Pinterest added the “Place Pins” feature, opening up an entirely new world of location-based marketing possibilities. Brands can pin their store locations and services or even create a board featuring nearby attractions.
- Instagram: You can engage with potential clients in the same direct conversational tone as you would on Facebook in the comments section of your posts, but the use of hashtags — especially location-based hashtags — is much more robust on Instagram. Don’t bombard your targets with sales pitches, but don’t be afraid to reach out in an authentic way. When searching through relevant location-based hashtags, liking pictures is always appreciated. Even simple comments such as “Great shot!” can go a long way in connecting your business with new people.
Leverage Social Media Monitoring to Find Local Trends
At this point, you’re well aware of the importance of data, but social media monitoring can add an entirely new dimension to your analytics, not to mention take your hyperlocal strategy to the next level.
However, even the best social listening tool will be rendered useless if you don’t know how to properly leverage its data. At Mitchell, we often use social listening tools to help clients see and hear what their key audiences are saying about their brands or even to gain competitive information. For one restaurant brand, we used it to identify how a new menu offering was received; for a major corporation, we used it to monitor negative feedback on new policy changes. And geotargeting has been very useful to garner attention for local grand opening events.
Of course, none of this information does any good if it doesn’t lead to conversions. To that end, here are four best practices:
1. Prioritize quality over quantity. As a skilled marketer, you know how vital high-quality content is to converting leads. Don’t let the sheer volume of opportunity available on social media tempt you. Choose which platforms to use, and develop a strong presence with excellent follow-up and engagement. Not being on any one platform won’t damage your brand, but having social media accounts that you’re not keeping up with can hurt you a lot.
2. Adapt to different platforms. Not all social networks are created equal. For example, different platforms work on different time frames. Once you’ve begun engaging with your community, you can’t afford to let the ensuing opportunities pass you by.
Twitter, in particular, is fast-paced. When people tweet, they’re engaged in that conversation for the next couple of minutes. If you can catch them in the moment, you could win big. If not, they’ll move on to the next brand. Think about how you will leverage a customer raving about your brand. And on the flip side, you need to have a crisis plan in place should your consumers engage with negative feedback.
3. Tailor your story to the location. Look for a common thread and capitalize on it. Perhaps create a partnership opportunity with a local blogger to tell a story that your targeted audience will really connect with. Insert yourself into the conversation when it feels natural.
While not social-media focused, GrubHub did a great job targeting Chicagoans when it sent out an email marketing campaign joking about the city’s terrible weather. The brand empathized with customers and offered its delivery services as a convenient alternative to braving the weather. The conversation is always moving forward. Listen, then jump in on the action when it makes sense.
4. Provide actionable, exclusive information. After you’ve established relationships with your target consumers on a more local level, you can work to drive them through the purchase funnel. In that vein, make sure you’re broadcasting actionable, relevant, and personalized information. For instance, if you work for a consumer products brand, let targets know exactly where they can buy your products and inform them of upcoming special events or sales in the area.
No matter the size or location of your brand, hyperlocal campaigns are one of the most effective ways for you to establish a presence on a local level and set the foundation for an authentic brand-consumer relationship. There is no better way to harness this power than social media networks. What are you waiting for?
Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, an award-winning public relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses, and brands through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement. The agency is headquartered in Fayetteville, Ark., with offices in Chicago and New York City.
Mitchell is part of Dentsu Aegis Network, which is made up of nine global network brands and supported by its specialist/multimarket brands. Dentsu Aegis Network is Innovating the Way Brands Are Built for its clients through its best-in-class expertise and capabilities in media, digital, and creative communications services. Offering a distinctive and innovative range of products and services, Dentsu Aegis Network is headquartered in London and operates in 145 countries worldwide with over 30,000 dedicated specialists.
Clark is one of the top strategic communications professionals in the country, with more than 25 years of experience in corporate communications and an exceptional track record in protecting corporate reputations and redefining perceptions in key areas of business.