Using Social to Boost Local Relevance and Visibility

Using Social to Boost Local Relevance and Visibility
By Jay Hawkinson


Most enterprise brands utilize a local digital marketing strategy to ensure their many locations can easily be found online and help generate local leads, but if they’re not incorporating unique localized strategies specifically for social media they’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Social networks like Facebook return personalized search results which emphasize local content, such as nearby restaurants and shops. Click on Facebook’s search bar and a number of personal options appear including “nearby restaurants” signaling the growing importance Facebook puts on local results.

The best way to optimize social visibility is for a local business to build out local social pages specific to its location. Brands with many locations should consider pages for each of their locations on all of the top social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and link them back to the local website. An independent local business can manage this quickly and easily, but time constraints, lack of resources, scalability challenges, and concerns about compliance and brand messaging often keep national brands from implementing this strategy. Utilizing a technology platform to automate many of these tasks can ease the burden on enterprise brands, but even brands that aren’t ready to make that investment should consider two simple ways to localize social content.

Geo-target messages to the right people

Utilizing geo-targeting tools pushes localized content to targets only in relevant markets. When properly employed, Facebook’s post targeting tool can significantly increase the engagement and exposure of brand posts simply by removing large segments of fans to which the message doesn’t apply.

Many large brands boast Facebook pages with thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of fans. McDonald’s has more than 30 million fans all over the world that speak different languages and relate to different subjects; messages hyper-targeted to different audiences based on where they live; demographic traits such as age, sex, etc.; and interests will have far greater impact than a single generic message.

On Facebook, as engagement climbs, so does exposure. Each engagement creates a story with the potential to reach the News Feeds of that user’s friends; the more engagement a post receives, the more likely Facebook will include it in the coveted News Feed. Facebook’s algorithm updates have limited the reach of organic posts to a shrinking percentage of a page’s fans, increasing the importance of localizing content to boost engagement and increase the odds of reaching more fans. Post targeting provides a simple but effective way to put the right messages in the right geographic areas.

If an enterprise brand has created pages for each of its locations and set up the “Locations” relationship on Facebook, it can benefit from further targeting the messages it sends out by segmenting according to age, gender, relationship status, etc. Many social CRM tools have built these targeting capabilities into their platforms, allowing post targeting while enabling the ability to distribute a message to multiple Facebook accounts from a single interface.



On Twitter, brands can utilize geo-targeting tools to follow influential users who live in areas near one of the brand’s locations, which can build a local follower base of potential customers in service areas through highly visible interactions. Brands can also use social listening tools to monitor for tweets near physical locations that contain specific keywords, a great way to identify opportunities to provide timely, local content. For example, if someone tweets “hungry!” near a McDonald’s location, McDonald’s could respond with “Treat yourself to a Big Mac!” and include a coupon code.

Go SoLo with your ads

Since both Twitter and Facebook offer robust targeting capabilities, brands should consider using social local (SoLo) ads to target users based on location, interests, etc. Multi-location brands can target localized ad content to relevant zip codes or regions for each location, driving traffic and leads to location websites.

Brands without locations can still leverage SoLo ads to great effect. Instead of driving people to locations, brands can leverage local to boost the relevance of the ad’s product, offer or copy, significantly boosting performance. Not many snow boots sell in Maui, right? They can also control cost of the ads in this manner, connecting with users more efficiently, in markets that matter most, and reaching more of them while paying for less waste.




Ultimately, creating and maintaining social pages for each location delivers the best, most proven results. It’s a ripe opportunity for small businesses and an essential one for enterprise brands. The right technology can make this effectively scalable even for brands with thousands of locations, but brands in any situation can leverage these tips to localize social content, increase relevance, boost engagement and generate more leads and/or foot traffic.

Jay Hawkinson is an interactive marketing professional with 20 years of sales, marketing and merchandising experience including more than 12 years focused on organic search optimization, paid search advertising, local search, mobile and social media. Jay joined SIM Partners in 2006 as an equity partner developing ecommerce solutions and products for the travel and hospitality vertical. Jay currently oversees social media, mobile and emerging technology at SIM Partners, including social media optimization/engagement, mobile app design and development, and SoLoMo integration through Velocity Social. Before SIM Partners, Jay served as Media Sales Strategist for iCrossing where he grew the paid search division by improving campaigns and working in tandem with business development on new initiatives, working with such clients as Coca-Cola, Betty Crocker, Disney, Purina and Sprint/EMBARQ. Prior to iCrossing, Jay was the Director of Search Marketing at Proceed Interactive where he helped build the search marketing practice and worked with such clients as Chicago Hilton & Towers, Komatsu, Kohl’s Department Store and Hanes.