We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog discussing the challenges and benefits of localizing your marketing strategy across both traditional and digital marketing channels, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a marketer that doesn’t see the value in the practice. But there’s one marketing channel where questions about localization remain and answers are hard to come by: social media.
When I was at the Integrated Marketing Week Conference in June, this was a continuing theme and topic of conversation, whether it came up in presentations, questions to speakers or simply conversations among attendees, so it’s clearly an issue of great consternation in the marketing community. That being said, let’s take a look at some possible strategies that can help businesses overcome the challenges of social media localization.
Having a rock star mentality
First, let’s alleviate a big concern marketers have with social media localization: turning off the audience outside of the targeted local area. After all, unless you place every new follower on a list by area (we’ll come back to this later), your message is going to show up in everyone’s news feed, not just the people in the area for whom the post is intended, therefore not everyone will find it relevant, and may even be annoyed by it. I think this concern, while understandable, may be a bit overblown.
Since its summer and summer means concerts and tours, I’ll turn to the music industry as an example. If you go to the Facebook page of an artist or band that’s on tour, you can see localization in action. They may ask their followers in the city of an upcoming show what songs they’d like to hear, for example, but the interesting thing you’ll find is people from other cities chiming in with answers. I’m no psychologist, but if people think their response might have some bearing on songs that are played when the artist/band comes to their town, they’ll chime in. Or maybe it’s just as simple as they want to engage with the group no matter the topic of conversation because anything the group says they find relevant.
The point is, if you’ve built a likable brand, I don’t think you have to worry about turning off any part of your audience. As long as you’re not spamming them with messages, the worst they’ll do is see the message is for another locale and simply ignore it.
Status update/post-specific strategies
So now that that’s out of the way, how do you go about localizing your social media content? There are a few strategies you can employ when posting an update or tweeting. Some may or may not be right for your business depending on your company size, the industry you’re in, or other variables, but they’re all worth mentioning.
Create and segment lists or groups for followers by location
As we mentioned earlier, if you have the time or personnel to do this, it can be a good strategy. As you begin to build followers, however, this can become an incredibly cumbersome and time-consuming task. It may work if you’re just getting into social media, but may not be sustainable.
Create new pages or accounts for major targeted areas
Some major companies on Facebook are experimenting with this strategy, but again, viability comes down to resources. More pages/accounts mean more time is needed to keep them updated and engaging. You also run the risk of diminishing returns on your main corporate social media pages. All-in-all, I would be very hesitant to implement this strategy.
Utilize hash-tags (#) on Twitter and Facebook
This is the simplest thing you can do on a post-by-post basis. Just add a #[city/area] to your post on Twitter and (as of recently) Facebook and you can insert yourself in the local conversation on either platform.
Engage with other local brands on social media
It never hurts to build relationships. Give a shout-out to other brands in the target area and be a champion of local business. Your followers will respect that and, if done properly, can add relevance to messaging. The brands themselves may take notice, and opportunities for promotional tie-ins down the road may present themselves.
Try and try again
As with many aspects of marketing (especially social media marketing), the best strategy to finding the best strategy is to keep trying new things and keep testing new theories. Strategies that work for big businesses may not work for SMBs and vice versa. The important thing is to not let small failures deter you from trying to localize your social media messaging. If you keep at it, eventually you’ll start to see a jump in engagement and improve returns from your social media channels.