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Social Search Concerns for National Multi-Location Brands

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Social media management can be problematic for businesses of all sizes but is arguably most complicated for large multi-location brands, particularly following the advent of Facebook Graph Search and updates to Facebook Nearby. It is now no longer sufficient for national brands to rely on one social presence at the corporate brand level.

With a new focus on local search, Facebook has upped the stakes significantly for multi-location brands. According to a comScore local search study, consumers already search locally on Facebook. The study found that Facebook was second to only Google Maps as the place people go to conduct local searches on mobile devices.

In light of these trends, national brands should respond by building out local Facebook pages for each of their many locations if they want to compete with local and national competitors in each of their markets. Only a local presence can deliver the engagement and local flavor required to penetrate Graph Search and Nearby.

Developing a social media strategy that works across all of a brand’s locations, however, is difficult, and several roadblocks should be considered before jumping in.

Management

How does a national brand manage the social media presence of hundreds or even thousands of locations? They could hand over social media management to each location or choose someone at the regional level to be responsible for a group of locations.

Carefully choosing the right person(s) to handle social media at the local level is a great step toward developing a successful localized social media strategy that can deliver a powerful presence in social search; however, it also brings up a few additional issues to consider.

Brand Integrity

How should brands ensure each location posts content that is on message and aligns with overall brand goals? The voice and frequency of posts also matter. Local fans should never be greeted by a blank Facebook page.

These challenges are multiplied when locations are allowed to handle their own social media management. Creating social media guides that clearly outline the appropriate messaging, voice, and posting frequency for a brand is critical in educating social media managers and aligning the overall social strategy.

Customer Service

Having a customer service call line won’t stop customers from asking questions (and expecting answers) via social media. Brands should have a plan in place to ensure each location understands how to appropriately respond to customer inquiries and does so promptly and positively.

Customer service issues not handled properly can become amplified very quickly across social media platforms. Left unresolved, this can hurt a brand’s image. Empowering locations’ social media managers with a plan that specifically outlines how to handle different types of customer service issues or complaints can help avoid potential problems.

Offers

When promoting offers across locations, brands should work to ensure consistency and devise a plan to verify that locations are promoting appropriate offers. Brands also need to monitor and ensure that different locations or franchisees don't undercut one another by offering differing discounts.

As brands develop their social media strategies, they should determine a process for pushing out appropriate offers to the right locations and monitor what each location promotes.

Compliance

If a brand falls under FINRA, IIROC, FSA or any other regulatory board, it must ensure its locations manage their social media in a compliant way.

Tools exist for brands to help locations manage their social media while maintaining compliance. According to FINRA executives, FINRA looks for three things when it comes to social. That the firm:

  1. Has robust social media policies and procedures in place.
  2. Has implemented those policies and procedures.
  3. Is complying with record-keeping and retention requirements.

The importance of developing social media guidelines and procedures for a brand is critical if the brand operates in a regulated industry. When creating these policies and procedures, ensure that each location and social media manager reads them carefully and signs to verify they read them and will abide by them.

In order to be compliant, a brand also needs to enlist the use of a social archiving tool to archive both outgoing messages from all of your locations as well as third party comments. It is important to choose a tool that makes recalling this information as effortless as possible.

Corporate Content

Oftentimes brands develop content at the corporate level that can be repurposed for social media messaging. This is a great way to ensure that social media at the local level aligns with all other ongoing marketing efforts.

Pre-approved content that is localized and a chosen method for delivering this content to each location should be a part of your localized social media strategy. This content can act as the foundation to ensure regular posting so that locations that find it difficult to come up with relevant content to post won’t have empty or outdated social media feeds.

Social CRM

Social CRM tools can help automate and scale these efforts. A good social CRM tool allows brands to:

  • Post to multiple locations at once.
  • Host pre-approved messaging for location use.
  • Streamline social monitoring for the brand.
  • Ensure compliance by archiving each post and interaction for easy review.

Some social CRM tools also provide custom workflows to help automate and simplify customer service issues with social media.

Last of all, brands should look for a social CRM tool that offers insight into their social media performance across locations. If the success and return on investment of a social media strategy cannot be tracked, it’s impossible to tell if money is wasted or well spent. Social CRM tools should help brands identify which areas to focus more time and resources on in order to optimize return on investment.

Developing a successful localized social media strategy can seem overwhelming, but by implementing the tips above and seeking out a social CRM tool from a trusted partner that fits a brand’s needs, the process can be vastly simplified.


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