Visibility is good for brand but very often it’s the “visit me” that matters most. Can you use the twin online tactics of “local” and “social” to get customers to visit your local stores, stores that sell your stuff or even your site.
Local is about discovering “what’s out there” and there are three ways customers do this; through search, through social and by serendipity.
Google is increasingly dominated by local results; see the map, the local SERPs, geo-targeted PPC, etc. To appear here you need to be on Google Local, be reviewed by a local site or even, at a push, have a site of your own.
Facebook keeps on making stabs at local and Graph Search is a big step forward. Notice how places been to by friends and with lots of likes are doing well. To be here you need to have added data to Facebook. This contrasts Google and Facebook. Google promised the FTC that it would revise “scraping” content.
Then there’s serendipity – that’s when people just discover, at the right time, a cool new place to investigate. Seen by many as the magical future and has been dominated by apps. However; barely any movement in this area since my 2012 SES London “Local & Social” chat. Have we stalled?
To qualify for either of the Search, Social or Serendipity companies just need to qualify. They just need to be present on the platforms that are being used.
Wait… let’s sanity check “in it to win it”.
Being on a platform and qualifying for local+social won’t be enough for some people.
Firstly, don’t forget that offline improves your online. If you’ve an offline presence then that’s an online asset. Do what you can to get offline visitors to leave an online footprint.Tim Cook, of Apple, said this week; “The store acts as a gathering place… that has an important role in the community. I’m not sure store’s the right word anymore.”
Understand what’s important. G+ Local has “People like you”, “just you” and “your circles” and all sorts of scores. The place at the top of list is not the closest. It happens to have the highest score and the most reviews… which matters most. It doesn’t need a website for any of these things.
Each factor was given 3 points if it was the biggest/best match or 1 point for a draw. Chart shows distribution of possible points. Keep in mind the correlation / causation uncertainty between “Number of Reviews” and “People Like You”. Does one cause the other?
Community is important. Community is what takes one footprint – a single brand footprint in the local space – and amplifies it socially. To grow the community you need to engage with people; talk to them, interact with them and win their attention. Innocent drinks do this well through a quirky facebook page.
Community does not just give social amplification it gives you loyalty too. Loyalty means customers tend to choose you over competitors. Loyalty means more local brand searches. Loyalty influences key metrics like conversion rates.
Once you have loyalty and people willing to explain you – then you have greater freedom, can be bolder, braver an more effective.
So, how do you engage with a community? Social is clearly one way to do it. Social is all about connecting with people. That’s why all marketing is social. However, modern SEO also works a charm – we’re talking outreach, we’re talking giving people actual opportunities with news, content and involvement. Paid media also works provided you have a community base to accept the incoming attention. In other words, once you have some loyalty and only when you’re capable of generating it.
A key element to this engagement is having appropriate content and news. What does good content look like? It’s shareable, topical and local. As we’ll see in my real life examples; sometimes just sharing a locally relevant photograph is enough to start growing a community.
Opened on the edge of residential Edinburgh, nothing but scrapheaps, abandoned railway yards and docks on three sides of it. Bizarrely, some locals worried it would bring the area down – having replaced a 9am drinking pub that did karaoke 4 nights out of 7. They don’t yet have a website because they paid a local developer in crates of beer – which he’s still processing. They do have a Facebook page and Twitter. Twitter is best when they have their laptop open and reply. It’s pointless otherwise. Facebook works well for them when they photograph the daily menu and share it before lunch. They’ve benefited from doing events with local suppliers and groups (like a pizza club) and sharing the pictures afterwards.
Nameless bar – part of a franchise, wanted to be different in order to compete with the gastro pubs and specialist restaurants in the area. Got permission to rebrand and redecorate… but there’s no online presence. No local listings for the new name yet. It couldn’t command the loyalty of the community it wanted to target, in fact, when you search for them you find the community (craft beers) dismissing them. They need local+social to turn that around but that means finding a community they can win over.
Sometimes brands have two types of local – local nearby and local remote. For example, hotels might want to woo local businesses to use their conference facilities while also staying in the loop of sports fans visiting from other locations too. This Choice Hotels page is interesting. You’ll likely be directed to your country page when you visit but, and after a special project, if you click on the cog wheel and pick “Select Region” you can access “local content” from a different country.
Local & SocialMaximising VisiblityAndrew GirdwoodDigitasLBiMedia Innovations DirectorLondon| 18–21 February
London| 18–21 February 2013 | #SESLON @AndrewGirdwood