They say that all politics is local. For many large companies, so is social marketing. Sure, politicians appearing on the Sunday morning talk shows or in front of the Capitol will undoubtedly be rocking their power suits and sounding as polished as possible. But when they’re back in their home districts, in order to connect with the voters, they strive to look, talk and act like “one of the people”. Also, while they might be trying to fix Social Security in Washington, when they’re back in Des Moines, it’s all about making sure Joe Shmoe’s street gets paved. Because that guy votes…and he’s got a mouth on him, so his problem better get fixed or else everybody’s going to hear about it.
President VS. Man of the People
For large retailers, the Facebook marketing experience is strikingly similar. Facebook is, after all, an amazingly democratic forum where the voices – and all manner of opinions – of “the people” are heard loud and clear. Facebook can also be an incredibly local forum, though a global media. Many of us know friends living in different parts of the country – or world – and their voices, opinions, photos and concerns are certainly not identical. Retailers with hundreds of locations spread across the country have a unique dilemma in social marketing. How do you maintain brand consistency while connecting with “the people” who shop at your individual outlets? And how to manage so much social content? Here’s how two companies with hundreds of local outlets – and Facebook pages – do it (hint: decentralization).
Simon Malls owns hundreds of shopping malls across the nation. Each mall has its own Facebook page and Simon assigns at least one digital point of contact to each local region to oversee digital marketing efforts. Simon provides each of these regional contacts with hands-on training and though they receive direction and guidance from Simon HQ in Indianapolis, IN, they’re empowered to act and market locally. Simon favors central guidance, including regularly scheduled conference calls and email newsletter prototypes, combined with local action – such as customizing the newsletter forms with copy relevant to local customers. Simon Malls deploys roughly 200 localized Facebook pages. According to this article in Read Write Web, part of the key to their success is measurement. Robust analytics and comprehensive measurement is the only way to manage so many pages and uncover key insights about such a diversity of content. Among the insights Simon’s analytics have uncovered? Different Facebook communities have different content tastes depending upon mall and location. Some respond to content that is more value-centric, some to content that is more fashion-centric and some to content that is more family-focused.
Lessons From Simon Malls on Localized Facebook Marketing:
- Guidance and content from corporate HQ ensure brand consistency & quality, but be sure to make it customizable to be authentic for local audiences
- Comprehensive analytics aren’t just about measuring performance, they’re about uncovering local preferences in terms of content
- By assigning a local/regional digital marketing point person, you’ll be sure to be more relevant to local audiences
Whole Foods Markets takes Simon Malls’ regional digital manager model and makes it even more granular. According to this SlideShare from Ryan Amirault, Digital Marketing Manager for Whole Foods Markets, each of the company’s 330+ U.S. stores has a dedicated marketing and community relations professional. MediaBistro captured some thoughts from Whole Foods’ director of social media and digital marketing, Natanya Anderson, speaking recently at Ad Age’s Digital Conference in New York. According to the MediaBistro piece: “We have different expectations for local social”, Anderson noted, and they follow a plan:
- The brand acts as the local authority and connects to residents’ lives by featuring local products.
- They focus on creating and curating content. Their new Detroit store will feature different offerings than their east coast stores.
- Local employees are dedicated to customer service. For example, they can snap photos of products that customers request.
- Local staff members often email Anderson before posting on their local social platforms. “We’re adding a local crisis management element”, she said.
- They have dedicated mailing lists to disseminate information to local customers.
Additionally, Anderson noted that Whole Foods has zeroed in on four specific areas of focus in terms of local social marketing: brand social, city social, functional social (i.e. healthy eating) and store social.
Lessons From Whole Foods on Localized Facebook Marketing:
- You should have different expectations for local Facebook marketing – and for Whole Foods those expectations focus on customer service and curating content.
- Corporate HQ can provide a ‘content framework’ to help organize and drive local content customization. In Whole Foods’ case, it’s creating four areas of focus – brand social, city social, functional social (i.e. healthy eating) and store social.
- Local isn’t just in-store. For Whole Foods, it’s “city social” and “store social”. It’s about being a good neighbor and cross promoting other events and content of interest that transcend what’s on sale. It’s really about being a valuable, helpful part of the community.