Localizing the social media approach of a global brand can be tricky, but it's extremely important to a brand's success. Here are four tips for how to use social media to localize your company.
Despite the ability of social media to bring people together from around the world, there is an inherent localized aspect to the medium itself. Social media helps connect users to businesses, events, service providers, and organizations in their community. It helps to bring people together that live down the street but have never met. It allows friends to plan gatherings and invite others efficiently and cost-effectively.
Regardless of how large your brand is, you need to be offering a localized approach to social media. That doesn't mean you need a Facebook page for every state, city, or neighborhood, even if you have a physical store there. What it does mean is that you need to understand who your audience is, where they are (both physically and in their buying journey), and you need to know what matters to them. That way, you can offer a more personalized experience, which often means a more localized one.
But how can you get personal and local when you are a global brand? I won't pretend that it's easy, but it is possible and even more efficient with the help of social media. Following are four steps for localizing and personalizing your social media approach.
Social media provides a near endless supply of information about your customers and target audience. Analyze your fans and followers through Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics to see their age, gender, and location. As I explained in a previous ClickZ article, use Facebook's custom audience tool to get even more in-depth insights about their interests, demographics, relationship statuses, and so much more. While you're at it, be sure to evaluate Google Analytics data to see who is visiting your site, not just from social media sources, but from all referrals to get a true sense of your audience. Use this information to create customer personas that define who you are talking to, what their needs and motivations are, and where you can find them online and in the physical world as a result.
Once you know who you are talking to, you can modify how you talk to them in return. According to a study conducted last fall, females use more emotional and empathetic language. Therefore, if your audience is predominantly female, you need to match this tone to truly connect. If your audience is younger, use a less formal tone. If your audience is typically found in one area of the country, use the common dialect or slang from that area to better connect with them. For example, if you sell athletic gear, don't post about tennis shoes in New England unless you're specifically talking about shoes you wear while playing tennis. They call general athletic shoes "sneakers" and may be frustrated or even confused by "tennis shoes."
Most of the main social media networks offer some level of geo-targeting capability, either through their organic or paid platforms. Facebook allows for geo-targeting on organic posts down to the city level. If you don't see a compass on the status bar, go to Edit Page > General > Post Targeting and Privacy to enable this feature. In addition to location targeting, it allows you to target based on gender, relationship status, relationship interests, education level, age, and language.
Use the compass icon to target your messages to locations, or various other audience segments.
LinkedIn allows you to target organic posts down to the city level. You can't target all cities, however; just the ones within their system. On Pinterest, you can create Place Pins for a more geo-targeted focus and to highlight specific places or areas of interest relevant to your audience.
If you would like to get more granular with targeting, you'll have to spend a little money. Facebook and Twitter allow for ZIP code targeting within their advertising platforms as an additional paid feature.
Run tests with general messages and localized ones to see which posts get more engagement and drive more traffic. Read comments to gain insight into how well these localized and personalized messages are resonating with users. As you gather more quantitative and qualitative data, make adjustments, and test again for improved local engagement.
Localizing and personalizing your message, especially for a national or global brand, will take some work. You may not get it right the first time, and you'll have to continue optimizing to ensure it continues to work and doesn't ostracize users outside of your defined customer personas. But this personalized approach is what can really show users you know and care about them, and can result in a better connection and improved results.
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Angie Pascale is the social media director at Location3 Media, providing strategic direction for social media and content marketing campaigns, and helping to integrate social media, SEO, paid media and other digital marketing efforts for enterprise, franchise and multiunit brands.
Angie has provided content for a variety of industry conferences and publications, including the Google Website Optimizer Authorized Consultant Summit, Search Engine Strategies, SMX Social Media Marketing and eMarketing Association Conference.
Prior to joining Location3 in 2006, Angie was an account executive at Marich Communications, a literary, entertainment and consumer products publicity firm based in Los Angeles. She graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor's degree in English. Follow her at @angiepascale.
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