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7 steps to localize your social media campaign

Peter Heffring
7 steps to localize your social media campaign Peter Heffring

According to a new report from the CMO Council, nearly half (49 percent) of all senior marketing execs believe that a localized marketing strategy is essential to business growth and profitability. The organization recently surveyed more than 300 senior company leaders to come up with a "C-suite" view of the current state of localized marketing strategies and tactics. 

What are the benefits of "going local?" Roughly two-thirds of respondents said that localized marketing content had greater relevance to consumers, driving higher response rates and repeat business -- what we call "engagement" in the digital realm. Other key benefits include: "better conversations," and the creation of "loyal brand advocates" -- clearly good stuff.  

But the majority of companies aren't tracking the efficacy of their national campaigns on a local level. About half of companies have "reasonably effective" or "underperforming" localized marketing programs, and less than a third have adopted platforms that help automate the deployment and measurement of local campaigns.

So, marketers understand that localized campaigns and content improve relevance and engagement, ultimately driving sales. However, most aren't measuring, automating, or otherwise executing on the local front. The consensus seems to be that companies don't understand local market dynamics, aren't sure how to measure their local efforts, and are hamstrung by the intricacies of creating and executing a localized strategy. 

Having a localized marketing strategy is particularly relevant for social media efforts, and at Expion, we've seen clients like Applebee's and Group 1 Automotive successfully execute localized social marketing campaigns. They're actively tracking stats like how the content they post on Facebook and Twitter increases engagement, improves customer service efforts, and drives in-store sales -- and they're doing it well.

Why are some companies so adept at executing on the local social front, while others seem to struggle? We've found that success in localized social media marketing is built on two main elements: a robust technology platform and a high-level localized marketing roadmap.

Without social software that supports content creation, collaboration, governance, and analysis, an effective local-social marketing strategy is almost impossible to achieve at scale. While the "right" platform will be determined by many factors, we've found that a winning local-social roadmap has seven steps, regardless of other variables. 

Choose your high-level strategy

  • Geo-target local content from a main national or brand account. This is a common tactic used by large brands like Chili's Grill & Bar to target regional and local messaging.

  • Create local pages that are centrally managed, giving national or corporate "parents" like Don Pablo's control over all content creation and moderation.

  • Local pages managed locally with corporate oversight. This fully integrated approach empowers local users to post and moderate content, complete with corporate support and governance from parent brands like Barnes & Noble.

The following two steps will only be applicable to brands that choose to create separate local pages that are either managed at the corporate level, or by local stores or regions themselves. 

Build the local team

  • Define responsibilities -- from marketing-specific roles for creating, approving, and posting content, to moderating conversations at brand, regional, and local levels

  • Recruit local team members and explain the "big picture" marketing goals as necessary

  • Train local team members on appropriate protocol

Build the local fan base 

  • Encourage local employees to have friends "Like" the page

  • Create fan-recruiting contests (for employees and existing fans)

  • Use social apps to promote engagement and the sharing of content

The remaining steps are vital for every company that wants to create a successful local-social marketing strategy.

Manage governance

  • Define and set permissions for each user at the national, regional, and local levels

  • Simplify local users' workflow with clearly defined, specific tasks

  • Use keyword scans that alert local managers and corporate marketing staff to protect the brand

Content planning

  • Create an editorial calendar that integrates national and local messaging

  • Provide suggested posts for the week so local users always have a menu of good content

  • Share the best content across systems to optimize engagement


  • Assess customer comments on Facebook and Twitter in the context of the sentiment and the users' overall profile

  • Review and respond to customer communications in a timely fashion

  • Establish a triage process to route flagged content to the appropriate corporate or national staff (with human resources or legal issues, for example)

Analysis and measurement

  • Analyze reach, engagement, and responsiveness to customers and compare to the competition

  • Identify the most engaging posts and share the strategies behind them across the system

  • Identify the sentiment of both messages and fans to shape future campaigns

There is some flexibility with the execution of each step in the roadmap on a per-company basis. The metrics each company measures will be different, as will the need for multi-tiered levels of governance. It's also an ongoing process, so content that the company analyzes and defines as engaging one week, for example, gets added to the editorial calendar during content-planning the next week. Ultimately, we think that any company will be well-positioned to effectively launch, manage, and measure their local-social media campaigns by using these seven steps in conjunction with the right supporting software.

Peter Heffring is president and CEO of Expion.

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