In this article we will cover a development within social media marketing that we identify as no less than a paradigm shift in the way branded content is being created and absorbed.
With the emergence of social media, brands have gone from a one-way communication style to dialogue-like communication. The change in the technological landscape has brought companies and consumers closer, which has brought about a need for authenticity in the way these companies communicate. Consumers simply wont engage with content that is not meant for them directly.
Because of this, companies have begun adapting the hyper local mindset for creating content that resonates. From a marketer-perspective this is both exciting and promising. It's brave to be genuine and as it turns out - it's also clever. Companies that follow local marketing strategies are indeed reaping the benefits.
Being hyper local means being as local as possible. It's a matter of getting as close to your customers as you can and communicate to them from that position. When a company goes hyper local they often involve their local staff, making the communication genuine as well as playful and personal. The result is connections with customers on a deeper level. The hyper local approach is getting more and more traction - in particular within retail and other multi-location based companies.
Every single company we've worked with has experienced a massive increase in organic reach and engagement representing a substantial value on its own. More importantly, companies following a hyper local content marketing strategy tend to see growth in day to day foot traffic. They are able to provide a homogeneous yet personal brand experience across multiple touch points – while communicating more tactically than from their main corporate channels. Marketers get a new source of customer insight and whole organisations benefit from showing trust internally when it comes to communicating with customers.
In the following we uncover how companies do this in order to show you how your company could do the same.
Many businesses have been inattentive to the simple premise of social media communication - the only term on which they can truly connect with people. And that is to be indeed… social. Shifting to a hyper local marketing strategy means creating content with a local context, tone and style in mind and not being scared of meeting customers eye to eye. It also means understanding that each of your local units represent a customer group (community) that is unique and needs to be addressed as such in order to fully reach the potential.
It is an essential part of the hyperlocal strategy to work with as many individual channels (ie. Facebook pages, Instagram accounts and so forth) as possible. One for each local unit if possible - to be monitored centrally, but operated by local personnel. Each local employee is an inactive potential social media manager - and given the opportunity they can fill out the role and provide all you need to add an authentic touch to your content.
Brands have to be authentically social in order to keep customers engaged. This calls for a specific and quite concrete way of producing content for social media. Content that is authentic. Content that is real.
"Data from our clients shows that when content is visibly local the organic performance increases by an average of up to 2500%"
Naturally, customers still want good-looking content of a high quality (and companies are wise to keep thinking about quality when building their brand), but first and foremost they react when it's real - as real as if it was made by one of their friends.
So how do you make your content authentic? This question has many detailed answers, but right now we will cover two of the less obvious yet most important aspects:
While hero content always has its value, your company shouldn't be silenced by a lack of it in your arsenal. While high quality video and beautiful graphics are great for building brand, that kind of content is anything but spontaneous - which makes it seem distanced. It was designed in a lab to make us feel something, but too often it doesn't. We have learned to detect that the sole purpose is commercial and while we as consumers love brands, we, for the most part, don't like commercials.
Instead - consider letting your local employees replace imagery with their own photos from the location. Let them give their input to the copy and let them help decide which products to push. Set the direction and let local personnel execute - at least once in a while.
This is exciting, because it limits the dependency on expensive hero content, since truly authentic content can (and one could argue; should) be made with nothing more than a smartphone. Because that's what 99% of private content is created with.
Keep in mind though, that a low production level isn't the same a being sloppy. You should still have high standards when it comes to delivering something of value built on true insight in your target audience.
You should aim to always include real people, ie. your own staff or your customers in your content. This is simply because seeing real people evokes emotion, and emotion is one of the key drivers of interaction. Think micro-influencers, but even more real.
For instance; content which shows real employees on images or videos and includes employees names, reactions, and opinions, highly outperforms professionally made videos - practically no matter what
"We have seen engagement rise up to 4100% when content, pushed through local channels, includes local staff"
Part of the sky-rocketing engagement growth is due to the high level of trust, this content generates. When customers recognize staff in photos and videos, they are more likely to comment and react to a post as the content comes across as more authentic.
If you want insider tips and learnings about producing hyperlocal content, you can download our eBook on the subject right here:
In the attempt to meet the need for genuine and authentic communication, retail chains and other multi-location businesses have started mobilizing the ones who are naturally able to deliver this. The real human beings who meet and interact with customers each and every day; their local employees.
Two of our clients; Toyota and the Danish beauty retail giant Matas are among the front-runners, who have begun seriously engaging local stakeholders in their social media marketing. The large companies are leading the way simply because they have the most to gain - and smaller companies are following suit. Companies like Matas have discovered how even the smallest improvements in online customer relations can result in an increase in traffic to their physical locations.
As it turns out, people are willing to go shopping in stores if the experience is good, so marketing this exact experience has become a priority. At the same time, physical retailers need to figure out ways to stay relevant in an age of digital disruption of consumer buyer journeys and behavior.
Another important reason local employees are your best bet for high-performing content is their close relationship and great insights into their local costumers. No one knows more about what they ask for - what they like, how they act, who they know, what they expect, what sells best - than local employees.
Read more about how personalized content generates high engagement here and quiz yourself on content right here.
Working with chains of retailers, car-dealers, fitness chains, restaurants, and even political parties, we have witnessed how local staff – if empowered by central marketing – is capable of achieving performance in organic engagement and reach that absolutely obliterates what is conjured up by marketing or agencies alone.
"Results are showing an average increase in reach of 25X on video and 6,9X on average on images."
These results are remarkable - and they are even measured on organic content. The best results are seen when local staff builds upon pro quality content made from HQ, giving it their touch of authenticity.
This is again due to the local employee's unique relationships to their customers. Local customer insight is a fundamental element in hyperlocal marketing, because it gives companies exclusive knowledge into behavior, demographics, local trends and events, etc. With these insights, local employees can help create content which resonates with the local environment in the best possible way.
Creating authentic content does not mean that it can't be tactical as well. The content should still revolve around the product offerings. In fact our data shows that the main reasons for following a local retailer are indeed to be presented with offers and products. Contrary to our initial belief, when the local retailers deviate too much from talking about products, people lose interest. You can read much more about this and other common concerns about going on social media on our blog or by downloading our eBook on the subject.
Brands who follow the approach of engaging their local staff often discover that they have untapped potential in their network of local units.
Imagine if your company shared content to all your local storefronts in ways so that your staff could easily tweak it into their own. Imagine how it would make local staff feel to be trusted with this responsibility.
As mentioned in the intro, companies that do this tend to see a growth in foot traffic as a result of an increase in their organic reach and engagement. They can create a meaningful personal brand experience across multiple channels – while communicating even more tactically than from their main corporate channels. Marketers get a new source of customer insight and whole organisations benefit from showing trust internally when it comes to communicating with customers.
"We have immense marketing powers in our local stores’ social media channels. Post Office helps us benefit from our local presence with a tool, that supports our local employees. Our stores are satisfied, because it is simple and easy to use and effective too - and we are delighted because of the results, we see."
- Maja Fabech, social media manager, Matas
You might be wondering if your company is ready? If your employees are up for the challenge? If your brand will suffer? If PR scandals will ensue? How much pressure this will put on customer service? If so, then you are like all other companies we've met. Of course this approach is not risk free and it demands an initial investment in time. The right strategies, workflows and tools need to be implemented for a successful local activation to take place. Brands are still uncovering the benefits and challenges of the local activation approach, but from what we have already seen from our clients, we firmly believe that activating local entities makes sense for both people – and business.
At Post Office Social, we offer a way to implement and organize a hyper local content marketing strategy. We help multi-location businesses produce, manage, and publish social media content that is truly authentic and relevant to an endless variety of very specific target audiences - and all of it is executed in one and the same tool.
Get all our learnings and insights from roaming the retail realm and managing social media content for several large retail chains; download our eBook "XXX" and learn all you need about how to produce high quality, hyperlocal content.
Are you ready to unleash the slumbering marketing potential of your local units?
Do you have anything to add or ask? Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org