How to Localize Your Global Store Through Social Media
When localizing your global brand, your employees are your greatest asset. They're in constant communication with customers, taking the pulse of local values and interests. And cheerful, helpful employees will promote your brand better than even the sleekest corporate marketing campaign.
However, it's not enough to have a great in-store team. You need to continue the conversation with local customers on social media to personalize the relationship and keep your brand top of mind. O2 Telefónica UK recently proved the power of social media by earning £90,000 (more than $130,000) in media value within six months of launching a localized, employee-based social media campaign.
Still, many companies fail to use social media effectively.
Corporate vs. Local Marketing
People don't shop for the best-known brands; they shop for popular brands that cater to the local community and are convenient. In fact, one in four smartphone users prioritizes proximity when searching for stores. That's why local mobile ad spending should reach $18 billion by 2016.
No marketing strategy is complete without a strong social component. Research shows that consistently positive customer service is more effective for retaining customers than loyalty programs and general improvements. In fact, nearly 63 percent of consumers choose where to shop based on how friendly the staff is.
Similarly, 78 percent of consumers have chosen not to make a purchase based on a negative customer service experience. What's more, research shows that it takes approximately 12 positive experiences to make up for one poor experience.
Social media recommendations strongly influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. Customers will be more likely to come back if your team builds trust with them.
Getting Employees Involved With Social Media
Think about your social media strategy. Are you focusing solely on your corporate accounts or leveraging your employees’ social profiles and blogs as well? Enterprise companies have approximately 178 potential social assets, but only 25 percent of those organizations train their teams on using these accounts to connect with customers.
That's a huge missed opportunity. Here's how to harness your employees potential in your local social media strategy:
1. Empower your team. Your employees are on the front line of customer service, and they wield significant influence over whether shoppers become repeat customers.
Your team knows your brand and, more importantly, your customers better than anyone. When it comes to local needs and preferences, they're walking encyclopedias of consumer knowledge. However, they won't use it if they're afraid of violating company policy or losing their jobs. Encourage teammates to engage with customers on social media to establish rapport and invite them into the store.
2. Encourage authenticity. You want employees to positively represent your brand, but you don't want robots. A social strategy only works if you let your employees authentically express themselves. Brief your team members on the dos and don'ts of interacting with customers online, then let them post, share and comment in ways that are comfortable and natural.
3. Make it easy. Don't overburden your employees with social media duties or insist that they spend their time chatting with customers on Twitter. Your employees have laundry lists of priorities at work and at home, so make it easy for them to participate. Give them a simple app or social media integration system that lets them engage with just a few clicks.
By incorporating local retail employees into your social media marketing efforts, you add reach and authenticity to your brand voice. Customers are loyal to people they know, not company logos. Your retail teammates are your brand's true voices, so give them the tools to feel confident and excited about evangelizing to your markets.
Russ Fradin is a digital media industry veteran and an angel investor with more than 15 years of experience in online marketing. He's founder and CEO of Dynamic Signal, a platform for empowering employees to be effective brand advocates.