Managing Localized Marketing During a Pandemic: 3 Tips for Multilocation Businesses to Thrive
COVID-19 has interrupted business as usual for nearly everyone. While social distancing is continuing to remain a necessity in most areas, it’s essential to continuously think about how to navigate a localized digital presence to remain top-of-mind for consumers.
Consider how consumers are looking for local business information during this global pandemic — local search and local social pages provide the up-to-date information consumers need to make a purchase decision. And this behavior didn’t start during the pandemic. A recently released report from SOCi found that the majority of business searches executed on these local listings ultimately converted.
Brands with multiple locations encounter unique issues when building and maintaining a digital presence — and the world has become even more digitally focused amid this pandemic. In times of uncertainty, consumers expect reliable, timely and mindful communication, and brands must deliver for all locations. This is where the concept of localized marketing comes into play. Localized marketing includes digital strategies that focus on building a local presence for a business, leveraging locally driven communication channels to reach the specific local communities it serves.
For the past few weeks, brands have been more reactive, which is understandable given the current situation. However, now is the time to start thinking about how you can be proactive with localized marketing efforts and prepare for what’s next. Here are three tips for how brands should be communicating during COVID-19:
1. Don’t be tone-deaf.
COVID-19 has severely affected the lives of people worldwide, and it's essential to recognize that. Brands must avoid coming across as tone deaf through any communication. While connecting with target audiences, keep empathy top of mind.
2. How can content be valuable?
As a brand, ask what you can do through content to improve communication, ease consumer confusion, and prove brand credibility. Themes for social posts include the following:
- Provide customers with ideas on how they can spend their time at home.
- Provide real-time updates on what your brand is doing and how consumers can help.
- Increase brand affinity with cause marketing and share your efforts.
3. Actively participate in digital conversations.
Posting on social media doesn’t end as you hit send. Actively engaging and responding to any comments, and maintaining reputation management are key.
Actively monitor the engagements each content topic is receiving, and build upon what’s working. Respond to any comment or review, and pose additional questions that elicit responses. The engagement is vital to helping the community feel heard during times of uncertainty.
Show that your brand is empathetic, not because it’s a strategy, but because it’s a core value.
Putting an emphasis on empathy, Good Neighbor Pharmacy shares its commitment to providing customers healthcare and wellness support during this difficult time.
COVID-19 is affecting every location differently, so the content that you share to your individual locations’ pages must mirror that. When a brand is personalizing and localizing empathetic content during a crisis, it's building brand trust with consumers, and that impact will far outreach the duration of the pandemic. And once brand trust is established, further build upon that relationship by continuing to share relevant, useful, localized content after the crisis subsides.
However, to prepare for the rebound, it’s beyond just localized social content. It’s essential to learn from consumers’ digital habits throughout the crisis. Everything has gone digital, and a brand’s marketing strategy must align. How can brands prepare for the recovery?
- Claim 100 percent of local pages on top search and social platforms, and populate with up-to-date information and rich images.
- Maintain active posting and engagement strategies across all search and social platforms.
- Respond to all comments and reviews, negative sentiment especially, within 24 hours.
If brands are prepared to meet consumers where they’re spending even more time digitally, you’re prepped to rebound and even gain momentum for the new landscape that lies ahead post-COVID-19.
Monica Ho is chief marketing officer at SOCi, the leading social media marketing and reputation management platform for multilocation businesses.