First, companies wanted to gain global appeal. Then, they realized that their audience wanted a personal relationship with the brands that they used, which meant reaching those customers and prospects on a more localized level. Combined with the growing trend for reliance on mobile to research, find, engage and buy brands, hyperlocal social marketing has emerged as a growing strategy for large brands to reach and connect with their audiences.
With consumers using the check-in function on sites like Facebook, the message is that they want others, including business, to know where they are so they can receive information that helps make it easier to find what they need or what’s available while they are there. In turn, it gives companies an opportunity to deliver on those needs with localized offer while learning more about how they behave in these areas.
The desire to connect socially on a local level has also led to hyperlocal private social networks like Townsquared and NextDoor. Even Google is getting involved by turning Google Maps into more of a social app where users can create reviews, add photos and share information about what they are doing in that general vicinity. This is consumer data gold for businesses.
Hyperlocal social marketing is also an online and mobile strategy that can work for smaller brands, taking the best practices of these larger brands such as Ritz Bits, U.S. Cellular, Miller Lite and Allstate, and applying them to their own localized marketing approach.
Defining Hyperlocal Social Marketing
Agencies and companies participating in hyperlocal social marketing have a clear definition in mind about what it means. Sanjay Gupta, CMO of Allstate, explained, “Hyperlocal social marketing allows brands to communicate to a group of individuals with similar interests in a specific community or neighborhood. Providing agents with opportunities to connect with customers on a more personal level further demonstrates that they care about them and the local community.”
This type of marketing tactic then helps reinforce part of Allstate’s culture in the hearts and minds of external and internal customers, reinforcing their “Good Hands” pledge. It’s one of the few authentic ways that the insurance company has found to fulfill this pledge and truly get to know customers on a more personal level.
Consumer brand and parent company of Oreo’s and Ritz Bitz finds that hyperlocal social marketing helps shape their strategic approach. As Stephen Chriss, Senior Director – North America Marketing Activation & Strategic Partnerships for Mondelez, said, “In today’s innovative and technology enabled world, there are many ways for our great snack brands, such as Oreo, Ritz, Trident and Triscuit, to market to consumers. Right place, time, and message are very much a part of how we think about ‘hyperlocal.’”
Pear, a marketing platform that works with these big brands on developing hyperlocal social marketing strategies, finds that greater success comes from focusing on smaller segments of consumers than traditional online channels. As Amish Tolia, Pear’s Chief of Strategy, stated, “For brands, the key to actively engaging their target audiences is by reaching them within their everyday lives. By connecting with the right consumers at the right place and time, brands are much more likely to make a lasting impact and see a return on investment than they are with generic marketing campaigns.”
The Value Of Hyperlocal Social Marketing
For their investment in hyperlocal social marketing, these brands are realizing an incredible return. For example, Mondelez’s brand, Ritz Bits, recently sponsored over 1,000 youth soccer teams across the country and built positive relationships with team parents in the process. As part of these local sponsorships, the brand encouraged the teams to share social content. The result for Ritz Bits has been more than 100,000 digital brand engagements and a 77% lift in purchase intent among their target demographic.
According to Pear, this sponsorship tactic has been an effective way to “reach group organizers in their target demographics, which creates a ripple effect through their community and social networks.” Hyperlocal social marketing becomes a new way to leverage the idea of brand advocates but do so in a way that creates value online and offline.
An additional benefit of hyperlocal social marketing is the ability to be a part of a very local conversation, which builds upon the national messaging that a brand typically works toward. However, not all messaging on that national scale is relevant to every consumer. Therefore, the ability to customize some of this messaging and reach into a community through the development of an authentic local story helps to reach those consumers that may have disregarded the national messaging.
Is It For Your Business?
While it’s an effective marketing strategy as shown with these brands, it may not be every brand out there. It’s important to consider if your product or service has such a localized audience in which to apply this type of strategic tactic. As shown here, hyperlocal social marketing is particularly effective when a brand is looking to get more involved in giving back to their local community or participating in sponsorships.
However, as Pear’s Tolia explained, there is a compelling reason for brands of all sizes to have a hyperlocal presence to develop those critical personal relationships with individual consumers and communities. According to him, “Consumers have become numb to today’s traditional marketing strategies, so brands that execute unique strategies that reach consumers in unsaturated channels are much more likely to create lasting relationships. Brands that can break through the marketing noise by connecting with consumers on a local level can more effectively meet consumers where they are and make a lasting impact on their target audiences.”
As Mondelez’s Chriss noted, hyperlocal social marketing works as part of a larger marketing strategy that includes many tactics and channels. The company uses digital and social vehicles, programmatic and targeted TV, and local experiential programming to reach its target audience at all levels. In this way, even small businesses can identify ways to include this unique marketing tactic into their overall strategy.
The Do’s And Don’ts Of Hyperlocal Social Marketing
Before jumping into hyperlocal social marketing, be sure to know what you are doing and how it should and shouldn’t be used. According to Jared Golden, President of Pear, hyperlocal social marketing must involve putting the consumer first above all else. As he explained, “A consumer’s community is the center of his or her world, and brands must identify what matters most within this network and align their marketing efforts accordingly.”
In developing your hyperlocal social marketing messages, don’t forget to personalize the communication. Also, don’t reuse the same theme or topic for each campaign because something that resonated a few months ago may no longer be on the top of the minds of those in each local community. Lastly, don’t forget to do the necessary research to find out what these local communities find relevant to their lives and needs. If you don’t create relatable content, your brand will fall flat.
Another do is to make sure that the engagement is as authentic as possible. Consumers can easily sense when something is fake or forced. When consumers feel that, they will not trust you. Focus on the intent of building a real relationship, and consumer trust will follow along with entrance into their local community. Whether a large or small brand, or somewhere in-between, do try hyperlocal social marketing and see how it changes how you attract and retain customers.
This post originally appeared on Forbes