Managing social media for multi-location businesses: Tips and best practicesBy Lawrence Dy
A 2023 survey found that a jaw-dropping 98 percent of digital consumers between the ages of 16 and 64 had been active on at least one social media platform the previous month (Raffingers Marketing). Some 77 percent of internet users turn to social media first when they want to learn about a brand, underscoring how important it is for companies — especially multi-location businesses — to have an accurate, engaging social media presence (Global Web Index).
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For agencies interested in dipping their toes into social marketing or adding to solutions already in place, here’s a look at what goes into successfully a multi-location marketing strategy and managing social media for businesses with multiple locations.
Table of Contents
- Why is social media important for multi-location businesses?
- 4 main challenges of managing social media for multi-location businesses
- Expert tips for managing social media for multi-location businesses
- Best practices for managing multi-location social media
- Frequently asked questions
Why is social media important for multi-location businesses?
White-label social media management agencies are tasked with using social media to help clients reach their goals. For businesses with multiple locations, posting on channels like Facebook and Instagram can help increase reach not only for the brand but for each brick-and-mortar locale.
By correctly utilizing social media, multi-branch companies can:
- Increase brand visibility. Multiple pages translate to exponentially more exposure. Keep branding consistent and post a combination of high-level brand content and location-specific information.
- Focus on localized marketing. Having one page spanning a large geographic area means you have to stick to broad messaging that speaks to every possible demographic. Localized pages can be tailored and tweaked in ways national pages can’t.
- Manage brand reputation. The role of social media in reputation management can’t be underestimated. When customers post on a business page sharing feedback about their experience at a local store, hearing back from a local rep feels more authentic — like someone hands-on at that location cares.
- Boost engagement. Email marketing, Google Ads, blogs, and ebooks are all useful tools, but they can largely feel like one-way conversations. Social media invites consumers to engage with brands about their products and services and even broader topics like local events or industry news.
4 main challenges of managing social media for multi-location businesses
While multi-location marketing is essential, it’s not easy to plan or execute. Tackling the social media needs of a company with several locations is an exercise in agility, with success dependent on how deftly marketers can navigate these challenges.
1. Consistency of brand voice and messaging
Leaving marketing in the hands of each individual location or franchise owner can result in inconsistencies that undermine company branding and, eventually, consumer trust.
Empowering a single entity, like a social media agency, to construct a social media style guide ensures everything from brand voice to promotional offerings always stay on target while running a multi-location marketing strategy.
2. Keeping track of multiple accounts and locations
Tracking multiple accounts/locations can put a strain on in-house resources, especially with time and budget. You should monitor and analyze data points for campaigns executed separately for each store or geographic region.
The same strategies could have very different results in one or more locations depending on audience reaction and how the campaign is rolled out in each area. That’s why changes should be made on a case-by-case basis.
3. Handling reviews and feedback across multiple locations
Since every store location should have its own social media page, they’re all open to reviews and feedback from separate customer sets.
Best practices demand a company rep combs through feedback to catalog pain points and user requests, but it’s also crucial to respond to both positive and negative comments. That can be a full-time job in itself, and you’ll need someone in that position familiar enough with the local business operations and community to formulate responses that make sense.
4. Ensuring compliance with local laws and regulations
Corporations are bound by privacy and data laws that govern who marketers can contact, how they can collect and store data, and how they must inform customers about data usage.
Laws like the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States, Canada’s anti-spam legislation, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union (EU) offer differing guidelines and limits that marketers must know to correctly execute a safe and legal social media campaign targeting users in those territories.
Expert tips for managing social media for multi-location businesses
For those interested in adding multi-location business marketing to their social media management packages, these tips can help you shape your offerings to be as attractive as possible for clients eagerly expanding their local marketing empires.
1. Develop a social media strategy and guidelines
The specifics of your social media strategy will differ from client to client, but having a basic plan or template gives you a launching pad that’ll help you pitch prospects and get new marketing campaigns off the ground quickly.
Start by establishing corporate guidelines (approved by the powers that be at your client’s HQ) that will be the basis for standardizing graphics, text-based content, and everything else that goes into running a business’s social media accounts.
Then put together a plan that outlines:
- What you hope to achieve with the campaign and the timeline in which you hope to achieve it
- Who your target audience is
- What you’ll be posting and when
- Which channels/platforms you’ll be using
- Which metrics you’ll track and how you’ll track/analyze that data
2. Use a social media management tool
Manual social media management is impractical and inefficient. Using a social media management tool to automate workflows and improve user experience is just one of many hacks that can help you maximize your resources while also improving results.
Vendasta’s social media management solutions help streamline projects, whether you’re managing a single social media account or hundreds of separate pages. From accessing and connecting accounts to scheduling posts to assign and tracking tasks, Vendasta’s platform is designed to handle all those must-do items on your list and assist in building a social media presence that exceeds expectations.
You can even increase your own portfolio of offerings by taking advantage of Vendasta’s impressive slate of best-in-class products and services that go above and beyond the basics. Access to marketing experts, easy collaboration, a central client dashboard, integrated pre-publishing approval, automated reporting, social listening, and a library of high-quality stock images — all pieces of the pie crucial to providing superior customer service and developing a loyal and engaged following.
3. Assign roles and responsibilities
Make a list of tasks vital to each social media campaign and attach a name/job position to each of those tasks. Everyone on your team should know what they’re responsible for too, so they’re empowered to take an active role in things like monitoring customer reviews or ensuring your business location, hours, and contact information are up-to-date.
View task categories as specialties and assign roles based on members’ strengths. Some people will be better at tactfully responding to negative feedback, while others might excel at curating content.
4. Create and curate location-specific content
Content should be a mix of branded information that could technically be used by any single location business — e.g., what the brand stands for and how certain products are made — and location-specific content that speaks to the people actually frequenting that outlet.
The “creation” portion of this equation focuses on content built in-house, specifically for this project.
- Give a behind-the-scenes look at store operations via Instagram Stories
- Share promotions specific to that location
- Boast about a location-specific achievement, like the store’s anniversary or winning a local industry award
- Create funny memes about life in [home city/state]
- Write business-specific how-tos, like recipes from a restaurant’s head chef or a home improvement store’s DIY specialist
As for curation, the focus shifts from local messaging to sharing locally themed content created by others, such as:
- User-generated content (UGC) like customer reviews, images, and videos
- Posts from other local businesses that talk about community events and promotions relevant to your audience
- Posts from clients’ suppliers — think restaurants highlighting their produce vendor’s post about upcoming harvest or a gym sharing a post from a popular exercise equipment company teasing a new product launch
5. Monitor and respond to reviews and feedback
A whopping 92 percent of consumers read at least one company review online before committing to a purchase. Nearly three-fourths of customers says they trust a business more if that business has positive reviews (Reputationx). Negative reviews can have the opposite effect, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.
Use positive reviews to reinforce the things that are being done right and turn to negative reviews to figure out what can be done better. All reviews should get a prompt and respectful reply.
- Thank reviewers for being a customer and taking the time to offer feedback
- Be gracious about positive feedback
- Acknowledge mistakes and sympathize with subpar experiences
- Indicate whether you’re open to further discussion and offer a phone number or email to facilitate that as needed
- When appropriate, explain why expectations were not met and/or address how you’ll fix the issue moving forward
6. Ensure compliance with local laws and regulations
Check your game plan against local regulations. There may be limits to how you can interact with customers who haven’t opted into communications. Some locales regulate which items can be discounted or offered as part of a promotion, and there are some posts — like those dealing with alcohol — that may be subject to even more stringent guidelines.
Best practices for managing multi-location social media
As you ramp up your own marketing plan and start selling social media packages, keep referring back to these best practices to keep your business and your clients on track.
Use consistent branding and messaging across all locations
While content may differ from location page to location page, the overall look and feel of each social media account should always follow the corporate style guidelines. Fonts, brand colors, logos, and voice should weave a consistent thread across accounts location pages and platforms.
Foster engagement and build community on social media
Social media should be a multi-way conversation. You post content, social users’ comment, and someone from your team responds to those comments. Combining those interactions with posts designed to encourage engagement (think: questions, polls, and requests for user-generated content) can help create conversations and increase loyalty to same brand.
Incorporate user-generated content
Speaking of user-generated content (UGC), studies find content created by consumers is 35 percent more memorable and 50 percent more trusted than other types of media (Business 2 Community). Leverage those trends by making space for consumer reviews, photos, and videos in your feed and on your site or content calendar. You can curate existing UGC or use contests and social posts to request submissions.
Track and analyze metrics to improve performance
Guessing about your social campaign’s success isn’t enough. Concrete, verifiable data is the only way to know for sure whether your digital marketing strategy is working. Track metrics like cost-per-click (for paid ads), response rate, response time, engagement rate, and audience growth rate to see what’s working and what could use a tweak or two to optimize results.
Establish at the outset of your campaign how you’ll be gathering metrics (e.g., software offered by each social media platform vs. a plug-in or other third-party option) and how often you’ll review that data. Give your strategy enough time to work, but don’t wait too long to schedule a checkup and make necessary changes.
Continuously adapt and adjust strategies based on data and feedback
Those metrics mentioned above are tools. Use the information to inform decision-making about overall strategy as well as smaller choices like whether you need to respond to comments faster or if it’s time to switch up your content types to better snag your target audience’s attention.
Look not just at one set of numbers but also how those numbers trend — one small jump in engagement is nice, but a strong and steady growth pattern that extends over several months or quarters is far more exciting.
Frequently asked questions
What are the best marketing strategies for multi-location businesses?
Consider the needs of the corporation as well as what’s best for local customers in each location. Acknowledge and adhere to the basics, like incorporating localized content and responding to customer reviews, while also leaving room for experimentation. Always build your strategy around SMART goals and track metrics to objectively gauge your strategy’s success.
What are the benefits of my client having multiple locations for their business?
Businesses could potentially increase their customer base and overall revenue with more locations. They can also customize products and services to cater to the needs of each local demographic, for example, while also reducing production and shipping costs by localizing those aspects of the business.