Facebook recently announced a new Global Pages structure, enabling brands who are present in multiple markets to adapt their branding and messaging to the needs of local markets.
Depending on the country they’re logging in from, a Facebook user who connects to facebook.com/MyGlobalBrand (for example) will see a localized version of the page with different cover photos, profile photos, apps, milestones, “About” information, and News Feed stories shown in the local language.
This is of interest because it allows the creation of content and messaging better aligned to the local market conditions, eliminating the need for corporate marketing departments to maintain multiple and disconnected Facebook Pages. Furthermore, it takes away some of the pains of having to manage and coordinate local pages by centralizing these in a hub and spoke model, with the added benefit of being able to track overall performance in a Global Insights dashboard. This new structure is currently only available to companies who have a direct relationship with Facebook such as Unilever, Holiday Inn, and Nestlé.
Moreover, today’s news validates the approach Hearsay Social has long advocated: there is a tremendous opportunity to establish trust and generate loyalty by facilitating proximity between a brand and its customers. We do, however, take it one giant leap further by enabling field agents and those that are in direct contact with their customers to strengthen their role of trusted adviser. Contact through social media interaction serves to strengthen this relationship even more because these trusted advisers can pick up on signals that someone at the country or corporate level would find difficult to manage.
Overall, this is a positive move for international companies as it reinforces corporate branding in the local market whilst reducing the risk of dispersing marketing efforts. Hearsay Social complements this approach with its “corporate-to-local model” and further activates the person-to-person relationships that are the ultimate proximity lever for establishing brand equity with your customers.
Ed. note: Register now for our 11/13 webinar to learn even more about the power of going local from Hearsay Social’s Head of Data & Analytics, Greg Kroleski: http://bitly.com/Ql4qjc
Facebook is constantly tweaking EdgeRank, the behind-the-scenes algorithm that automatically chooses which stories appear in each user’s news feed. As the biggest social network in the world—it recently surpassed the one billion member milestone—Facebook aims to only share the most pertinent and engaging content with its users.
The latest major change to EdgeRank specifically affects corporate brand pages. Facebook has opted to reduce the frequency at which corporate page posts appear on fans’ news feeds in an effort to declutter the amount of brand-sponsored posts served up on mobile and tablet devices. This change requires companies to rethink their Facebook Page strategy in order to maximize the amount of visibility, reach, and engagement of their pages.
Increase Your Facebook EdgeRank by Going Local
In a way, this news shouldn’t be too surprising for savvy social marketers. Earlier this year, independent researcher Mainstay Salire released a report analyzing social media posts from corporate pages versus local brand pages. The researcher found that a typical local Facebook Page fan (someone who has liked the page) is worth 40 times a typical corporate Page fan.
Having tracked 14 million consumer interactions across Facebook, the report revealed that local fans pack a much bigger punch than corporate Fans from a sales and marketing perspective. While, at first glance, corporate Facebook Pages have the clear advantage in their massive fan bases and engagement, Mainstay discovered that local Facebook Pages actually generate 5x greater reach per fan and 8x more engagement per fan reached. Ultimately, one local fan is equal to 40 corporate fans.
With Facebook tweaking its EdgeRank algorithm to even further limit the reach of corporate page posts, it is clearer than ever that major businesses must go local with their social media efforts.
If you want to maximize reach and engagement with your customers on a national or even global scale, doing so from one corporate page is not the best way to do it. Instead, you need to equip your local salespeople and stores with the knowledge and software (like Hearsay Social) to help them best represent your brand on social media.
To learn more about how local pages outperform corporate pages on social media, download Mainstay Salire’s report, The Power of Going Local: Comparing the Impact of Corporate vs. Local Facebook Pages.
Ed. note: The following post, penned by Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih, originally appeared in Advertising Age.
Long before the digital age, all business was local and social. Customer engagement was paramount. Shopkeepers, barbers, and Avon ladies alike intuitively knew that their ability to connect with customers would often determine whether or not a purchase would be made. They also understood that investing in building long-standing relationships with customers would result in repeat visits and loyalty.
For many successful proprietors, this meant knowing customers by name, remembering their likes and dislikes, and being on hand to answer product questions. Years before founding Walmart, at the age of 26, Sam Walton put these principles to work as a variety store manager in Newport, Arkansas.
On stage at fMC (Facebook’s marketing conference) earlier this year, Walmart CMO Stephen Quinn hearkened back to this bygone era:
“If you went back 120 years ago, a retailer would be a pillar in the community. [Retailers] would know not only everybody, but their likes, what they thought was interesting, what new products they might be interested in.”
So, what happened to the shopkeeper who cared about customers? The answer is very simple: technology.
Technology has enabled two of the biggest changes to sweep across retail: national mega-chains and more recently, e-commerce. Both have played key roles in driving down prices by introducing greater transparency, efficiency, and economies of scale. But this has come at a cost: the customer experience now feels “mass produced.”
In his eloquent foreword to my book, The Facebook Era, 1-800-FLOWERS founder and CEO Jim McCann captures it perfectly:
“Past technologies helped drive down costs, improve reach, and grow the business, but in the process we lost something very important: customer connection. I have missed the direct customer dialogue I had in our retail flower shops. The digital age has felt largely transactional in comparison.”
A central theme of fMC last month was how social media provides a way to put a human touch back into business. Several Facebook executives, including David Fischer, Mike Hoefflinger, and Chris Cox, took the stage at various moments to explain how Facebook’s new Timeline redesign provides businesses with an opportunity to “reintermediate” a human touch in their online interactions with customers. Less advertising, more engagement. Less cookie-cutter, more authentic. Less corporate, more local.
Slowly but surely, even the biggest retail organizations around the world are awakening to this sea change. Quinn and his team at Walmart have recommitted to a “social-local strategy” that I think would have made Sam Walton proud.
Walmart has launched thousands of Facebook Pages, one for each of its brick-and-mortar stores. Designated store employees who have received special training on social media are responsible for maintaining the pages, such as by responding to customer questions and issues, sharing targeted local promotions, and discussing town news or events, such as the local football game. Quinn says social media is enabling Walmart to “go back to the future” by providing an authentic local customer experience, but at scale.
Walmart is not alone. A growing number of brick-and-mortar retailers from Lululemon and Home Depot to 24 Hour Fitness and Quiznos are embracing social-local. According to a report published last month from Mainstay Salire, local Facebook pages already outperform corporate pages by a factor of 40 (Download the report here.)
Disintermediation is fine for highly commoditized brands and products, but if you want to build brand differentiation and customer loyalty, there are no shortcuts to authentic engagement. Certainly, social-local requires greater coordination than having brand pages alone, but like anything, what you get out of social media is proportional to what you put in.
Retail e-commerce sales topped $61.8B in Q4 of 2011, but this still amounts to less than six percent of total retail sales. Embracing a social-local strategy allows retailers to capitalize on the shift in consumer behavior toward digital, social, and mobile technologies at the store level where most of the transactions are still taking place, even while investing in growing e-commerce channels over time.
It turns out shopkeepers, barbers, and Sam Walton had it right all along. Customers want to be treated like real people, not an audience segment. Having 20 million fans secures bragging rights for any brand, but from the perspective of the fan, it’s generally far more engaging and rewarding to be part of a smaller, more intimate community.
Today, social-local is a really good idea. As more of your customers get smartphones, check in to your store locations, and begin demanding authenticity with a human touch, it will soon become mandatory. In my next article, I will discuss how retailers should go about establishing and operationalizing a social-local strategy, as well as why I believe brands have no choice but to do this. Please stay tuned.
Watch Walmart CMO Stephen Quinn talk about his social-local marketing strategy below:
The Financial Times recently posted a story with the headline Retailers wait for Facebook to deliver. In the article, the authors (Barney Jopson, David Gelles, and April Dembosky) discuss the discouraging results seen by retail efforts on Facebook:
Even as US Christmas shoppers have spent record sums online this year, one of the biggest disappointments for some internet entrepreneurs has been a company that is otherwise hot property: Facebook. Retail executives and consultants say Facebook has yet to take off as a retail platform, defying excited predictions that “social commerce” – jargon for shopping via social media sites – would be the next big thing.
While the article makes many good points about how social commerce, or “F-commerce” (“F” for “Facebook”), hasn’t yet lived up to the hype, there’s a concept missing: the value of social-local retailers.
Co-founders Clara Shih and Steve Garrity created Hearsay Social two years ago on the foundation that social media will best work for businesses at the local level. Retail marketers should use their global Facebook or Twitter page to build brand awareness and make themselves more personable to fans, but they won’t have a truly social business until their businesses engage social at the local store level.
It was Clara and Steve’s original vision when Hearsay Social launched and, today, more and more marketers are opening their eyes to the possibility of local. Just look at this selection from marketing experts ClickZ’s six predictions for social marketing in 2012:
4. There will be less content with a national focus and more localization. Studying data from clients that are corporate franchises with hundreds or thousands of local stores, we found that their social media efforts gained the most user interaction when they had a local focus. Localized content – be it a geo-targeted Facebook ad, a region-specific contest, or even just a tweet highlighting a local news story – creates seven to 10 times higher levels of engagement than non-locally relevant content. We expect to see more brands target and personalize their social marketing content at the country, region, city, and designated market area (DMA) level to optimize user participation.
Many large companies have already realized the importance of maintaining a global corporate page on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular networks.
Once those companies start going local on social media, however, it will be like shaking hands with actual customers, not just splashing catchy billboards along the freeway. From a retailer’s perspective, going local means creating individual social profiles and pages on all the most prominent networks (from Facebook to Google+) for individual franchises in small towns and cities across the nation.
As corporate pages focus on bolstering brand, these local franchise pages can work toward doing real business, like driving in-store traffic with coupons and other rewards programs. The local pages will see higher engagement, as they can provide content hyper-targeted to customers in their region. And, as this is the basis of all good business, local page owners can actually foster real relationships with real people.
Real people spend real money, and that’s where you’ll see the biggest impact of ROI on social business.
This morning we are delighted to announce that Hearsay Social now supports Google+ Pages, allowing Hearsay Social customers to effectively manage multiple local business profiles on Google’s social network for the first time.
Since the launch of Google+ Pages last week, our customers have expressed interest in using Google+ and its Circles feature to grow their brands and books, and deepen customer relationships. Customer feedback is critical to driving our platform roadmap, so we jumped on the opportunity to partner with Google+ to fulfill those requests. This morning Google+ announced that Hearsay Social was selected as one of just a handful of industry leaders for the trial API release and partnership.
Our brilliant engineering team has worked diligently to ensure that Hearsay Social’s core product modules are supported in Google+ from day one:
Hearsay Social Content Publisher for scheduling posts and campaigns across brand and local pages
Hearsay Social CRM for deepening local customer relationships
Hearsay Social Compliance Module for FINRA and SEC compliance and infraction monitoring (used by financial services customers)
Hearsay Social Analytics to roll-up metrics across every brand or local page
When Google+ first rolled out a public beta over the summer, several forward-thinking organizations built company profiles–but these were soon shut down by Google+ because it was not yet ready for non-individual users on its network. Last week the social media-savvy companies returned, but this time their profiles were allowed and encouraged.
Here’s our Hearsay Social Google+ Page:
Today, over 800 million people actively log into Facebook to connect with their family, friends, and favorite brands. The statistics are similarly mind-blowing on the other big networks: there are over 200 million users on Twitter, 130 million on LinkedIn, 40 million on Google+, and 10 million on foursquare.
Quite simply, businesses can no longer ignore the social media explosion. And they know it: 73.5% of U.S. companies consider social media a top priority, according to Forrester Research. Companies are no longer simply theorizing about social media potential, however, as evidenced by Burston-Marsteller data that shows 65% and 54% of Fortune Global 100 companies to already have a presence on Twitter and Facebook, respectively.
For today’s Chief Marketing Officer, getting a grasp on social media can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. For my keynote today at ad:tech New York, I’m presenting on the “7 Habits of Highly Successful Social Marketers.” Because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get through all seven, I’ve published them here in full, complete with tips, tricks, and the Hearsay Social superhero:
Establish home base
Your job as CMO is to build your brand and engage your audience. Well, when Internet users spend over 22 billion minutes each day on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, it’s hard to engage anyone unless you’re actively participating in the social media space. You may not necessarily have to dedicate full-time resources to every single social networking site, but you do need to have branded corporate pages on the ones that matter most. A national coffee brand like Starbucks, for example, benefits immensely from having a place where customers can come find them and give feedback on their experiences. Not only that, but Facebook pages, Twitter pages, and the like are excellent places to link to and send ad traffic to. Establish your home base and users will find you on social.
Claim your pages
You’ve created your corporate brand page and you’re sending out messages, so you’re work is done, right? Wrong! Many brands will quickly discover that there already exist hundreds, sometimes thousands of rogue pages on social sites created long ago by either customers or employees. On Twitter, for example, an insurance company might find that their agents are already actively engaging with clients, with or without approval from management. On Facebook, a retail company has to deal with positive pages (“I love Coca-Cola!”) and negative pages (“Coca-Cola sucks!”) alike. Taking control of your brand on social media means claiming your name wherever it already exists.
Get local to drive sales
Once you’ve established your corporate presence on social media, it’s time to get local. Customer loyalty and acquisition is best accomplished at the local level, because that’s where the strongest relationships are built. And social networking is all about relationship building. For retail stores, this might mean exploring the power of check-ins by offering deals and promotions. For gyms and health clubs like 24 Hour Fitness, one of our key customers, generating leads and fueling traffic to local centers is essential to driving conversions.
Integrate social media across marketing mix
“Social by design.” That’s the latest mantra we’ve been hearing from COO Sheryl Sandberg and other Facebook executives on how CMOs should approach the new world of marketing. Sandberg described a perfect example of “social by design” at the Association of National Advertisers convention last month: Huggies ran a campaign in Hong Kong where people could upload their baby photos to the brand’s Facebook page, and then the brand used the photos in ads on buses and subways. The campaign led to a 4.2% increase in market share and “by far the best quarter in Huggies’ Hong Kong history,” according to Sandberg.
Personally, I like to think of social media as a spice. Like salt and pepper, social media must play an integral part in every dish you cook up, be it an email or print campaign or something else entirely. It’s not just another layer, it’s not a separate division, it is a pervasive spice that should flavor everything you do.
Learn and live by the new metrics
Just like we had to “invent” clickthrough rate and CPC a decade ago in the Google era, we have to come up with new metrics for the Facebook era. It’s meaningless to just measure engagement—number of likes, comments, posts, tweets—unless you can tie it all to the bottom line. We’re not just stumbling in the dark, though. Avinash Kaushik, the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, recently outlined four distinct, measurable social media metrics for CMOs to use:
Conversion Rate = # of Audience Comments (or Replies) Per Post
Amplification = # of Shares Per Post
Applause Rate = # of Likes Per Post
Economic Value = Sum of Short and Long Term Revenue and Cost Savings
Corral the chaos
With all of the moving parts, people, and regulations, it’s critical that your organization can scale automation and do a lot with a little. Farmers Insurance, one of our most successful clients, managed accomplishments as outstanding as breaking the Guinness record for Most Likes on a Facebook Page in 24 Hours, and all with a social media team of one.
Instead of assuming that you need a massive social media team, partner cross-functionally and engage multiple departments at your organization, from IT to legal to compliance to customer support and beyond.
Prepare for the future
The last (but certainly not least) important part of marketing in the Facebook era is realizing that the space is in a constant state of flux.
For example, at Facebook’s f8 developer conference in September, the company announced Timeline, a major revamp to the look and feel of user profiles, and Open Graph actions, which gives users the ability to “read” books and “climb” mountains in addition to just “liking” pages. Then there’s the question of rising social networks like Google+, which just this week launched brand pages.
CMOs must reserve some time to stay abreast of industry changes like the ones outlined above, and their campaigns and systems need to be fluid enough to adapt in real-time.
Marketing is changing, but that’s not a bad thing. It just means that you can no longer simply read a “how-to-market” manual and call it a day. Social media has shaken up the way things work, and the aftershocks are still rippling out. It’s an exciting time to be a CMO.
The news has leaked out – Facebook is getting ready to launch another significant change to Facebook Pages and Places. As you may remember, they’re merging Places with Pages so users will now be able to check in to Pages with physical locations. Now there’s more: in a week or so, Facebook will launch a beta “parent-child” system that allows organizations to manage all of the Facebook Pages created by their local agents, owners, and retailers. We can’t wait!
For a while now, corporate/local brands have been creating and maintaining not only a corporate brand Page but individual local brand Pages for each location. You can imagine things get pretty hairy when you’re talking about hundreds or thousands of Pages, and that’s why companies turn to Hearsay Social–to help set brand guidelines and compliance rules across the enterprise, to marshal the marketing resources of the brand effectively, and to understand the dynamics of how their social strategy works across the organization.
But up until now, we could only take it so far. A truly “rogue” location or representative could refuse to adopt corporate standards, or leave the company and keep control of their branded Page, leaving the brand no recourse but legal action.
With this new announcement, Facebook is taking a major step to help corporate/local brands (our favorite!) with baked-in API support for claiming and retaining control of their brand. By rolling in these new APIs to our existing corporate/local social management suite, brands will have more control and flexibility than ever, while still maintaining authenticity at the local level.
We’re excited that Facebook is beefing up their platform so we at Hearsay Social can deliver richer functionality for large companies. For example:
enterprise systems integration
enterprise-grade compliance tools
centralized content library with hierarchical control
distributed campaign management tools
and lots more exciting stuff to come
P.S. Facebook, while we know you’re listening, can we have that API to edit Pages and profiles next? 😉
Have you ever bought a new pair of headphones and spent the next week trying to get into the packaging? Scissors couldn’t cut the plastic, you hurt your teeth trying to gnaw through it, and when you finally resorted to the chainsaw, you cut right through the cord. But boy did those headphones look good on the shelf!
Deploying software can be even worse. The story might sound good, but what’s it going to take to provide the platform to thousands of users across your distributed organization? What if your company doesn’t know anything about social media? What if Facebook is blocked at your organization? The good news is that it’s not going to take scissors or a chainsaw, but you’ll need a little help. At Hearsay Social we have experience empowering some of the largest distributed organizations in the world with a focus on speed and accuracy.
Whether it’s going from 20 pilot users to 2,000 active users in five days for one organization or onboarding 6,000 users in two months, 2,000 of which are new to social media, we have a plan. We know enterprise deployments can be tricky, and every organization is unique. That’s why we’ve put together a Customer Success Team entirely dedicated to ensuring just that – customer success. Our team has had astounding success leading the largest global/local deployments for social media management software, and we keep it simple by focusing on three things – scalable software, communication, and training. Scalable software – Maybe you’re testing a social media platform with 100 users at your organization but you’re concerned about what happens when you open the floodgates. Will the system scale? Hearsay Social has been built from the ground up for large distributed organizations; we’re thrilled to have well over 10,000 users pounding on our system every day. We’ve analyzed every step in our sign-up process to eliminate friction, and today it takes users an average of one minute to be fully signed up, compliant, and engaged with your organization’s social strategy. Our API-based approach means your users are free to get social on any web-enabled device while staying compliant. Communication – In the weeks leading up to a Hearsay Social launch, your Customer Success Manager (CSM) will walk you through two important documents – our Social Media Policy & Plan Mobilizer as well as Steps to a Successful Hearsay Social Deployment. Key to a successful deployment is a thorough communication strategy and your CSM will work closely with you to ensure that all key stakeholders are properly educated and aware of what’s coming. Some organizations choose to do a staggered rollout while others like to make the platform available to all users at once. That’s why each account has a CSM – to establish the proper strategy for each specific organization. Training – We’ve built our solution to be drop-dead simple, but we know training is still a huge part of the equation. Each organization we work with receives customized training specific to the needs and ability levels of their users. Training always begins by educating the corporate administrators so your team is knowledgeable about the user experience for both administrators and local users. From there, custom on-demand videos and training materials are made available 24/7 and live webinars are planned for your organization. Webinars are customized based on the skill level of your users and always recorded for use after the live session. In addition to a CSM, your organization has full access to our Customer Care Representatives prepared to field your questions. At Hearsay Social, strategy, training, and support come standard with your software purchase and we’re with you every step of the way. Our success depends on your success and we know we’ll get there through a close partnership.
Social media is changing the way individuals communicate, purchase goods, and live their lives. At Hearsay Social, we’ve built our social media management platform to empower and educate your organization quickly so you can get into the game. Our case studies speak for themselves – choosing your social media management platform is the first step – but what’s it going to take to get from 100 to 1,000 to 10,000 users?
After many sleepless nights and cases upon cases of Diet Coke, we launched Hearsay Social last Thursday. I’m really proud of our Hearsay Social product, and I thought it made sense to take a few minutes to explain why it’s unique.
Back when Clara and I started the company almost two years ago, we sat down to think about our customers and what they needed. We realized that while we sell to unified organizations, we actually have two distinct types of customers: corporations (the ones who have to watch for branding and compliance issues), and local representatives (the ones who use it to communicate with their customers). In order to make our customers successful (and honestly, in order to make Hearsay successful), we need to make sure Hearsay Social works well for both audiences.
We know the local reps are busy people. They don’t have time to learn a whole new product with a lot of fancy features or obscure configuration switches. So we created an interface that was simple, elegant, and similar to the interfaces they already knew; we didn’t go for reinventing the wheel here. We don’t aim to look exactly like any other consumer website, but where a concept is useful, we aim to reuse it as much as possible. The result is an interface we hope is intuitive and easily maneuvered, and feels more like a polished consumer product than your typical confusing enterprise software.
At the same time, we realize that corporations need a highly scalable, configurable product that fits into their existing investments in enterprise IT systems. Running in the background is a solid infrastructure that takes into account how businesses actually work. We invested heavily in a flexible data architecture because we know our clients have complex organizations in place, and it’s not their job to fit into our model—it’s our job to fit into theirs. Likewise, we’re investing across the board in enterprise tools integration to make sure we work with—not against—technologies that are already in place.
Another thing that makes Hearsay Social different is our approach to compliance. I’ll get into the details in a separate blog post, but basically, rather than trying to intercept traffic as it travels across “the wire,” we talk directly to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to access and archive data. This means it works at home, at the office, or on mobile devices, instead of just your corporate network. And because these APIs are officially supported by the social networks, they always work—as opposed to “on the wire” traffic that can change formats on a daily basis. And when it changes, it breaks. Not cool if you’re relying on this to keep you safe!
Don’t think that just because we’ve launched our engineers are resting, or even sleeping! We’re continuously working on the product to make it more capable, while striving to keep it simple. Check us out on Facebook and let us know what you think of Hearsay Social, and how we can improve it. We’ll be here guzzling our Diet Cokes.
And if you’re reading this and can’t wait to get your hands on the code, email me–we’re hiring!
There is no doubt: 2011 is the year of social media for business. Today we’re excited to unveil Hearsay Social to help companies operate securely, effectively, and intelligently on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Hearsay Social was built from the ground up for businesses with local branches or reps – what we are calling “corporate/local.” Just think about your insurance agent or financial advisor. Or your local coffee shop or fast food spot. Many are part of a corporate brand like State Farm or Starbucks, but what make them thrive are local customer relationships and experiences.
During the process of writing The Facebook Era (first published in March 2009) and subsequently after it became a bestseller and I began keynoting major conferences, we interviewed hundreds of brands and kept hearing the same concerns:
How do we get a handle on the large numbers of social network profiles and pages being created by our local branches and reps?
How do we encourage a unique and authentic voice on local pages, while also ensuring they adhere to brand guidelines
How do we bring local reps and agents into compliance with federal regulations and protect them from legal liability? For example, financial institutions are required to archive conversations, or risk heavy fines. Yet social media conversations go un-archived.
The vast numbers of corporate/local companies share a unique set of challenges when it comes to social media. How do you balance the need for brand alignment and compliance with the tremendous opportunity for local customer engagement? We designed Hearsay Social specifically to help corporate/local companies create, manage, and measure social media efforts down to the zip code. Corporate management can, for example, distribute marketing campaigns and compelling content to the field, which local reps can then select, customize and one-click post to local audiences on Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or Twitter.
We live in an exciting time. Social media is on fire, with four out of five businesses saying it is a top priority in 2011. Marquee brands including State Farm, Farmers Insurance Group, and 24 Hour Fitness have already been using Hearsay Social with tremendous early success (check out our case studies). Like the Internet 15 years ago, social media is disrupting how companies interact with and relate to their customers. We all know new customer paradigms require new solutions. This is why we started Hearsay.
I’m looking forward to seeing how far your business can go with social media in 2011!