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Wish You Were Here: How To Boost Your Brand's Local Relevance On Facebook

This week, it was revealed that Facebook has partnered with Nokia’s Here division to supply more robust mapping technology to Facebook.It’s already live on Facebook’s mobile Web version, as well as Instagram and Messenger, both Facebook-owned apps. Nokia has confirmed it’s looking to sell the division, and Facebook appears to be kicking the tires.

This mapping technology looks great, but that isn’t the only reason Facebook has for potentially courting Nokia. Beneath those clean lines exists a rich layer of detailed place data, already gathered and validated by the Here product.

This points to a fast-arriving future where mobile app users are served a much more contextually aware social networking experience — one heavily influenced by where, exactly, you are when you’re interacting with people, places and things on Facebook.

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The battle to own the “location graph” is in full swing. Google’s investment in mapping every business, street and landmark on the earth has been well-documented. Location factors heavily into search results, thus the immense pressure for businesses to invest behind their physical locations and stake their claim on the search map.

Similarly, many have tried to corner the location graph on the social Web. Early contenders like Foursquare and Gowalla focused on the act of “checking in,” and Facebook followed suit launching Places and its own check-in dynamic. But the thrill of becoming “mayor” of a location waned as it became clear that location-tagging was a feature, not a product. Today, it’s natural to add a contextual location tag to content like photos, posts and reviews.

Location adds relevance to any and all social content we consume. It has the potential to do the same for every ad we serve on Facebook, and that is the enormous opportunity for brands that rely upon locations to sell their goods or services. Every business with a local presence, from major chain restaurants to multi-location retailers, is following the early lead of small, single-location businesses.

Last week, Facebook revealed that there are 40 million small business pages on the site — 10 million more than existed last June. The social network is improving its support for these current and future advertisers in reaction.
 
If you’re working to market one of the many businesses that takes a local-first approach to customer acquisition and retention, and you’re not devoting a major chunk of your digital budget to social platforms, you’d better get moving.

Here are three local advertising tactics to apply:

1) Try local awareness ads on high-foot-traffic days. Released in October, local awareness ads are different from old-fashioned location targeting. Instead of just advertising to “Boston,” for example, you input the street address of your store and designate a radius around it to target your ads. You can use this to pull in nearby shoppers surfing Facebook mobile while waiting in lines, no problem.

2) Test ads locally before broadening your reach. It is a common practice for global brands to test products, concept stores, and messaging on a local basis before considering a broader rollout. Leverage Facebook as a local and regional testing ground for messaging and ads, making your concepts earn the right to go global, and you’ll find you’re on-message more often than you ever were before.    

3) Curate your local pages on Facebook. As Facebook mobile continues to outpace the desktop version, tagging locations will only become more prevalent. Curate your local Pages as you do on Yelp, Trip Advisor, and other sites that are inherently about the local experience. Decisions are made with local context in mind and in the moment. Make sure each local Facebook Page reflects the people, products and experience unique to the location to ensure you’re speaking to your local audience.

The future of social doesn’t just include local; it is local. Invest now in your local relevance with customers. Otherwise you might just be wishing they were here, rather than across the street with your competitor.

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