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Local Relevance Is The Future Of Facebook For National Brands

New research suggests that 45% of online Americans currently keep in touch with local businesses by following them on Facebook. In line with this fact, Facebook has made multiple changes to its Business Pages this year, improving them for both local businesses and consumers and revamping its mobile app in September.

Hidden inside all this new opportunity for small businesses lies new opportunity for big brands, too.

New Opportunities for Customer Service

If you market for a national brand with a local presence, you know that your local relationships play a major role in loyalty.

If you asked your customers to tell you what comes to mind when they think of your brand, you wouldn’t be surprised that many of them told you about a local person who works at your store in their hometown. The clerk at the check-out counter. The server who works every Friday. These people are already ambassadors for your national brand. They maintain customer relationships for you every day.

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What if you put those people on Facebook Messenger and let them chat with customers live online?

Facebook is clearly committed to its Messenger service, and opened it up to app developers last spring. Business Pages can already use it to communicate with customers directly. While this kind of customer service is harder for big brands than small businesses, this is  a new opportunity to deliver national customer service through local Business Pages with Facebook Messenger at scale.

Surely, big brands will want to treat social customer service with the same kinds of escalation protocols and transfers they already have in place for phone-based customer service.

New Frontiers for Advertising Effectiveness

Your national brand is what separates you from all the other competitors in your local markets. National advertising on social channels can increase awareness and consideration. It can impact brand perception and clearly convey your corporate identity. But localized content and advertising can go a long way in driving urgency and bringing customers that final mile.

If you do a little searching on Facebook, you’ll find that many brands have applied this knowledge to their digital strategies. They maintain local Facebook pages for every store, where the same local ambassadors charged with building relationships for the brand face-to-face are taking to the “airwaves” to publish locally relevant content with regional culture and local events in mind.

In many cases, promoting the best local organic posts is a strategy that can form the core of an excellent local advertising strategy. Local social advertising is expected to grow faster than national social advertising through at least 2019, according to October 2014 BIA/Kelsey "Social Media Forecast 2015."  It’s gaining popularity because it works, and local ads created or customized by someone who understands the nuanced local context often perform best.

If you’re a big brand with a local footprint, your business already has expertise in building local relationships. It’s time to put it to work in new ways.

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