There isn’t a builder, contractor, dealer or retailer on earth who wouldn’t tell you their best advertising is by word-of-mouth. It’s true that your best referrals come from happy customers, but word-of-mouth has evolved over the last 10 years. There’s an advertising channel that comes with a metaphorical megaphone customers carry around, shouting a company’s name, called Facebook® and LinkedIn®. Social media is the new form of word-of-mouth advertising!
How Small Businesses can Capitalize on the New, Louder Form of Word-of-Mouth Advertising
How can a small business representing a brand’s products at the local level, capitalize on this? It’s easier than you might think! It just takes a few minutes every week. It starts with a social media presence on at least one social platform and a commitment to engage with followers at least a couple of times each week. If a local business doesn’t have a lot of followers, it can start boosting posts to attract more followers. Social advertising with “Like” and “Follow” campaigns can help too. That said, inviting friends who are connected in other ways to their business page is a best practice.
How to Get More Engagement Locally
The types of posts that get the most engagement are centered around what a small business is doing in the community, about their employees and awards they’ve won, and generally any type of human-interest information that is relatable to their followers.
Of course, it’s important to promote the brand they represent and have some posts that focus solely on brand messaging so they’re top-of-mind when one of their followers (or all the friends of their followers) are in the market for their products or services. Their followers need to know what they do. However, the most success they’ll see is going to come from posting on things people care about at the local level, so they’re missing the boat if they don’t also include some content that has local appeal in their social media strategy.
How Brands can Improve Engagement at the Local Level Through Their Dealers
“We recently had a single post for one of our Butler® Manufacturing builders that saw 228 reactions, eight comments and three shares on LinkedIn with similar results on Facebook,” said Kelly Magers, a 20+ year digital marketing veteran and Director of Digital Fusion, a digital agency within Channel Fusion.
The Digital Fusion team focuses on implementing turnkey digital marketing campaigns at the local level for brands like Butler Manufacturing® which partners with Channel Fusion to manage their channel marketing co-op programs. Butler manufactures steel building systems that are custom-designed for commercial, industrial, and community end-uses, so their builders are very dependent on referrals for new business. In addition, the sales cycle for this type of product is often 18 months or longer. Getting strong engagement for these B2B builders can sometimes be a challenge, but Digital Fusion has figured it out.
“Most brands focus on syndicated content for their dealers because it’s more affordable and it centers almost exclusively on the brand, but that’s just one piece of what dealers want or need to be successful in their local markets,” says Magers. “Who wants to have the same images and posts pushed out to their social networks as the dealer across town?
“We talk to tire dealers too who are concerned their brand-provided social presence looks like everyone else’s. They’re inspired when they see what we’re doing in terms of generating localized content that complements a brand’s social content.”
Digital Fusion’s goal this year is to improve social engagement for their clients by seven percent compared to the prior year.
“Our team is blowing that goal out of the water! We’re currently running 17.64 percent over the prior year across our book of business and we’re not stopping there. We constantly test and optimize what we’re doing every month,” says Magers.
The Digital Fusion team meets once a month and the whole team of content and advertising specialists is expected to bring one “win” and one “dog” (something that didn’t work well) to share with the team. The wins are intended to inspire and create best practices, and the dogs are invited to keep the team humble and share suggestions for what could be improved and make them better the next month.
“It’s my very favorite meeting of the whole month!” said Magers. “I love how inspired the team gets from one another. We all want to get better for our clients and the brands we represent.”
Syndicated Content – Why it’s Almost Dead
Bring up syndicated content in a room with Magers and you’ll see her get visibly uncomfortable. “It’s not that syndicated content isn’t valuable. It’s all about making sure content is pushed at the local level in a way that properly represents the brand. Syndicated content needs to make a difference for the brand and the local dealer.”
The key according to Magers, is finding a way to combine brand messaging with truly engaging posts that are unique to each dealer, making something special that benefits both the brand and the local dealer in a way that drives word-of-mouth advertising to the next level. Digital Fusion prides itself on being able to do this with unique social content for every single dealer, every single month.
Having good syndicated content is important. The key is using syndicated content in combination with locally relevant content so every dealer who represents the same brand is still able to communicate the one thing that makes them stand out from the crowd. Consumers are looking for the unique “special sauce” a local business brings to its social media presence. Without that special sauce, they’re just like everyone else.
When a consumer is investing a lot of money in a product, they care more about how the dealer is going to treat them after the sale, than during the sale. It’s that special sauce consumers and followers of the dealers want.
“They’ll listen to a reputable dealer who has good online reviews and buy any brand they tell them to,” Magers says. “The minute you make them look like everyone else is when they lose their advantage. That’s when the brand loses its advantage at the local level too.”
Takeaway for Brands
The takeaway for brands is to help your dealers, retailers and channel partners to be different from the other dealers who represent your brand. If you don’t, you’re missing out on a unique opportunity to bring lasting growth to your channel program. Consumers want to get feedback from your dealers as to what the best products are on the market. They’re going to trust your dealer, but only if they appear trustworthy and to appear trustworthy in online word-of-mouth discussions, they can’t look like everyone else. Consider reimagining your syndicated social content programs. Give your channel partners what they need – to stand out from the crowd.
Digital Fusion, powered by Channel Fusion, provides turnkey digital marketing services for the dealer networks of brands Channel Fusion represents. They pride themselves on pushing the envelope to constantly improve and prove the ROI tied to their marketing efforts for the brands they work with. For a refreshing experience with a digital partner who is relentlessly focused on running digital campaigns the right way, contact us.
About Channel Fusion
For 20 years, Channel Fusion has been delivering strategy, customer experience and return on investment outcomes for brands and their channel partners with a wide variety of solutions and industry expertise. We continue to invest in the overall ecosystem of our channel marketing offering to ensure our clients provide their partners with an optimal customer experience. Our core technologies and configurable platforms are supported by a team of customer-centric “Fusers.” Let us know if you’d like to learn more about how we deliver desired outcomes for brands and their channel partners.