Today’s consumers are more likely to interact and engage with a brand online, especially on social media. BrandMuscle’s 2018 State of Local Marketing Report found that 4% of co-op dollars were allocated to social media from 2011-2016, despite the fact that local business partners spent 25% of their marketing budgets on social tactics. Where did that 21% surplus come from? Straight out of local business partners’ pockets. That’s why you should consider implementing a social media co-op program.
While traditional marketing tactics are still popular according to the latest State of Local Marketing Report, with 70% of co-op dollars allotted to traditional tactics, an increasing amount of co-op dollars are being spent on digital marketing tactics (15%), including social media marketing (4%). Although we see a slight increase, national brands need to consider realigning their local marketing budget to include social. At BrandMuscle, we break it down into two scenarios:
The Lose-Lose Situation
Local business partners are busy and have little time to plan and execute a sound social media marketing strategy. On top of that, they are overwhelmed and often left confused as they try to navigate a complex ecosystem of social media service providers and technology platforms on their own. Therefore, they’re left to fend for themselves as they incorrectly or haphazardly share your brand on social. This is a lose-lose situation for everyone and precisely where brand marketing teams must step in, steer the strategy and lead the direction on behalf of their local business partners.
The Win-Win Situation
Correct the course of your local business partners and simplify their decision-making processes by offering a co-op-approved social media program that gives them the tools, resources and support they need to be successful. If done properly, it will be a win-win for both you as the brand and your local business partners. They can use co-op funds for their social media marketing campaigns and community engagement strategies, and you can ensure co-op funds are used and consistency is maintained throughout social channels.
4 Steps to Help Your Social Media Co-Op Program Succeed
1. Produce Locally-Relevant, Nationally-Approved Content
Start with the basics. Content. Your small business partners need it, and are asking for it. Create content for your local business partners to use on their social media pages and in their social media marketing campaigns, including properly sized creative assets and the copy to post with it. Show them where they can access the content and be sure to update and add new content regularly for different sales, offerings, holidays, etc. By providing pre-approved content, you will ensure that your brand messaging is consistent across all local business partners’ social media sites.
2. Announce Your Social Media Co-Op Program
If social media marketing is a newly approved co-op tactic, scream it from the rooftops! Announce its availability to your local business partners using a medium that they typically receive information and updates from you. Keep all communication consistent, whether you use an email blast, newsletter, intranet or other form of communication. Local business partners must know where to go for important information and announcements, especially if it’s for a new and useful tactic.
3. Host a Webinar
Now that you’ve created the content and made it known, it’s time to show your local business partners how to use it. Make it a team priority! Partner with your sales organization to get buy-in. Have your social lead from your marketing team (or a channel partner) host a webinar for your local business partners that shows them how to participate in your social media co-op program and demonstrates use of approved social media marketing tactics. Show them where to find best practice documents and corporate-approved social media content and imagery. Keep it simple for them. The easier it is, the more they’ll use it.
4. Provide Ongoing Education
Create how-to guides and best practice materials that your local business partners can easily access and refer to when using social media for their business. They need to know how to both navigate brand guidelines and understand what not to do. Here are some important topics to consider documenting:
- Reviews: how to respond to both positive and negative feedback
- Posting: when, where, how often and what to post
- Audiences: how to grow your fan base and best interact with influencers
- Branding: how to keep your branding consistent across platforms
- Strategy: create an overall social media marketing strategy and stick to it!
- Creating social media pages: how to get started and what is important to consider on each social media platform that appeals to your business goals
Today’s social landscape is ever-changing, a bit overwhelming, and at times complicated. But it’s even more important than ever to stay ahead of the game. Empower your local business partners and allow them to use co-op funds for social media marketing campaigns so they can engage with consumers online and drive revenue to their bottom line. Be a trusted partner and provide your local business partners with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful on social media and put both their business and your brand’s best foot forward online.