Marketers see local social media hurdles: study

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Marketers see great potential in social media, but have trouble making it work on a local level, new research finds.

Seventy-two percent of brand managers believe social media can be powerful in connecting with customers across the globe, but 57% do not use Facebook to reach customers in local markets due to a number of obstacles, according to research from Harris Interactive.

Almost half of respondents (48%) find measuring ROI a challenge to connecting with local geographic markets, while 45% cited managing and maintaining information as an obstacle, according to the report which drew on the online responses of 105 brand managers. Additionally, 42% pointed to engaging audiences as a challenge for localized social media marketing.

“For the first time ever, you can reach people globally through one distribution network: Facebook,” said Mike Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media, the digital media company that commissioned the study. “But the problem is people say, ‘We'd like to do it, but how do we publish content? How do we track everything that's going on? We know the potential is there but we need the tools.'”

He gave the example of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, a client of Buddy Media's that has used the company's Facebook platform to run a global social media page. The company differentiates its brand message for regional markets, posting relevant news in the language of the local users. Lazerow described this combination of global branding, combined with local relevance as the foundation for an effective social media marketing strategy that will also be able to measure ROI and address other obstacles cited by respondents.

Evan Bailyn, founder of FirstPageSage, a consultancy that advises companies on their digital marketing, agreed.

“You can have an overall brand message, but it has to relate to people,” he said. “If you're just offering a commercial, it can just feel like spam and people will hide you from their status feed.”

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