Business used to be simple: spend the money on marketing and you’ll rake in the customers. But these days people want more from business than a mere transaction. They want a relationship.
Marketing guru turned IT boss Cat Matson said small to medium enterprises were the big winners in a relationship-driven environment.
Cat is CEO of HEARIS, a social media management platform designed to help businesses – especially those with multiple online channels – stay on top of the business of relationships.
“It’s all about connecting people with their grassroots audience and making sure they are active and engaged at a local level,” she said.
“Smaller businesses are often very successful at this because they’re thinking in a really local way about their audience and they’re building loyalty and trust. Sometimes it’s the larger corporations with the mentality of ‘head office will do it’ that lose out on that personal touch and it costs them customers.”
Cat said many bigger businesses, particularly franchises, didn’t bother to localise their social media because they viewed it as unworkable.
“A lot of brands rely on that corporate identity to get by but they are really missing out,” she said.
“We can actually show that businesses get five times the reach and eight times the engagement than those working with a corporate page alone. And it’s simple because the HEARIS platform streamlines the process of posting so you can manage a large number of pages centrally and track what’s happening on them in real time with email notifications.”
Cat notes that the platform was designed and built by Australian developers in Brisbane, so it understands the local environment in a way that adapted overseas platforms can’t.
So how does it work? Cat cites Lorna Jane – a client of HEARIS – as an example of a company that is using HEARIS to nail a winning formula. With over three quarters of a million fans, they’re obviously doing something right.
“Lorna Jane has one corporate page and 151 local pages. This drives really good local search results and enables potent return on investment,” she said.
“So Lorna Jane has established a page for each of its locations so if someone is looking for Lorna Jane Southland, they won’t find the corporate page, they’ll find their own local team, which is much more personal.
“And when you think about it, having a local presence makes a lot of practical sense. For example, if you’re walking down the street and you feel like an ice-cream and you search for ‘ice-cream shops’, on your phone, the one that’s going to get your business is the one that appears in your search.”
So what happens when businesses don’t pay attention to their social media? The answer should be enough to make the blood of any CEO run cold.
“People fill the void. If you’re not there, someone will step in and hijack your space,” Cat said.
I did a quick Facebook search on a popular hardware chain whose entire marketing strategy is premised on the personal touch – its own employees star in the TV ads. I was startled by the results. Bunnings Warehouse has no official Facebook page. As a result, an army of pretenders has sprung up to appear in the top 20 searches. These include everything from the innocuous “Bunnings Sausage Sizzles” to the damaging “Bunnings Warehouse Employs F***heads” and everything in between.
Sadly for Bunnings, one of the most popular spoof pages, which also hijacks the brand’s well known tagline, has attracted a brand-sabotaging 30,149 likes with “Picking up hookers at bunnings because lowest prices are just the beginning…”
“Business is about relationships,” Cat said. “When I speak to businesses about this, it’s a constant education process but these days even big businesses are starting to understand the value of it.
“HEARIS offers a solution to businesses that want to have that strong local presence but also want to control it at a brand level. And if you get it right, the engagement and the brand advocacy that comes as a result are phenomenal.”