Founded in 2007, Buddy Media’s main focus is on helping enterprise brands develop and maintain their presence on various social platforms. That process increasingly includes developing tools and mechanisms to drive customers from a digital experience to an offline action — or sending consumers to local shops.
Co-founder and chief strategy officer Jeff Ragovin spoke with Street Fight recently about the growing opportunity that social media represents, how the company helped L’Oreal drive revenue to local salons, and the importance of language.
What kinds of things is Buddy is doing in the local space?
For us, local is really important. It’s a big part of our business. One of the things we’ve seen, especially over the last few years, is that local has become so important because of the conversations that are taking place between customers and the places they go. Even though we work with really large clients like L’Oreal or Starwood, they have local components to their products. They have to create a strategy around how they can talk to those people. We’ve created a ton of different products around it. Local has been a really interesting asset to us. While we’re really focused heavily on one brand talking to everybody, we have all these fragments that are starting to come into play where local is becoming more important than we’ve seen before.
How do you get people to move from digital to offline on a local level?
There is a really interesting program that we’re running right now with the brand side of L’Oreal. It’s very different and not the normal type of program we’re seeing out there. One of the things we started working with them on was coming up with a complete program that enabled their salons to essentially create Facebook pages utilizing the Buddy Media marketing suite. L’Oreal went out to all the salons and said, “Hey, we want to help you drive more business, so we’re going to give you a solution that will help you enhance your Facebook page, provide educational resources, and other things.” L’Oreal would also give them an advertising credit to buy media on Facebook.
We helped them onboard over 6,000 salons, who are logging into our platform and reaching two million clients. By utilizing the platform, the salons could talk to their customers in a more effective way, but they were also driving them into the businesses. Customers could see if an appointment opened up or if there was an offer or coupon. By the end of last year, their effective CPM was $3.04, which was more than any program they’ve ever done in the past. The total awareness as far as that program was around 21,000 impressions and two million engagements. Local salons were seeing gross sales from social media grow by $5,000. While that doesn’t seem like a big number, it’s pretty amazing for a small salon especially since L’Oreal is essentially paying for the social tool.
You look at L’Oreal, and you’re talking about a CPG (consumer packaged goods) company, but this program that we created for them is more of a B2B. It’s L’Oreal from a business perspective creating a local solutions for salons who run businesses. It’s interesting because what we’re seeing is this adaptation of technology and times. At the end of the day, their job is to focus on the business and drive revenue. They don’t really think about social at the end of the day, but now they are really starting to think, “Hey, this is technology that we have to use.” They are seeing an incredible amount of traffic come in through the door because of social channels, which I think is pretty awesome.
Any other examples?
We work with Starwood, which has nine brands aside from SPG. We’ve created hubs for those brands, so they essentially have pages, but what we’ve also done is build property pages and local destination sites for every single one of those brands. Today, there are north of 1,200 hotel pages, each with their own tab that we’ve launched. That tab has content that’s created by corporate, and it has content that’s created on a local level. We have one universal login within the platform. There are over 1,300 Starwood users that are using the platform, and they are connecting to people who are staying at their hotels. They are doing some really fun stuff around that as well. All the local properties get unified analytics. They get all their location data, and it’s all rolled up into global so they can see what their footprint is around the world.
Has Facebook’s newish Timeline feature changed any of that?
Not really for local. At the end of the day, all it really did was alter the look and feel a little bit. All of the geo-targeting, all of the language-based stuff, all the social applets work in the same way. You can’t default the tab anymore and you have to use a pin post if you want to bring something to the top, but I think that for local shops Timeline made Facebook even better because they get the nice, rich beautiful picture that they can change on a daily basis. It’s given brands the ability to tell a story.
Where does this go on a local level?
One thing that’s important is language. We have these massive brands that have literally 60 country managers. They need to talk to their audience in their specific region. The biggest concern we’ve seen in the past two years focused on language. We realized early on that you need to speak the right language in order to communicate with the right people. It’s great for us because we have the technology to geo-target within the wall and through tabs. When we’re working with global brands and a person is coming to the page, we will render content based on that user’s language and country. We’ll also give the country managers the ability to geo-target posts in a granular language. We’re seeing more and more brands come on to Facebook and utilizing one single page instead of utilizing 60 pages. We’re seeing amazing things in terms of communication and hitting the people that really matter, then driving them into stores or driving them to different destinations.
Noah Davis is a senior editor at Street Fight.
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