Nearly 15 million people engaged locally with retail brands on digital platforms in the last quarter alone, according to a new report by the Location-Based Marketing Association and local analytics company Venuelabs. The report looked at the amount and quality of “local” consumer interactions — at things like reviews, tips, check-ins, and comments made on social media and local review sites — with businesses in the QSR, retail, fast casual and hotel verticals.
The gist of the report is that as local actions like reviewing, checking in, or posting a photo become ubiquitous across platforms, the volume of location-specific (as opposed to brand-specific) digital engagement with brick-and-mortar businesses has exploded. Instead of saying a certain company’s food is delicious, consumers are now posting a geotagged picture of their dish with a caption reading “delicious.”
The number of “missed interactions” varies across each vertical, but Venuelabs CTO Peter Manix tells Street Fight that 80 to 90+% of in-store consumer content doesn’t include keywords that reasonable marketers would use.
Digging into the data, the key takeaway for marketers is that local consumers engage with brands differently depending on the vertical. Take the overall sentiment of local feedback as measured by Venuelabs: Forty-three percent of all local feedback about quick-serve restaurants (QSR) is negative as opposed to 37% for retail and 20% for the fast casual vertical.
The study also found that channels through which consumers engage with businesses also vary. Foursquare dominates across the board, but Facebook, CitySearch, and Google + are players to varying degrees in different verticals.
Given Facebook’s ubiquity, it’s surprising to see that only 65% of retail stores and 60% of fast-casual restaurants see any local consumer engagement through the social network. It will be interesting to see as the company looks to ramp up its ad spending, how it drives organic user interaction with venues at the local level. The launch of Graph Search and Nearby hint at a push into local discovery, but the company will need to ensure that these products mature (unlike its other attempts at local) before pushing forward.
Steven Jacobs is deputy editor at Street Fight.