#SFSNYC: Chatmeter’s CEO on Why Local Reputation Management Matters for Brands

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Well-known brands may have national, or even global platforms and campaigns for reaching out to customers—but none of that matters if the company does not know what customers think of their local stores.

Staying in touch with local sentiment and perception can be more complicated for larger enterprises that might not notice every comment or tweet about their brands.

That is where Chatmeter, a brand management platform for local, says it can help.

Collin Holmes, CEO of Chatmeter, says his company provides local SEO analytics for brands with multiple locations. Chatmeter’s clientele includes brands such as Au Bon Pan and Commerce Bank. The company leverages local search and reviews for store traffic for big brands, to get them on the first page when people search. Holmes, who will speak at this month’s Street Fight Summit, shared some insights on why local is so relevant these days for enterprise.

What does Chatmeter bring to the table for the brands you work with?
What we’re doing is powering up a platform in a service that will do a variety of things that include monitoring and generating reviews. We look at social media listening—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and pull media from those sites as well. That includes pictures and video.

We look at their individual stores; everything is tagged at the individual store level so they can see which locations they need to improve. And then we help them with things such as listing management to help them improve their local presence.

Our target is across multiple verticals. The requirement is the client has physical locations; we only work with brands that have physical stores. We don’t work with small businesses directly. Traditionally, you have to have at least 20 locations or more for us to work with. That’s our minimum requirement. It’s really midmarket and up. The majority of our brands and chains have 200 stores. It’s not just all the Kohl’s and Verizons of the world. There are a lot of midmarket chains we work with.

We do work with SMBs through resellers and agencies. For example, agencies can white label our tool, and sell that directly to their clients. Currently we’re working with monitoring more than 1.5 million locations and work with some of the biggest brands in the country.

Why focus on companies with at least 20 locations? Is it a matter of functionality for your service, and the volume of information you need to collect?
It’s mostly around the sales strategy. Acquiring and retaining SMB clients can be a challenge. When I first started the company, we were a direct-to-SMB model. We changed that after three years mostly because SMBs are knowledge-starved, time-starved, and money-starved. The platform itself, our pricing traditionally is at the lower end so it’s hard to acquire and keep those customers.

How does working with enterprise at the local level differ from Mom-and-Pop stores? A big brand already has a national identity; how does the focus come back to local?
That’s something that has transitioned over the last few years because if you take something like Facebook, for example, you really only had one corporate page [per brand]. You didn’t have to worry about individual store pages. Then about three years ago, Facebook decided they would create a page for every single location. Someone like Kohl’s has 1,200 store pages they have to manage.

If you don’t manage them, someone will find the page locally and could post reviews on it. There could be negative reviews you don’t even know about. It becomes required to manage your presence across all these local places because you never know when someone is going to discover your local store. It could be across a number of local search entities, so it is important to make sure that your brand is consistent, the message is consistent, and you’re interacting with customers across these different places. Kohl’s, for example, has 1,200 stores—that means they have essentially more than 10,000 business listings they have to manage. We pulled in over 40,000 reviews for them, and about 20,000 pictures that people have posted. It becomes physically impossible to interact with these clients unless you utilize a tool like Chatmeter.

Not only are we aggregating, but we look at the information using algorithms that decide what are the most important things to look at for each store. Is it images, reviews, or business listings? What do you need to focus on first, so you can prioritize the big data that is coming at you?

How are local reviews relevant to a national brand? How does information from the ground level make its way up the ladder for an enterprise to form a strategy?
Bigger brands will often have a customer care team in place. They’re getting complaints whether it’s phone, e-mail, and social sites. We came in and added layer on top of that with the reviews or local sites, and feed into that same engine. Most of them have teams who will decide which comments they want to respond to, how they’re going to respond, policy and procedures to interact with the store manager if they have to research the situation, if there any legal issues they must address. Usually those pieces are in place and we add on to that layer.

In many cases, regional managers will have access to our dashboard, and can respond to those reviews. You don’t see a lot of times where the individual store managers respond. You can imagine they often get defensive. We make it easy for them to respond and manage this. We have daily e-mail alerts, so you don’t even have to log in to the dashboard.

What are the collective sources for the information and data you gather? How is all this captured and processed?
We have relationships, from almost 100 different sources. Sometimes they are directly from APIs, from Google and Yelp. We pull data from Apple, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s aggregating all of that information, photos and posting, all of that content plays into their rankings. If you look at Google Maps or Yelp, they look at those components to understand and prioritize where you are going to show up in the rankings. That’s how we have organized our information and our algorithm. It’s designed around what you need to do to improve your presence and reputation to get that store higher up on the rankings.

Joao-Pierre Ruth is a Street Fight contributor.

Join Chatmeter’s Collin Holmes and hundreds of other top local companies and brands at The Best Street Fight Summit Ever — a three-day extravaganza in Brooklyn on June 12-14. Click here to register now!