CEO and Founder of Expion, Peter Heffring believes that in the age of social media, brands need to not only engage their fans at a national level, but also make sure they have a local voice.

Earlier this month, Expion a provider of social media management tools, joined with Google Plus to improve how the social network functions. Heffring spoke with CMSWire about this new venture and how it will benefit Google Plus' users.

Managing Social Networks

As more and more businesses use social networks to engage with customers and promote brands and products, these networks, like Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook, need help from other companies. The businesses who use the social networks need tools that can track analytics, help them monitor posts, and find out what information and products their customers are looking for.

Google Plus management tool partners include companies such as Adobe, which helps with marketing, Dentsu Razorfish which provides social media consultations and HootSuite which uses its dashboard technology to monitor, manage and track social campaigns. 

Google Plus, although a relatively new social network, has about 400 million members. According to the Google Plus website, these third party management tools, besides improving the functionality of the social network, also provide brands and businesses with "more flexibility and power to run their Google+ page.” 

Expanding the Social Network Relationship

With this new partnership between Google and Expion and the subsequent integration with the Google Plus API, businesses that use Google Plus will not only be able to use the Expion tool to manage their pages and customer experience by posting information, responding promptly to messages and moderating page activity, but it will let businesses have more of a one-on-one relationship with its customers.

“We’re excited to apply our extensive experience in developing content management systems to help brands build their presence on Google+,” said Heffring. “We've been working with Google to bring high quality Google+ integrations into our product suite and we look forward to helping brands better connect with Google users.”

Being National, Buying Local

As a company that provides social platform tools for well-know brands such as Kraft, Old Navy and Mattel, Expion has experience in helping brands on other social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. With Google Plus they want to not only make sure that these companies can not only reach and engage with their audience across a variety of social platforms, but on a variety of different levels.

Heffring says that many brands have national or "brand" pages and do well marketing their product on this level, but they have trouble with local engagement. "That’s why Google worked with us over so many other companies," says Heffring. "A lot of the companies were at the brand level and they recognized we could help them with Google Plus local pages."

While some other networks, such as Facebook, have tried to incorporate local pages, they've run into problems when it came to promotion.

The big difference is the search and it's very difficult to search for a local Facebook page because it's not that simple to find," Heffring says. "At the local level they [Google Plus] have a huge lead. If they can implement this correctly with local search, they can go from local pages to a local Google Plus page .... then they can really excel on the local market."

He says that Google's integrated system of search tools, such as its search engine and maps, makes Google Plus pages easier to find. In using the restaurant Applebee's as an example, Heffring says that if a customer searched this restaurant through Google's search engine, they'd not only be able to find it on a map of its local location and find its national website or national Google Plus page, but also be directed to a page for the Applebee's closest to their current location.

"Every time we track and measure engagement we find that if you’re connected to a local page versus a national page, the engagement levels are much higher [at a local level]," says Heffring. He adds that local engagement tends to be 10 times higher than national engagement as customers feel more connected to something local.

Even though Expion is using their knowledge and skills to enhance local engagement for Google Plus business users, it's not trying to diminish what other social networks can do. Heffring feels that having a local Google Plus page will compliment all of a businesses social network pages. It will show customers that these companies want to not only engage and reach them across many social platforms, but on a variety of levels.