Thursday, March 31, 2011

Social Media Savvy? maybe not...7 steps to getting started

I read an article yesterday equating social media savvy franchise systems with facebook fans, friends or likers (for the purpose of this post I am using the terms ‘fans’). They were trying to draw a correlation between them and the ranking of the system in the Entrepreneur Magazine top 500 franchises. The idea was interesting, and the fact that I don’t think the idea holds much water is not sour grapes. I don’t believe that the number of fans equates to social media savvy.

There are some franchise brands that are so well known , and so large that they will garner a facebook following without even trying. McDonalds, Subway and the like have huge advertising budget s, they are everywhere and everyone knows them. More power to them, they use their facebook pages to offer specials and coupons. AWESOME! I love a deal on a Big Mac as much as the next girl. But the question still remains “Does a well fanned facebook page equal a social media savvy franchise system?” No.

• If you go to a local branch with your Foursquare check-in and the staff has no idea they are suppose to honor a special, that is not a savvy system.

• If the social media strategy consists of one person posting updates on a facebook page that is not a savvy system.

• If a customer looks for a Facebook page of their local store only to find there is no activity, or only a corporate page, that is not a savvy system.

So how do you build one?

1. GIVE UP CONTROL! When it comes to social media, the corporate office has never had control, the customer has, and all you can do is monitor and interact.

2. Webpages: Does the franchisee or someone on their team know how to update and keep their site current? Is there a facebook Like button? Newsletter sign up? If not question how much your web designer knows about the current marketplace.

3. Google Places & Merchant Circle: As long a s Google is returning business locations front and center of searches, these sites need to be claimed, updated and tagged. If you don’t know how to do it, ask a reliable service like AK Stout at Saying It Social or Thomas Scott at Brand Journalists.

During the next steps your job as a leader is to guide, monitor and support.

4. Email Signatures: If a franchisee doesn’t get social media, yet maintains email contact with their customers, they will need links in their signature to corporate maintained sites.

5. Blogs: IF and only IF a franchisee is a fairy good writer and understands the corporate mission, blogs are a wonderful way to build brand understanding.

6. Facebook: Building & maintaining a local or regional page with other franchisees. If they are unsure of what sort of things to post, encourage repurposing corporate postings or those of other franchisees

7. Twitter: If a franchisee is too verbose, I wouldn’t encourage it. However, if they are very social and understand the tools available to use it with ease then tweet on! I believe that twitter is a great tool for potential new franchisee to see the personality of the system and the interaction between team members.

Once these things are in place and you can see the entire thing working as a whole, then you see a social media savvy franchise system.

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