Lon Scafko, author of The Social Media Bible, and keynote speaker for the upcoming Franchise Social Media Summit, wrote an article some time back for Fast Company magazine where he discussed the Ten Commandments of Social Media. These commandments are an excellent guideline to developing a social media marketing strategy, and for future reference.
Commandment 1. Thou Shalt Blog (like crazy)
Blog. Please. That’s the first priority. Set up a blog, a personal blog, a business blog. It’s easier than you think. Use an existing blogging site such as Blogger.com or GoingOn.com or install your own branded blogging site right on your own server by using WordPress. And, WordPress is free.
Commandment 2. Thou Shalt Create Profiles (everywhere)
Create your profiles; do it now before someone else takes them. Once they are gone, they are gone forever. That’s called cyber squatting. So get out there. Use Open Social to make filling in your profiles as easy as a click of a button.
Commandment 3. Thou Shalt Upload Photos (lots of them)
Upload photographs. You’ve got them. Don’t upload the one with you with a lampshade on your head…counterproductive; but other photographs? Absolutely. Customers want to see and participate. You want to give people a face to go with your company.
Commandment 4. Thou Shalt Upload Videos (all you can find)
Videos. You all have got videos. I don’t care whether it’s training videos or customer videos, grab your video camera and go interview some of your customers. What’s better than seeing your customer’s smiley face on your Web site? And it doesn’t cost anything.
Commandment 5. Thou Shalt Podcast (often)
Podcast. If you’re too cheap to get a camera, use the free audio software that’s in your computer. That’s what I did. I created 48 audio podcasts. If you take the podcasts I did for my book and played them back-to-back, they run 24 continuous hours of interviews. You can do that. It’s free. It just takes time.
Commandment 6. Thou Shalt Set Alerts (immediately)
Set alerts. People are talking about you. You probably need to know what they are saying and you want to participate.
Commandment 7. Thou Shalt Comment (on a multitude of blogs)
Comment. Commenting is like going to a cocktail party. You wouldn’t walk into a networking event, walk up to a group of people talking, and tell them your name and what you do in your business. That would be rude and unacceptable. Listen first. Read the blogs and add comments. You can be controversial, that’s okay. But participate. Get involved.
Commandment 8. Thou Shalt Get Connected (with everyone)
Get LinkedIn. Put it in your email that you have a LinkedIn account, you have a Facebook account, and that you have a Twitter account. Make it a part of your heading on your letterhead, because that’s how you propagate. That’s how you sell it.
Commandment 9. Thou Shalt Explore Social Media (30 minutes per week)
Explore social media. Give me thirty minutes a week, that’s all I’m asking. Friday morning grab your coffee, lock yourself in your office, and give me thirty minutes. Just Google something. I promise you within the first 30 days you will be excited. You’ll be as excited as I am. You will get excited because of the ROI.
Commandment 10. Thou Shalt Be Creative (go forth and create creatively)
And the most important commandment is creativity. That’s all. It’s just creativity and having fun. But you know what, that’s what your customers want. They want to see transparency. They want to see authenticity. They want to see you having fun. They want to be able to relate and communicate.
* Previously posted on franchisEssentials June 2010 and June 2011
It’s been two years since we first published the comprehensive four-part series that addressed utilizing social networking to improve franchise development efforts. The series was well-received by the franchise community and became the basis for the report we published approximately six months later, Franchise Development via Social Media.
As we were recently working on integrated franchise marketing strategies for our franchise clients, we looked in our own rear view mirror to determine how we’ve progressed in utilizing social media and how essential it was to integrated franchise marketing. We found we still follow the lion’s share of the strategy we originally outlined but also found that we’ve revised certain parts. As we continue to perfect the integration of social media, with traditional strategies, and incorporate new social technology to the mix, we’re confident our strategies will continue to evolve. Below is an excerpt from part three of the original series, and of the Whitepaper itself, with slight revisions to reflect our evolving strategy.
Integrating Social Media with Traditional Franchise Marketing
Not convinced that a social media strategy will help you achieve your franchise development objectives? That’s understandable as social technology continues to evolve, and as such, is difficult to measure for complete efficiency and effectiveness. Basically, there is still little to measure it against. So, if it doesn’t work, for whatever reason, you need to be prepared and have a back up plan. Is that your thinking? If it is, you’re partially correct in thinking this way. I say, partially, because you should transition into any new marketing approach, and the best way to do so, is to integrate the old with new, the traditional with the innovative.
I also say, partially, because a back up plan, running simultaneously, is a double expenditure and as such may cause you to shortcut the new strategy, justifying your decision as you being more comfortable with the old strategy anyway. But keep in mind, the old has been losing its effectiveness over the past few years and today’s franchise candidates continue to trend away from old, tired methods of exploring franchise opportunities, so change is necessary. Fortunately, you can still move into social media at your own pace and slowly transition away from traditional strategies while maintaining the total marketing efforts necessary to achieve your objectives.
Now, let’s look at some of the traditional marketing you might have used in past franchise development efforts and see how you can integrate the same with social technology. Over time, you may transition completely out of the traditional methods or may opt to keep some in place, at reduced levels than in the past, and as dictated by the franchise development results achieved by the total efforts.
Integrating Traditional and Social Media Strategies
Traditional strategy: Tapping your current franchise network for customers that may be interested in your franchise concept. Various costly marketing tools include newsletters, post cards, in-store signage and printed materials. Approaching customers should be effective as they’re basically the low-hanging fruit that should be easily picked. Customers know the concept and are generally satisfied with the product or services. They’ve seen how busy the franchise unit is and have experienced the growth of the brand in the market.
Social media strategy: Invite franchise customers to the company’s social networking site and encourage them to participate. On the site, they should see videos and photos as we’ve described in parts one and two of this series. The effectiveness of this interaction is far stronger than introducing customers to the possibility of owning their own franchise through cumbersome print materials that get left in the back of the car or get discarded. Certainly the interactivity of the social network site blows away the message being told in print.
Traditional strategy: Advertising in local and national media for individuals interested in small business ownership, franchising and hopefully, your franchise concept. This is an expensive proposition as print advertising is very specific to a local market and multiple markets may be necessary to grow effectively. Or, the national publication costs are cost prohibitive for the size of your concept.
Social media strategy: Blogs are today’s media. Blog writers are today’s journalists. Through tags and various Web 2.0 tools (widgets), content is spread across the internet to multitudes of bloggers that ultimately wind up discussing and promoting your concept. As discussed in previous parts to this series, social network groups can be targeted to attract franchise candidates according to the ideal franchise profile you’ve created. This makes your actual sales efforts more concentrated to actual qualified candidates as opposed to dealing with the swarm of tire-kickers from print media.
Traditional strategy: Portal websites became very popular as the internet gained steam in both popularity and daily usage. Unfortunately, now there are so many portals that regurgitate leads across the internet that many portal leads have been contacted by 10-20-30 different “franchise experts.” This has created a “used car salesman” effect that has actually turned people that may have been interested in franchising, totally against the industry.
Social media strategy: Similar to the strategy identified above as the alternative to advertising in local and national media. And, instead of an interested party being directed to specific information, the social media effort gradually presents the facts and information about the franchise while encouraging interaction with the entire franchise family. This goes a long way towards building trust, an essential component to the franchise sale.
Traditional strategy: Personally, I believe franchise expos and tradeshows are quickly becoming a thing of the past. First, it’s just too expensive to send a team of representatives to man a trade booth in some city outside the city where the corporate headquarters is located. Further, people are intimidated by salespeople and prefer instead to search for opportunities online in a non-intimidating environment, and at their own pace.
Social media strategy: With the wealth and breadth of information available online, an individual’s computer is in essence, a virtual tradeshow or franchise expo. Why should an individual interetsed in franchising go anywhere else? However, it’s not good enough to just have a website. A website is static and two-dimensional. Instead, a blog and social network page, again as we’ve previously described, is essential to stand out from the crowd and create an interactive forum where the franchise candidate can learn and share information towards making an informed decision. Again, at his or her own pace and without feeling intimidated.
Integrating Non-traditional and Social Media Strategies
Non-traditional strategies: There’s a multitude of improved strategies that have been utilized in franchise development efforts. One, email marketing, is effective to an extent. Email blasts have become very common and have had a relative level of success. Greater success is achieved when integrating social media and relevant content links within the email message. Ultimately, the reader will spend significantly more time in and around the meail message as opposed to just discarding the same.
Social media strategies: Welcome to video email marketing. Or, as is commonly referred to as vidmail marketing. Actually, let’s call it email on steroids! Videos, an essential social technology tool, can be transfered to blogs and social networks to enhance the experience and more importantly, convey a consistent message in a dynamic form. People remember 10% of what they read. 20% of what they hear. And 30% of what they see. But, remember 50% of what they see AND hear together. So, which is it, email or vidmail?
Fluid Integration of Social Media
A blog post on The Buzz Bin, defined some basic “musts” for fluid integration of social media. They include:
•Ensuring overarching value proposition and related communications are available in social web when dialogue naturally permits
•Cross-promotion of URLS and calls-to-action through web, mobile and print media for giving, tell-a-friend, webinars, etc.
•Spotlight third party coverage from blogs in the press room
•Advertising: Word of mouth is buoyed by advertising, so social media efforts should be tied to ad campaigns for print, online and keyword marketing. “Connect on Facebook” and other similar calls-to-action should start becoming common aspects of your ad campaigns.
•Public relations: Integrating willing online influencers as part of your outreach is essential.
•Emails: Any email sent from an organizational property should also include a call-to-action for the social web. Think about this: People reading email are already online.
•Website: Prominent first screenview promotion of social media properties needs to be developed for the 1.0 site. We recommend a clean badge or clearly delineated text.
•Cross promotion of social web activities. Badges should link to a portal site that unites all of your social media properties (once you develop them). Then use the portal as the home page and calls-to-action site for all online activity
Certainly, this list is far more technical than the explanations provided in this series but they correspond very well and should be used as a guide when executing your plan to integrate social media with traditional strategies.
*This post was previously published on this site April 2011
The following is a guest post by David Muray. David is a marketing and a digital communications strategist. He carries extensive experience in social media, online community management, product development, and any project that requires creative out of the box solutions.
A member of iDetroit, David founded the Social Media Club chapter of Detroit, and is one of the co-chairs for FutureMidwest, the region’s largest technology and knowledge conference. He has also been featured in David Meerman Scott’s blog, Web Ink Now; and his book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR.
David’s passion is in helping others. He enjoys sharing how businesses can learn the true value of the digital landscape, which is relationships; and how job seekers can use social media to find employment.
Do You Really Communicate, or Do You Just Tweet?
Originally posted on The Way of the Murr blog, March 5, 2011
Do you try to connect, or do you just broadcast?
Are you creating content, or are you just blogging?
Do you tell or show someone what you like, or do you just hit the button?
Are you sharing, or are you yelling?
Are you helping, or are you telling someone what to do?
Do you share your passion, or do you simply share your products?
Are you really excited, or are you just bragging?
Did you write a resource, or did you just write a book?
Do you have think tanks, or do you just put on a conference?
Do you help educate, or do you just like to speak?
Are you a leader, or are you a rock star?
Are you bringing value, or are you just interested in the party?
Do you truly interact and engage, or are you simply showing up?
Are you showing up, or are you just checking in?
Do you share your accomplishments, or are you simply collecting badges?
Do you read, or do you just bookmark?
Do you feel, or do you think?
Do you have things to do, or are you just busy?
Are you here right now, or are you thinking about two hours from now?
Are you creating something others can participate with, or are you just building something?
Are you adding constructive criticism, or are you just complaining?
Are you critiquing, or are you jealous?
Are you in the business to innovate, or are you just making money?
Do you include creativity in your bottom line, or is it just revenue?
Do you create functionality, or do you just create apps?
Do you have an experience, or do you just have a brand?
Do you listen, or do you simply monitor?
Are you looking to create relationships, or are you simply looking for leads?
Do you lead, or do you manage?
Do you manage, or do you constrict?
Do you listen to people’s ideas, or do you just tell them what to do?
Are you excited, or are you scared?
Is it just about ROI, or is it also about communicating?
The ones who communicate the best, will win.
Does your business or organization truly communicate? Do you really strive to connect? Are you honestly trying to help solve a problem?
I hope so, because if you are only concerned with charts, graphs, numbers, and how well you are doing, you’ll be obsolete.
We won’t need you. We’ll create our own solutions, and we’ll do this by truly communicating with others.
Do you communicate, or… ?
*This post was originally published on this site March 2011
I agree local opportunities within social media are huge and I project it will continue to expand and improve as more tools and technology are introduced. Just think, it wasn’t all that long ago we didn’t even know about Foursquare and now it’s growing like crazy!
And, yes, franchisors should not “manhandle” social media and content marketing as some have dictated, but it is vitally important to have very detailed social media policies and procedures so that everyone within an organization participating in social media is afforded the opportunity to be as active as they so desire. That being said, their activity must be in line with the guidelines that are determined to be in the best interests of the brand. After all, utilizing the brand within social media should be deemed no different than using the brand name on signage or in traditional marketing. Ultimately, it is the brand’s trademark and use of the same, in any manner, still must comply with the franchisor’s authorization to use the same.
Social media should not be considered one-size-fits-all. Instead, a strategy must be developed in line with the goals and objectives for utilizing social media and all that goes along with the strategy including resources available to execute the plan, identifying targets and where they congregate and communicate, the types of social media that may be best suited for sharing information and in some cases calls for action, and of course, how the results are to be analyzed and quantified.
For instance, from a very simplistic point of view, how would anyone propose a chain of 500 franchise locations each be active on Twitter considering there are limitations on characters in the profile name? It’s one thing for each location to have an individual presence on Facebook by using the brand name along with a geographic acronym of sorts (XYZ Finest Pizza – North Hollywood, CA). But, how could the same be accomplished within Twitter especially to maintain consistency in the brand name? In this case I would recommend a corporate Twitter account for the brand only. In other situations, each location having a Twitter account may be feasible. But even then, that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate. Only proper strategy development will make that determination.
Certainly, mapping out the strategy and overall web presence, then planning out the role social media will play is the correct course of action. and will make implementing a social media policy must easier. Not to mention providing defined reasons for specific parts of the policies and procedures that can be used to “convince” franchisees to abide by the policies and procedures as opposed to unsubstantiated reasons which may cause franchisees to feel they’re in a “demand” situation. Convince rather than demand always wins out!
*This post was originally published on this site March 2011
I work with many franchise groups in developing and implementing social media strategies. Right now, there’ s a pretty equal split in franchisors handling all social media activities and franchisees participating in the activities. This includes financial and operational activities and responsibilities.
Personally, I believe franchisors should embrace and participate in social media from a brand standpoint. They should develop a basic social media presence and manage it accordingly. Of course, they should be responsible for related costs as well.
As for the franchisees, I believe they should have a presence as well, but with the franchisor’s guidance, training and direction to maintain brand consistency in appearance and message. As for day-to-day activity, franchisees should be responsible for their own posts, which of course, will be complemented by posts on franchisor’s site. Franchisees should also be responsible for the costs involved in day-to-day activity just as they are for marketing activities.
The most effective programs I’m working with include a very detailed, comprehensive social media training program for franchisees. Many franchisors are now incorporating the same into their initial franchisee training. The training provides know-how, basic understanding and the information necessary to move forward in social media effectively and efficiently.
The problem I have found with the franchisor taking on all responsibility, financial and operational, is that franchisees never really realize the effort, nor the results. And, they never truly understand what social media is and they never fully appreciate the benefits of social media. Programs in these scenarios are certain to fail.
Social Media, with involvement and responsibility at all levels of a franchise organization, should provide multiple benefits including creating brand awareness in new markets and improving brand awareness in established markets, generating consumer interest in the brand and building franchise candidate interest in the concept, driving business to franchise locations and generating leads for franchise development, providing firm base for due diligence efforts by both consumers and candidates, enhance marketing efforts through integration of social media activity with traditional marketing to consumers and candidates alike, and develop a foundation for transparent and honest communications and information sharing throughout the franchise organization.
With proper planning and diligence, social media can be a very effective tool for franchise organizations and will be a stepping stone to embracing more and more social media as it continues to expand and develop. Done haphazardly and off-the-cuff, it can be very frustrating and disappointing and as such, will be considered a failure and a waste of time.
*This post was originally published on this site March 2011
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