The following was my response to a business executive that posted the following discussion on LinkedIn in a non-franchise group:
How are you and your business using social media to drive business and gain awareness? With the social media landscape becoming increasingly fragmented and complicated, how are you managing to gain the most from this medium?
“All of my clients are within the franchise industry which is a more difficult environment in which to effectively utilize social media because there are different elements to the relationship between franchisor, franchisee and customer as opposed to just B2B or B2C. That being said, it can and is being done quite effectively. However, it takes a very concentrated focus, or as I fondly describe as [E-IDEA], the acronym for franchisEssentials five step process to social media success:
1. Exploring different aspects of Social Media, including Social Networking and key Web 2.0 technology that creates excitement and brand awareness within your industry segment.
2. Identifying primary and secondary targets – Who will be targeted to purchase and/or visit your franchise locations? How deep do the target groups go and are there collateral groups that can be tapped?
3. Developing a Strategy and Plan of Action – Customized to specific targets in accordance with franchise development goals and objectives?
4. Executing the Plan – Putting the plan in motion including monitoring, managing the process including new content and updates. Keep it fresh!
5. Analyzing & Quantifying the Results – Is it working? Do you continue straight ahead or repeat the process from the beginning? What are actual results in franchise sales and system revenue?
Yes, there are many aspects of social media and more being added every day. That doesn’t mean it’s being fragmented. Instead, it’s providing more tools in which to cross-reference and link together. Unlike traditional marketing that is more or less a straight line, social media marketing, used most effectively, is a cross-platform, multi-tiered strategy that uses multiple Web 2.0 tools to cross in front of the targeted audience multiple times and from different directions.
It’s akin to the businesses with limited marketing budgets that only advertise on TV once or twice a month, at one specific time but on multiple channels simultaneously. Then, when the consumer changes the channel upon seeing the commercial, again and again, the perception is “this business is everywhere and must be spending a fortune on advertising. Therefore, it must be good.”
Unfortunately, social media marketing is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. The strategy must conform to the organization’s goals and objectives and must target the appropriate audience by the appropriate means (Web 2.0 tools). For instance, if the target is young adults age 15-18, MySpace would be an essential component of your strategy. Couple that with a lot of video and audio, as this age group gets bored very easily.
On the other hand, if the targets are businesses in the insurance industry, your strategy might include developing a blog for industry professionals and then linking the same through LinkedIn to insurance groups. Simultaneously, you may develop a Facebook page to refer interested parties to visit and/or join.
A key factor in an effective social media strategy is to be sure to integrate the same with your traditional marketing. As an example, if your company frequently uses direct mail, be sure to include the company’s various social network links, blog links, etc. In a B2B environment, do the same with your blast email campaigns. And, in a corporate environment where you may be attempting to attract a consulting client, personalize your traditional strategy with social network interaction and enhance it with video and audio messages.”
Now that you have read this article, I’ll ask you straight up, “What is your social media marketing strategy?”