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