The following is from the Localization and Social Media section of the recently released Retail Franchise Industry Report 2012 as shared by Franchise Direct. We’re excited to see franchisEssentials President & CEO, Paul Segreto, quoted in this section of the report…
Localization and Social Media
“People want to do business with people. They buy from people. Sure, the brand may get them in the door, but it’s the person representing the brand that they want to do business with,” says franchising expert Paul Segreto. “So, as consumers technologically advance it’s not uncommon for them to check out the local franchisee’s Facebook page or LinkedIn profile, perform a Google search of the franchisee, etc.”
In fact, findings from the 2012 Customer Insights Survey showed roughly three of every four consumers use Facebook to make retail (or restaurant) decisions. With more choices in the marketplace than ever before, it’s important for franchises to go beyond the price and quality of the products being sold and reach out to consumers where they are. Because of this, franchises are well served by letting franchisees foster relationships within their local communities that could lead to brand loyalty. Increasingly, this is being done through social media.
Whether is with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Yelp or any other site, engaging customers and informing them about the choices they have in their backyard is always a good move. Relating the flow of money to the human body, David Boyle, researcher at The New Economics Foundation said in a Time Magazine interview, “Money is like blood. It needs to keep moving around to keep the economy going. [When spent in non-locally owned entities] it flows out, like a wound.”7
A franchise with a good advertising and marketing strategy that includes attention to local initiatives is very valuable to franchisees because no two markets are alike. As such, the advertising and marketing for different markets should be similar for brand continuity, but not exactly the same. Furthermore, many consumers find products and services by performing local searches, not searching out the corporate website first. Cultivating local media with tailored messages for specific areas is important to make a franchisee’s services relevant to that area’s consumers.
According to Segreto, “franchisors should not take a rigid approach with respect to messaging and social involvement. New media is all about interaction and engagement, and as such, requires a ‘personal’ touch at the local level.” One franchise system that has adopted the personal, localized social media and website concept is Apricot Lane Boutique. Each Apricot Lane franchisee is provided social networking set-up programs (including support and content for a Facebook page for their store, as well as Twitter and Pinterest). Franchisees also have their own customized website for their store.
Localized social media efforts can translate from friend to friend resulting in the word-of-mouth recommendations businesses of all types crave. One emerging way of rewarding local patrons through social media is offered by Foursquare. Foursquare recently launched a “local updates” tool geared towards letting businesses send messages about specials and events to customers wherever they happen to be at the time. The specials and events aim to capitalize on word-of-mouth advertising from those who buy from their store and take actions that advertise that store to their circle of contacts.