Social Networking & Franchise Lead Generation Revisited

In light of discussions at this year’s International Franchise Association Convention about “new” ways of generating franchise candidate leads, and as I continue to field an influx of questions from start up and emerging franchisors trying to find a “silver bullet” to jump-start franchise sales, I am again sharing the following article I wrote back in 2011 as the principles continue to apply to this day. Actually, they may apply even more today as more and more have adopted social networking platforms as major sources of securing information and for communicating.

Social Networking and Lead Generation

We’re often asked if social networking can be utilized effectively for franchise lead generation purposes. Well, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

When working on a lead generation project, establishing objectives is paramount to the success of the overall strategy. Assuming the strategy has been developed, complete with establishing an ideal candidate profile and identifying specific geographic areas for expansion, we typically proceed as follows:

First, we focus on networking groups that include individuals that best fit our client’s ideal candidate profile. From there we drill down to individuals in the geographic area we’re targeting per our plan. Let’s say teachers fit my candidate profile. we would search out networking groups specific to teachers, education, etc. Then, we would participate in discussion groups to get a feel for the group and to be noticed and subsequently accepted within the group. There’s always a spin one could use to achieve this objective.

Next, we seek out members from the specific geographic areas we’re targeting and begin communicating what we’re ultimately trying to accomplish… to generate interest in a specific franchise opportunity. Sometimes there’s interest right there in the group. Often, it’s a referral that we get that makes the effort within that group worthwhile.

We also focus on groups that can provide me with referrals such as insurance agents, realtors, financial planners and attorneys. Again, if you’re proactive within networking groups it’s relatively easy to enlist support and gather information. Again, there has been some interest from members of these groups but it’s amazing how many times we’ve been referred to an interested party who lives in another part of the country that is willing to jump at an opportunity in my target area. You see, the fact that it stems from a referral is key!

Lead generation through social networking takes time and effort no doubt. However, once you’re proactive within networking groups, you almost end up with a snowball effect as the leads come in bunches. Some leads start out by simply posting a thought provoking discussion with some back and forth interaction with a responder and the responder saying,”what is it that you do?” Next thing you know, you’re discussing an opportunity and the door is wide open.

Most times however, it takes considerably more effort, but we’ve found people are networking online and participating in discussion groups for specific reasons. They’re all looking to expand their business, improve their position, seek out various types of opportunities, and make money. Attracting these individuals online sure beats running an ad in the local paper and waiting for the phone to ring!

An Hour a Day with The Big Three Social Networks

I often hear many individuals state they don’t have enough time in a day for social media. Well, I know we can all squeeze in an hour of social media work somewhere, but the key is to do it efficiently to accomplish doing it effectively.

Just like eating an elephant, take one bite at a time. Never try to do too much at one time. And, try to make all your social media activity relevant and in line with your goals and objectives for entering social media in the first place. Once you’re past the development stage of setting up accounts at the Big Three social networks, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, including establishing “complete” profiles, dedicate 15 minutes to each network which I recommend doing so at the beginning of the day. Total time spent – 45 minutes.

Check previous days’ activity, making sure to use each networks “notifications” features effectively. Respond to direct comments and requests accordingly. Check discussions and respond as necessary, review other individuals’ responses, always keeping an eye open for new contacts. Post a discussion, status statement as appropriate Again, keep your goals and objectives in mind. Last, post a few tidbits of information through links to items of interest to your target group. Hey, I hate to beat dead horse here, but make sure everything you do is in line with your goals and objectives for being involved in social media in the first place.

Establish Google Alerts so you know what is being said about you or your brand throughout the day. As you check your email, whether by computer or mobile device, take a glance at any alerts that have come through, and only immediately address negative comments. Then, at the end of your day, take five minutes to review each of the three networks activity, respond only to activity that is very pertinent or urgent, and mentally prepare for your next morning’s activity. This will give you some time to think about discussion responses, etc. Total time spent – 15 minutes.

Shortcuts and Tools Help!

As for posting links to tidbits of information, as you progress through the day, keep an eye open for information through newsletters you subscribe to and in reading news online. When you find something of relevance, bookmark it for later in the day. Use tiny urls to convert long links to manageable links and to accommodate 140 characters within Twitter. Learn how to use key tools such as Facebook applications that convert your Facebook activity to Twitter activity, and applications that enable you to post in advance throughout the week.

*This post was originally published on this site March 2011


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Optimizing Your Social Networking Presence

Whether you’re establishing your presence on Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the other social networking sites, it’s important to get the most out of your experience for it to be effective in your marketing efforts. Basically, it’s important to optimize your social networking presence. In the book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, the author, David Meerman Scott, detailed how to get the most out of social networking sites for marketing with the following suggestions:

Target a Specific Audience – Create a page that reaches an audience that is important to your organization. It is important to be thinking about a small niche market.

Be a Thought Leader – Provide valuable and interesting information that people want to check out. It is better to show your expertise or at solving problems than to blabber on about your product or company.

Be Authentic and Transparent – Don’t try to impersonate someone else. It is sleazy and could do irreparable harm to your company and to your reputation.

Create Lots of Links – Link up to your own sites and blogs, and those of others in your industry and network!

Encourage People to Contact You – Make it easy for people to reach you online, and be sure to follow up personally on your fan mail.

Participate – Create groups and participate in online discussions. Become an online leader and organizer.

Make it Easy to Find You – Tag your pages and add your pages into the subject directories. Encourage others to bookmark your pages.

Experiment
– These sites are great because you can try new things. If it isn’t working, tweak it, or try something new.


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