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!

Franchise Candidates: A Changed Mindset

This article was originally posted on August 13, 2009 as Franchise Candidates: A Changing Mindset. Well, I guess we can revise the title slightly to reflect candidates’ current views – A Changed Mindset. Nevertheless, the article may be even more relevant today as franchising attempts to rebound from the economic downturn and continues to explore more viable lead generation strategies that will attract today’s franchise candidate. Many continue to explore social media and have realized its position as an integral and effective component of these strategies… of course, when utilized according to a plan.

caution-01A look at today’s franchise candidates will reveal they are more sophisticated, better educated, and more technologically advanced than ever before. In addition, and even more so because of the economic downturn, they are extremely cautious.

Today’s candidates are spending more time researching opportunities, and doing so at a much slower pace. In order to be diligent in the process, more time is spent online pouring through page after page of information, constantly bookmarking, and moving back and forth from new information to saved information. They’re comparing notes with other franchise candidates on social networking sites. As well, they’re gaining invaluable insight monitoring online discussion groups and forums.

Ultimately, today’s franchise candidate desires and needs to be certain the franchise opportunity is as close to perfect for his or her situation, as humanly possible. In the past, and especially after previous recessions, franchise candidates took their capital gains and invested in a franchise opportunity. Many times leaving the principal investment untouched. There was a sense of throwing caution to the wind because they were investing profits. Many times ungodly profits, at least by today’s standards. Does anyone remember when money markets kicked out 17% profit margins?

Unfortunately, many individuals looking at franchise opportunities today are looking at things differently. They have to. Many are transitioning corporate executives staring at the back end of illustrious careers trying to squeak out just ten more years before retirement. Facing the challenge of younger talent, new technology, and a rapidly changing business environment, many opt to “buy” a job and explore franchising and small business ownership.

What Changed?

Here’s the difference between today’s recession, and of those in the past. As huge fortunes have been lost, and large gains have not been realized in current financial markets, today’s candidates are forced to invest all or part of their remaining nest egg in order to enter the world of business ownership. Of course, everyone knows and fully understand the risks involved in owning a business. But in yesterday’s business environment, many franchisees and business owners were “gambling” with profits.

Certainly, no one wanted to lose money in a business venture. But, many had fallback positions with funds still in retirement accounts and of course, if they had to, employment. For many of today’s candidates, failure is not an option because fallback opportunities are fast becoming non-existent. Actually, I believe many of today’s candidates might not have even considered franchise or small business ownership in the past.

So, as many individuals explore their options, they will focus more and more of their efforts online. Franchisors must embrace this fact, and dedicate more resources to the internet and look to social media to complement, not replace, their traditional franchise marketing strategies. By doing so, they’ll realize multiple benefits for their entire system including:

– Creating or further developing brand awareness with franchise candidates and consumers alike
– Generating franchise leads that are genuinely interested in exploring what franchising and small business ownership has to offer, and how a particular concept may be the vehicle to achieve their goals and objectives
– Establishing an interactive environment of communications and information sharing that will become the backbone of future franchise relationships throughout franchise systems

Last, many franchise candidates previously viewed franchising and small business ownership as a way of achieving their wishes, hopes and dreams, regardless of what those may have been. Today, it’s more about goals and objectives, and necessities. We, as an industry need to fully realize this, and understand the mindset of today’s franchise candidate.

The New Media Effect on Franchise Sales & the Franchise Relationship

This is third post of this week based upon my recent interview with Renee Bailey at Franchise Direct. In this part of the interview our focus turned to what many within franchising look for day in and day out… the silver bullet to increase franchise sales. When social media became more and more popular, many franchisors wanted to use social media to attract franchise candidates. Many thought, incorrectly that social media was a form of advertising. My response to the first question below sheds a different light on social media in the franchise sales process.

In the second question the focus was media’s affect on the franchise relationship. My answer was short, but to the point.

Finally, in the last question below we discussed a new trend in media – Social Mobile Local or SoMoLo.

New Media

How are franchisors utilizing social media to connect with prospective franchisees throughout the prospecting process?

Great question because many are not connecting with prospective franchisees. Social media is not the silver bullet many want and expect to make the sales process easier, or even to generate leads on its own.

Instead, social media for franchise development should be looked at as a vital complementing component in the traditional lead generation process. That means it should provide a support mechanism that candidates can be directed to and that candidates can find on their own in their own due diligence. Today’s candidates are also more diligent and cautious than ever before. Social media allows them to virtually stand next to a brand and experience how that brand interacts with its customers, franchisees, etc.

All that being said, social media can be utilized in the franchise development process as a way to drive candidates to a specific event like a webinar, where the concept can be explained in detail. The key here is that one-size-fits-all strategies with social media do not work effectively.

One more thing: it’s critical to ask questions at the onset of utilizing social media related to expectations and desired results. This is crucial in evaluating whether or not the program worked. As important as click-thru’s, insights, impressions, etc. are in analyzing the process and program itself, looking at desired results against actual results is really the true Social Media P&L.

Have new media options available altered the franchisor-franchisee relationship?

Of course, but they don’t need to. New media is all about truth, trust and transparency. Really, isn’t that what the franchise relationship should be built upon?

New media is a wonderful way of keeping in communications at all times. Embrace and adapt is what I typically advise. It’s important to receive proper training to fully understand new media and all its capabilities and features.

How does a personal brand enhance the overall brand of a franchise system?

The new trend in digital marketing, or better stated, in attracting today’s consumer is referred to as SoMoLo, or Social Mobile Local.

  • Social, we’ve touched upon above.
  • Mobile is just the way consumers are choosing to access and search information, and communicate.
  • Local, well, that’s all about the “personal side” of the business transaction.

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 business with. 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. What they hope to find is a person of experience and integrity. [Even] the banking industry is leaning towards utilizing a social reputation score for business loan applicants that will rival the credit score.

Tomorrow, in the last post in this series we’ll wrap up the discussion with a questions about local websites and a word of advice for prospective franchisees.


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Franchise Social Media Basics – What a Great E-IDEA!

how-franchisors-are-using-social-mediaThis is the second post based upon my recent interview with Renee Bailey at Franchise Direct. As the interview progressed, Renee and I discussed challenges franchisors face integrating new types of media and how franchisors and franchisees alike could better utilize mediums at their disposal.

What are some challenges franchises are facing concerning integrating new types of media?

The biggest challenge franchises face with new media is a lack of understanding that like anything else, requires planning. Many are not taking the time to:

  • develop and explore the various media available
  • identify their targets along with identifying where they congregate and communicate online
  • develop a strategy based upon the targets (which may actually require sub-strategies for each target and their online communities)
  • execute the plan and all that goes into it, including dedication of financial AND human resources in managing and monitoring activity, and of course
  • analyze and quantify results in order to continue moving forward or adjusting as necessary

Yes, that’s a lot to grasp but it is essential to developing an effective program utilizing new media. Basically, what I’ve described is e-IDEA, which is something we utilize religiously when working with franchise clients – Explore, Identify, Develop, Execute, and Analyze. It really is a great, simple guide to follow.

How do you feel franchisors and franchisees can better utilize the mediums at their disposal?

By working together, as many franchisees essentially “got there first,” meaning they were posting within social media in its early stages. It’s important to utilize their efforts as a foundation on which to build a uniform social media or new media program.

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. Of course, there needs to be guidelines and certain policies to protect the brand. But that is more common sense than anything.

Also, I believe franchises shouldn’t get all caught up in just driving LIKES. It’s more important to create a community of sharing and engagement. I much prefer seeing a Facebook with lower number of LIKES but a high number of post views. That tells me that people are coming back day after day after day to see what is on the page. Whereas just LIKING a page, they may never return. What good does that do?

Tomorrow we’ll turn our attention to how franchisors are utilizing social media to attract prospective franchisees and also, Social Mobile Local – more affectionately known as, SoMoLo!

Note: Photo credit to 1851 Magazine


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The Focus on Franchise Marketing is Local, Local, Local!

Local appears to be the common denominator in all discussions about marketing in franchise circles. From mobile marketing to social media to software solutions, the discussion always seems to comes back to “local.”. We have even seen Google’s continued shift to complete emphasis on local which has created what appears to be a whole new segment of marketing, local marketing, complete with its own strategies, methodology and tools.

The following is a guest post by Chris Anderson, Co-founder at Empowerkit. Chris enjoys sharing his perspective, insight, and experience whenever and wherever he can as is apparent by his active participation in various franchise LinkedIn groups.

5 Local Online Marketing Support Mistakes Franchisors Should Avoid

Bringing in new franchisees is how franchise systems grow and maintain financial stability, especially early on, and it’s what most franchisors lose sleep over more than anything. But to maintain steady growth, corporate support to existing franchisees plays an essential role – from marketing and advertising, to operations and ongoing training.

All too often, though, franchise support takes a backseat to sales, leaving franchisees feeling alienated from the franchisor and disenfranchised (pardon the pun).

One thing in particular which franchisees are desperately seeking guidance on is online marketing. More specifically, how they can make sure they’re staying competitive online, attracting as many local customers as possible, and generating leads to grow their sales.

Here are 5 common blunders to avoid in franchise local online marketing support:

1. Static Local Websites

Many franchisors, early in the growth process, publish basic landing pages for franchise locations with very little unique local content, and no easy way for the franchisee to make updates. This results in poor search rankings, pathetic conversion rates, and upset franchisees that often go rogue and create their own sites.

What should you do?

Provide a system like Empowerkit, where franchisees can easily make updates to their own websites, within the brand and content controls you set and can oversee at corporate.  Make sure the system is flexible and can adapt with your changing needs over time.

2. No Business Listings

Franchisees generally don’t know the first thing about submitting and maintaining their business listings on Google Places, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Yellow Pages, and other sites. So, if you don’t give them instructions and best practices, or provide an automated solution, then guess what…there are no business listings for your locations! Complete, comprehensive business listings are a key traffic driver and lead generation source, so don’t make this mistake.

What should you do?

First off, lead by example. Make sure your corporate listing is complete and consistently listed in all of the main search engines and directories. Next, decide whether to engage a specialized vendor, utilize an automated service, and/or provide documentation and best practices.

3. Ignoring Social Media

Whether you love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, and franchisees in almost every industry are trying to figure it out. Franchisors who ignore social media are finding themselves chasing down compliance issues, and seeing dozens of disparate profiles and pages that are poorly managed. Translation – a nightmare for your branding. Worse, they’re missing a great opportunity to gain a competitive edge. Don’t let this be you!

What should you do?

Don’t fight social media, embrace it. It’s the only communication channel that let’s a business directly interact with customers and other stakeholders, which is valuable any type of business. Develop a strategy with defined goals at the local level, layout any necessary policy guidelines, and train franchisees on best practices. Consider working with an outside consultant initially, and remain flexible to adapt your strategy based on results and changing trends.

4. No Attention to Lead Generation Optimization
It’s easy to get lost in what to focus on when it comes to local online marketing, and lose sight of the performance metric that matters the most – lead generation (particularly for service-based franchises). Generating leads is a science, which can always be optimized to bring in more, better qualified prospective customers. In most cases, though, franchisees have little more than a Contact Us page or their phone number and email on their website, and research shows this will produce the lowest possible lead generation results.

What should you do?

Have at least two compelling calls-to-action with connected lead captures on each page of your local websites. One for prospects that are just browsing (i.e. “Free Download: Top Tips for X,  Y, Z”) and the other for those who are “sales ready” (i.e. “Schedule a Free Consultation”). Have analytics events set up that track conversion rates, so that you can test and optimize the different lead generation variables over time to continually increase conversions.

5. No Content Marketing Strategy

What’s becoming key to all online marketing efforts is a sound content strategy. That is, understanding what types of content can be created at corporate and the local level to offer customers relevant, valuable answers to their questions, and solutions to their problems, which should directly relate to the franchise’s products and services. Value driven content is what should fuel the ongoing local website updates (and lead capture CTA’s), social media profiles, online ads, and it’s what has the greatest impact on SEO.

What should you do?

Think long and hard about your brand’s culture, story, strengths, and competitive advantages. Then brainstorm your target customers top questions and frustrations as they relate to solutions that your products and services offer. Come up with ideas for content that can address these questions in a compelling way, and that will help amplify your brand online. It may be through blog posts, videos, photos, webinars, or other content, but the point is that you put a strategy in place and start implementing it through your local online marketing efforts.

These are just five common mistakes that franchisors make. Please share other pitfalls to avoid, and let us know if you have any questions!

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One-size-fits-all Social Media Solutions… A false prophecy!

As could be expected, many within franchising entered the year determined to make things happen. As also could be expected, many turned to social media, believing it could be the answer to improving sales at the unit level, increasing interest in their franchise opportunity, and considered social media a low or no-cost alternative to what they’ve done in years past.

Unfortunately, many have failed in their social media efforts. The reasons? Well, many did not understand the ins and outs of social media marketing. Some didn’t even understand the basics of the most fundamental social media; Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And others failed because they were just not 100% committed to the effort. But, are these the real reasons they failed?

Well, as you may have guessed, the answer is, “No!” Ultimately, failure in social media is a direct result of failing to plan. Referring to the old adage, “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” causes me to shake my head in bewilderment at the statements posted in many of the online discussion groups recommending what clearly points to one-size-fits-all social media solutions. How much planning goes into a one-size-fits-all solution? How much commitment actually goes into a one-size-fits-all solution from both the consultant making the recommendation and the client that signs on? How much does a one-size-fits-all solution address outside the realm of the basic social media platforms? I don’t believe it’s ironic or a coincidence that the same questions I pose here are similar to the reasons many fail in their attempt to utilize social media.

Success in social media takes hard work. It takes a well-defined strategy based upon a clear, concise understanding of objectives and desired results. It takes a firm commitment of dedicated resources in both time and money. It takes knowing who the target audience is, where they congregate and communicate online, what messages need to be delivered to create interest, and seperately, to create a call for action. It takes full comprehension of a contingency plan based upon what if…? In essence, it takes planning!

Brian Solis, author the best-selling book on social media, Engage!, and Fast Company expert blogger, recently wrote an article on this very subject, In Social Media, Failing to Plan, is Planning to Fail. He wrote, “I’ve received a series of inbound requests for comments based on a report from Gartner, an IT analyst firm, that estimates as many as 70-percent of social media campaigns will fail in 2011. There are a series of discussions hitting the blogosphere and the Twitterverse exploring this very topic, some elementary and others on the right path. I contacted Gartner earlier this week and the problem is, that this data isn’t new at all. In fact, these discussions are fueled by information originally published in 2008 and in early 2010. Yet another example of the importance of fact-checking in the era of real-time reporting, yes, but, when I paused for a moment, I appreciated the timelessness of this discussion.

Are many of the social media programs in play yielding tangible results?

No …

Are they designed to impact the bottom line or are they tied to meaningful business outcomes?

No …

The truth is that you can’t fail in anything if success is never defined.”

To franchisors, I suggest, before choosing what appears to be a one-size-fits-all social media solution, take the time and expend the effort to develop a social media strategy that not only reflects your current status, but one that can evolve as your system grows. And, be sure to involve your franchisees as it is essential that local objectives to drive sales are integrated in the overall plan that may also include franchise development objectives. Keep in mind, many plans will include multiple objectives that may require that different social media be utilized for optimum results. And don’t forget to integrate your social media plan with your overall marketing and development plans!

Solis concludes his article, “Success is not a prescription. There isn’t one way to excel. That’s the point. Success requires definition based on intentions, goals, and mutual value … across the organization from the top down, bottom up, inside out and outside in. Success is defined departmentally and also at the brand level. There’s much to do …”

Read the complete article HERE.

* This post was originally published on this site July 2011


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Franchise Growth or Future Problems?

After what many franchise professionals claim was a tough couple of years, franchising seems to be gaining momentum once again. This is very encouraging news! But, franchisors must be prepared, not only to handle the increase in inquiries, but in working effectively with today’s franchise candidates who many have indicated are more diligent and cautious than ever before. Many of today’s candidates are voluntarily or involuntarily unemployed, soon to be unemployed, or, may just want to control their own destiny, and are approaching business ownership with the attitude that failure is not an option. In dealing with these candidates, it is essential to exercise extreme diligence in presenting the franchise opportunity all the way through to executing the franchise agreement, and beyond.

I know, many franchise professionals are probably thinking they already do that. Besides, it’s the law to fully disclose the opportunity, right? They’ll go on to state they’ve always done things by the book, at all times. Blah, blah, blah! It really doesn’t matter what was done in the past, how it was done, or why it was done. What matters is that the opportunities that present themselves today and in the future receive timely, diligent attention, at a high level of professionalism, in order for a transitioning corporate executive / business professional to even consider a company’s franchise opportunity. And, if they ultimately do sign the franchise agreement, remit the franchise fee, and commit to investing a substantial sum of money, rest assured these new franchisees will expect and command a high level of accountability from the franchisor, and from the system itself. From themselves? Not likely as they will rarely blame themselves for any part of failure. But they will hold others accountable.

Well, my fellow franchise professionals, it’s time to press those conservative suits, study your franchise documents, fine-tune your operations, and examine and perfect your franchise sales process as any shortcomings will surely raise their ugly heads in the future if today’s new franchisees become dismayed, discontented, and or fail in their businesses. They will not hold themselves accountable. Instead, they will blame the person who “sold” them their franchise, or the operations department that they perceive to have provided little or no support, or the franchise executive that they feel showed no compassion in “forcing” them into paying royalties and advertising fees.

So, why did I turn what started out to be a positive of increased franchise interest after a year of disappointing results, and turn it into a picture of potential problems complete with gloom and doom? To encourage and motivate every franchise professional to be on his or her A-game and to put their house in order. Not only to bring new franchisees and revenue into the system, but to continue to grow their system with franchisees that, when attaining a relative level of success, will refer new franchise candidates, validate the franchise system, and possibly look to purchase additional locations in the future. The alternative of course, is dedication of resources to dispute resolution, and possible litigation. Remember the old Fram oil filter commercial? You can pay now, or pay later!


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Attention Franchisors! Is this a legitimate way to attract franchise candidates?

Working with many franchisor clients in developing lead generation strategies, I’ve run into a situation time after time that really has me perplexed. The situation has to do with a particular franchise organization using a franchise brand name, not their own, to direct franchise candidates to their site.

Often, the appearance of the site appears legitimate, complete with Google Ads and a great deal of reference to franchising. In fact, there’s often a quote from the unsuspecting franchise brand’s site included on the directing site. So, what appears to be a legitimate person as author to the site leads candidates to believe the author is also the author of the unsuspecting brand’s quote.

Confusing, right? Wait, it gets better…

The reply forms on the page give the perception the candidate is providing information to the brand they searched, and as listed across the top of the page, only to have the completed form directed to the franchisor that developed the directing site.

Take a close look at the actual link provided below to see for yourself. Then, check for a similar page online that includes your brand name because I have found hundreds of similar situations with the same franchisor behind this practice.

http://www.wsicorporate.com/article/mcdonalds_franchise_for_sale

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Attracting Female Franchise Candidates via Social Media

“Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, right? On Venus, there’s allegedly a lot more touchy-feely, emotional stuff going on…you know, talking, crying, connecting. Well, according to a study by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, there’s a lot more of something else going on too: social networking.”

Read more about how women are utilizing social media in small business in the blog at Information Week SMB Technology for Small and Mid-size Business. The article, Social Media for Small Business: It’s a Girl Thang! refers to a study in which 1,200 small-business owners across 12 verticals (including financial services, high-tech, hospitality, and real estate) were surveyed, found that female entrepreneurs value social media “at three times the level” of male small-business owners!

This corresponds with our experience in working with franchise clients across various industry segments, where we continue to see more and more women explore franchising as a career alternative. And, for a variety of reasons, women choose to control their own destiny and take matters into their own hands.

Joining the force of today’s more sophisticated, educated and technologically advanced transitioning corporate executives, women are using social media to explore and investigate franchise opportunities. Tending to be more diligent and thorough than men in general, women relish relationship building and sharing of information making social media marketing perfect to attract female franchise candidates.

Several key steps to an effective social media strategy include, identifying targets, identifying where they congregate and communicate online, and identifying the online influencers of the target audience. In the case of women as a target audience, the blogging community is a perfect place to start, providing direction to other social media via links within the blogs along with direct “follow me / join me / like me” buttons. It’s within these captive “online communities” where franchisors can share information about their brand, interact with community members, and create interest in their franchise concept.

* Here’s another article supporting the case that women are embracing social media more than their male counterparts.


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With Social Media Comes Great Responsibility

Within the LinkedIn franchise groups we continue to see discussions about social media. There’s great interest in what still appears to be the unknown. With fundamental questions being asked and basics being discussed, there is still a level of exploration and discovery going on. Yes, and uncertainty as well.

But, there are also discussions about how to utilize social media better, more efficiently and effectively. Many are exploring ways to expand their social media reach into franchise marketing and lead generation. While others are determining how it can help drive business to franchise locations. And, others are looking into improving system-wide communications, support and training through the many facets of social media. Certainly, the franchise community is embracing social media more and more each day.

Discussions have also centered around social media guidelines, policies and procedures. Who’s allowed to do what is an often repeated question? Other questions touch upon Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter presence, types of posts, information to be shared and continue through to crisis management. All are very important topics of discussion and all must be addressed prior to launching a social media program.

That being said, it’s essential an overall strategy be developed that addresses these questions as well as establish goals and objectives of utilizing social media within your organization. Brian Solis, globally recognized as one of the most original and most prominent thought leaders in social media, is very insightful as to how organizations should embrace social media. In his recent book, Engage!, A Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate and Measure Success in the New Web, he shares that insight.

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, investor, entrepreneur and Chairman, HDNet, is quoted as saying, It’s no longer an era of business as usual. Executives and entrepreneurs must embrace new media in order to not only compete for the future, but for mind share, market share, and, ultimately, relevance. [Engage!] helps you engage. Without it, you’re competing for second place.

In Chapter 17 of Engage!, Defining the Rules of Engagement, I believe Solis truly delivers the message, and addresses many of the underlying questions I’ve outlined above. At the very least, with respect to these questions, Solis provides what is in essence an outline of what must be considered as businesses take the next step within social media.

With Social Media Comes Great Responsibility
from Engage! by Brian Solis
Chapter 17, Page 205

Please remember these words…

Perhaps the biggest mistakes committed by businesses, personalities and brands in social media occur when people jump into social networks blindly without establishing guidelines, a plan of action, a sense of what people are seeking and how and why they communicate, an understanding of where people are congregating, a definition of what they represent and how they will personify the brand online, and the goals, objectives, and metrics associated with participation.

Everything starts with education and the instruction of policies to protect individuals and brands.

In addition to setting the guidelines and regulations for how and when employees [and franchisees] should and shouldn’t engage online when it relates to the company, we must teach our spokespersons, ambassadors, and advocates how to leverage the immediacy, extent, and potential of these powerful social media tools. Our communities will follow by example.

Holding informal and infrequent workshops and/or publishing internal guidelines for self-consumption and interpretation is not nearly enough to satisfy the substantial requirements for an in-depth comprehension of the scenarios, circumstances, objectives, hazards, and nuances associated with engagement, influence, and community building.

This is more than publishing and it’s far more important than empowering employees [and franchisees] with the ability to chat online.

It is our responsibility to contribute to the increase of a significant, tuned, and strategic signal, with a high ratio to noise. I assure you that in doing so, you will earn a place among the elite in the ranks of social, new, and emerging media practices within your organization.

Recently, on Franchise Today, my guest, BJ Emerson, Social Technology Officer at Tasti D-Lite, mentioned social negligence. At the time, I thought it was a powerful statement and was intrigued by its implications. But now that I’ve read Engage!, I truly understand what BJ was referring to, and now realize the power and magnitude of social negligence… and social responsibility.

This post was originally posted on this site April 2010.


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