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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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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Rules of Engagement within the Social Web

Recently, I posted, With Social Media Comes Great Responsibility, which included text from Brian Solis‘ new book, Engage! Solis talks about establishing guidelines before jumping blindly into social media. In essence, a plan of action must be developed before taking the plunge.

Today, I will take establishing guidelines a step further, and refer to Solis’ Rules of Engagement. In the We Are Champions section of Engage!, Brian lists 23 suggested rules of engagement that when defined, and in conjunction with establishing policies and procedures, will “help shape proactive and reactive dialogues to benefit the business, brand, customer, peers, and prospects.” But, so as not to cause any confusion, he does puts a fine point on this in stating that these rules are “not the same as implementing and managing rules of conduct.”

Rules of Engagement
from Engage! by Brian Solis
Chapter 17 – Pgs 201-202

1. Unveil the communities of influence and discover their choices, challenges, impressions, and wants.

2. Participate where your presence is advantageous and mandatory; don’t just participate everywhere and anywhere.

3. Consistently create, contribute to, and reinforce service and value.

4. Concentrate participation where it will offer the greatest rewards for both sides.

5. Assess pain points, frustrations, and also expressions of contentment to establish emotional connections.

6. Determine the brand identity, character, and personality you wish to portray – and match to the individual persona who’s in front of it when online.

7. Adapt predefined personalities with the voice of the community in which you engage.

8. Observe the behavioral cultures within each network and adjust your outreach accordingly.

9. Become a true participant in each community you wish to galvanize.

10. Don’t speak at audiences through messages.

11. Dig deeper to connect what transpires in the Social Web to your business objectives.

12. Learn from each engagement.

13. Ensure that any external activities are supported by a comprehensive infrastructure to address situations and adapt to market conditions and demands.

14. Establish a point of contact who is ultimately responsible for identifying, trafficking, or responding to all things that can affect brand perception.

15. Act, don’t just listen and placate – do something.

16. Earn connections through collaboration.

17. Empower advocacy.

18. Embody the attributes you wish to portray and instill.

19. Don’t get lost in conversation or translation; ensure your involvement strategically maps to objectives specifically created for the Social web.

20. Establish and nurture beneficial relationships online and in the real world as long as public perception and action is important to your business.

21. “Un-” campaign programs and ensure they’re part of a day-to-day cause.

22. “Unmarket” by offering solutions and becoming a resource to your communities.

23. Give back, reciprocate, acknowledge, add value, and contribute where it makes sense.

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