Social Media in Franchise Organizations: Who’s Responsible?

I work with many franchise groups in developing and implementing social media strategies. Right now, there’ s a pretty equal split in franchisors handling all social media activities and franchisees participating in the activities. This includes financial and operational activities and responsibilities.

Personally, I believe franchisors should embrace and participate in social media from a brand standpoint. They should develop a basic social media presence and manage it accordingly. Of course, they should be responsible for related costs as well.

As for the franchisees, I believe they should have a presence as well, but with the franchisor’s guidance, training and direction to maintain brand consistency in appearance and message. As for day-to-day activity, franchisees should be responsible for their own posts, which of course, will be complemented by posts on franchisor’s site. Franchisees should also be responsible for the costs involved in day-to-day activity just as they are for marketing activities.

The most effective programs I’m working with include a very detailed, comprehensive social media training program for franchisees. Many franchisors are now incorporating the same into their initial franchisee training. The training provides know-how, basic understanding and the information necessary to move forward in social media effectively and efficiently.

The problem I have found with the franchisor taking on all responsibility, financial and operational, is that franchisees never really realize the effort, nor the results. And, they never truly understand what social media is and they never fully appreciate the benefits of social media. Programs in these scenarios are certain to fail.

Social Media, with involvement and responsibility at all levels of a franchise organization, should provide multiple benefits including creating brand awareness in new markets and improving brand awareness in established markets, generating consumer interest in the brand and building franchise candidate interest in the concept, driving business to franchise locations and generating leads for franchise development, providing firm base for due diligence efforts by both consumers and candidates, enhance marketing efforts through integration of social media activity with traditional marketing to consumers and candidates alike, and develop a foundation for transparent and honest communications and information sharing throughout the franchise organization.

With proper planning and diligence, social media can be a very effective tool for franchise organizations and will be a stepping stone to embracing more and more social media as it continues to expand and develop. Done haphazardly and off-the-cuff, it can be very frustrating and disappointing and as such, will be considered a failure and a waste of time.

*This post was originally published on this site March 2011

Bookmark and Share

Social Media as a Must-do for Business Success

I was recently asked the question, “How do you convince small business owners that social media is a must-do? It wasn’t difficult to answer as it’s something I’m asked almost every day, and my answer remains the same. The reason? Quite simply, it works!

I believe the best way to convince small business owners to embrace social media is to educate them one piece at a time. Education must consist of both awareness and teaching.

Working with franchise organizations, I’m typically presented with the challenge of working with a mixed group of early adoptees all the way to diehard change-opponents, and many differing opinions in between. Some of the holdback is definitely generational as older businesspeople tend to be intimidated by new technology. Others are overwhelmed by the perceived complexity of utilizing social media effectively. While others chomp at the bit to move forward with full vigor!

My philosophy stems around making the learning process enjoyable. Regardless of differing opinions, skill levels and perceived or real understanding, the common denominator is emotion. Of course, emotions are easiest to work with when the path towards achieving goals and objectives is broken down into manageable components. At each transition point, a satisfying moment is key to moving the process along. For the various experience levels, the starting point is not the same.

Key elements of this process include hands-on instruction, which is made so easy today with the continued improvement of online meeting platforms. The ability to share screens creates a learning experience similar to a skilled worker manipulating and guiding the hands of an apprentice in the fine art of shaping a gem.

It also affords the opportunity for “students” to learn at their own pace. And, once they master one part, let’s say Facebook, we proceed to another. Then, when that part is mastered, they learn how to integrate the two. For the more advanced it may mean working within a complex campaign of integrating basic social media with email marketing that includes video with specific geo-based objectives.

I know I veered off course and addressed the process I’m passionate about, instead of focusing on the question at hand. But, it does take sharing the passion to get the non-adoptees to drop their guard and put their toes in the water. The exhibited passion must work towards building their confidence. The transfer of passion typically results in the desire to move forward. Many never look back.

Yes, I believe it all stems from education. We must continue to provide information, show examples of practical application and success, and get them to participate… but allow them to do so at their own level and pace.

One of my most satisfying success stories had me working with a successful 50ish year old female franchisee that was intimidated by social media. She was reluctant due to her own fear of looking stupid to others. She was afraid she’d make a catastrophic mistake she wouldn’t be able to correct. Her fear was very real and very difficult to overcome. She’d often exclaim, “How can I keep up once I start? It’ so overwhelming!”

Well, long story short, she has become extremely proficient at utilizing social media. Her biggest motivation to take it to a new level was a result of her daughter referring to her as a “cool Mom” because she was embracing Facebook along with other “cool” social media. Is it ironic that they now communicate better than ever? After all, social media is all about communications. She now sees how this can help her communicate better with customers. And, she is enjoying herself more in business today, than yesterday.

Bookmark and Share

“Serving Those Who Served For Us”

support_our_veteransHere’s another fine example of how the franchise community continues to provide assistance to veterans, including transitioning military service personnel. The following is a reprint of a blog post by Cyndee Perkins, Computer Explorers Director of Curriculum and Program Development. Additional information regarding Computer Explorers veterans support may be accessed HERE.

Question: I read that COMPUTER EXPLORERS is offering classes for military veterans. What is that about?

Answer: Bud Hadfield, owner of COMPUTER EXPLORERS, is a WW2 veteran who wants to “serve those who served for us!”

As posted on Computer Explorers Blog (August 20, 2009)

COMPUTER EXPLORERS is incorporating project-based learning to help military veterans in their job-search and career placement. The first pilot program will be underway September 8-11 at Northwest Forest in Houston, Texas.

Using our proprietary curriculum to learn MS Office® applications (Word, Power Point and Excel), participants will develop their resume’s, explain their life and work experience with PowerPoint, and establish personal budgeting processes. They will showcase their “projects” via our new social media course (focusing on LinkedIn, Twitter and FaceBook) to develop business contacts and job opportunities. These practical applications will enable the vets to explore wider employment opportunities. Hadfield, who was a Dale Carnegie instructor for 20+ years, has also created a short Personal Development Workshop to help the vets speak comfortably in front of a group and to develop interviewing skills.

We’re excited about doing these classes, and are looking forward to meeting with the veterans in a couple of weeks! Let us know if you have any suggestions that you think we should include as part of the course content!

Social Media Training For Employees

Yesterday, I read an informative article by Ben Parr (Mashable) about training new employees in social media. The article, “How to Train New Employees in Social Media” was posted on the American Express Open Small Business site and included the following seven tips to social media training:

1. Consider writing guidelines or a social media policy: A policy can clear up confusion and help you keep employee focus away from what they shouldn’t do and towards what they should be doing. We wrote great guides on whether you should have a policy and 10 must-haves for any social media policy over at Mashable.

2. Make it clear you aren’t policing: The focus is on ways to use social media to promote the business, rather than ways to avoid embarrassment. Make that clear to new recruits and stress that you won’t be policing. Rather, you’ll be trusting in their good judgment and their ability to control privacy settings. The Associated Press quickly learned what happens when you become overbearing.

3. Test their social media knowledge: You’re going to have to individualize each employee’s social media training. While one may have 10,000 followers on Twitter, the other may have no idea what a blog even is. Don’t assume everyone’s at the same level.

4. Have them start their own blog: If your employees have writing-specific duties, give them a homework assignment: start your own blog. The practice of setting up a WordPress account, writing posts, and promoting them is real-world education.

5. Give them required reading: Give them a good book or two on using Twitter or pitching to blogs. Give them a set of blogs (don’t forget Mashable!) that they need to read. Have them subscribe via RSS for efficiency’s sake. Finally, encourage them to subscribe to other blogs and explore their interests.

6. Hand them the reigns: They can read and learn, but you have to trust them eventually with the reigns. Once your new employees are getting comfortable, have them tweeting, making videos, and coming up with initiatives. The more they submerge themselves, the faster they’ll learn.

7. Impress upon them the importance of social media: Yes, some employees simply won’t get it unless you put it into context. Explain how far your reach goes with a single tweet, or provide examples of how businesses were hurt by an inability to understand Facebook.