#FranCamp Social Media/Marketing Recap

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The Takeaway from FranCamp 2011: It’s Not About You, It’s About Them

That’s the simplistic underlying theme as outlined by each of the Social Media Experts who spoke at the first annual FranCamp: The Social Media Un-Conference for the Franchise Industry. Who would’ve thought that all the while you were trying to generate buzz for your business and get the word out about your services and products offered, that the key to effective social media interaction is that the conversation wasn’t supposed to be about you all along? In fact, according to Jack Monson, Vice President at Engage 121, your social media conversation ratio, conservatively, should be 90% about your audience and 10% about you. That notion might leave some franchise pros scratching their heads and wondering, “So if I never talk about my business how will people know about my business?” Good question.

Paul Segreto, President and CEO of FranchisEssentials and 25-year Franchise Professional, says there are no magic tricks to LinkedIn. He advises that there are things you can do to make your profile more robust and more credible to your connected audience, such as using the Reading List by Amazon application to show how thoughtful you are or Blog Link to display your latest blog entries, which offers a nod towards your insightfulness on topics which should be of interest to your audience. However, overall once you have connections to some you’re sure to find more recommended connections, then once connected to those you can look like a legitimate business in no time. If only that was the case for Twitter and Facebook.

It’s difficult to understate the importance of the effective utilization of one of the highest trafficked websites ever, such as Facebook. As stated by AK Stout, CEO of Saying It Social and Marketing Expert, having a respectable number of Facebook ‘Likes’ nowadays is equally, if not more important, than an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau. That can be an intimidating amount of pressure for a franchise owner to measure up to. It can be done, however, and is achieved through proper engagement. If your conversation is more community-based rather than based on your business, you will measure up to said standards. When garnering ‘Likes’ on Facebook, make the conversation about your audience, tell your fans they’re great and talk about things pertaining to their interests. For franchises, AK Stout also recommends that each location have its own Fan Page. Why? Because it’s easier to protect the integrity of the brand and stay on message when you don’t have to manage, say, the entire state of Ohio’s Seven Eleven Fan Page. Customers and patrons might post negative feedback from time to time and it’s easier to manage and address the feedback quickly and successfully if handled by individual franchise. An important point AK Stout noted is that when the conversation is about the community, negative feedback can happen, but business owners should never run from that. Instead, push the conversation into something positive by publicly addressing that customer’s concern, but be sure to do it on that medium; provide an incentive, perhaps a coupon offer and most of all: Apologize. For continuity of care, be sure to apply the same rules for Twitter.

Jack Monson of Engage 121 has some Twitter rules if you’re unsure that what you’re doing to engage your audience is working or want to ensure your franchises’ strategy keeps working: 1) Increase your tweets, 2) Change how you tweet, 3) Improve the content of your tweets, 4) Stop. However, like Jack Monson admits there is no such thing as a real strategy for Twitter, per se. He does suggest that there most certainly is at least a content strategy. The strategy is simple, where he offers his best Twitter tactics, and is also all about your audience. For one thing, follow your audience. Sure, sounds simple enough, but no really - follow everyone that follows you. That sounds like crazy talk, but it’s a tried and true Twitter tactic that the more people are aware you’ll follow them, the more likely they are to follow you. So tell them, and while you’re at it, ask them a question - about them. Additionally, engage with people outside of your brand. What that does for your audience is show them that you aren’t one-dimensional, that as a franchise owner you care about and can engage on other things and it essentially just makes you look more interesting and less self-involved. Similar to AK Stout’s insights regarding Facebook, Jack also advises that businesses should always respond to thoughtful criticism on that social networking channel. Speaking of other channels, he reminds you to be sure to cross-populate with other networks; this allows for your Facebook audience to still hear what you have to say on Twitter and vice versa. Thanks Jack! Now, if only there were a strategy for getting some of your followers to buy you lunch daily…

While these were only some of the helpful and straightforward insights for franchises discussed at FranCamp 2011, one thing was abundantly clear throughout the message: It’s not about you, it’s about them. So what’s the takeaway? If being a successful business owner means getting the word out about your business and getting the word out about your business effectively involves some form of social media, there are ways to do it well and ways to do it right. Although it’s critically important for franchise owners today to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on for establishing brand legitimacy, it is also just as important that the franchise owner knows how to garner said legitimacy with its customers. Make it about them.

Udeme Edoho-Eket, Senior Marketing Consultant @FLYWITHSMS, www.flywithsms.com

Additional photos can be found here!