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The Importance of Social Media at the Local Level

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October 2012
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Social media is changing the ways that businesses talk to their customers and in a good way. 

In days gone by (read before the internet) just about the only way to communicate to your customers when they weren’t standing at your front counter, was either through the letter box with a leaflet drop, on the radio or TV.

TV and Radio campaigns were, and still are, broad based and not able to be targeted to individual stores within a group, such as a large franchise group.  The message is generally a national or state one and it is talking to not only current customers, but it is trying to gain new customers as well.  This isn’t a bad thing either and is very necessary.

The letterbox can be localised but can be costly as print runs with only a few thousand leaflets is cost prohibitive.  As with TV and radio, it too is talking to current customers and trying to get new customers as well.

It’s 2012 and there is a way of advertising which is not only very cheap for local businesses (franchisees generally) it is also just about the only way a brand can talk directly to the local customers and potential local customers.

Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare allow local franchisees an opportunity to talk directly to their customers.  The customers who part with their hard earned over the counter.  The customers who the local franchisee gets to know by name and recognises as they shop in the same supermarket.  

I’m not discounting the need for there to be a national presence for a brand.  Far from it.  Quite often the national pages on social media can deliver clear, national messages, like the launch of a new product or advertisement or a national competition or offer.  What the national presence can’t do or won’t do is talk to the customer who has just tweeted that they loved the service at their local store and that customer recognises that the person talking to them online is the same person who talks to them face to face as well.

Quick Communication

The local franchisee can also quickly communicate to their customers about a happy hour special or deliver some great news about something a team member has announced such as getting married or winning an award etc.  You know, stuff that is personalising the message at the local level.  Or for some reason there is a lot of product left over due to a slow day so the local franchisee sends out a status update or email to the LIKERS/FOLLOWERS etc that there is a special being run this afternoon between 4pm and 5pm.  The national franchisor is not going to send out an offer which will only benefit a small portion of their follower counts.

This leads me to an important point.  If a local store wants to run a special, eg a Friday Free Upgrade or a cheap Tuesday, the national franchisor cannot advertise this as it may cause confusion with followers going to another destination asking for the offer which is not available there.  This will not only annoy the customer but also the other franchisee as they feel pressured to honour the deal that another store has going.

The other important factor is local community involvement.  The local page can assist with letting the local community about a fundraiser at the local school or sporting club.  It can even donate to the local fundraising effort by offering a special deal with the proceeds being donated.  The local page can put up a photo of a local student who is representing the local area somehow.  This builds loyalty and community involvement and customers will reward the local franchisee through time.

Through the local store, the overall brand can earn a reputation of caring about the communities it has its brand presence in.  This is so important for ongoing success, no matter the size of the organisation.  McDonald’s, as an example, is still holding McHappy Days each year to assist with the Ronald McDonald House charity.  They still sponsor local sporting teams.  They are one of the biggest companies on the planet yet they still have a very important local presence.  

Guidelines 

If a franchisee does have a local page then it is important that there are guidelines set up by the franchisor which will need to be followed.  This may include the banning of obscene language and images, incorrect use of the logo, promotion of non core products etc.  The local pages can be monitored by the franchisors marketing team and the marketing team can send out core messages which they recommend be used on the local pages.  The marketing team should also provide professional food shots for use on local Pinterest pages as well because we all know a picture tells a thousand words.

If after training, the local franchisee is not operating the page as to the guidelines then remedial training or the closing down of the page may be considered.  

It is important that the franchisor rewards those who are doing it right by allowing local pages, instead of implementing policy based on the few who may not.

The End Game 

At the end of the day, the use of social media is to grow a loyal following of customers and potential customers.  If used correctly, social media should assist in growing sales and revenue and therefore profits to the franchisee and royalties and therefore profits back to the franchisor.  

The local page does not replace the national page but together they exist in a symbiotic relationship, both feeding off of each other with the same goal in mind…GROWING SALES.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for finally talking about >The Importance of Social Media at the
    Local Level A Blog About NothingMuch <Loved it!

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