So, managing a social media presence for a franchisor really amounts to managing the social media presence for one large corporation and many, many smaller, local companies – all of whom may share a product and a brand, but often little else.
Of course, every company that distributes through local, retail outlets possesses unique challenges and opportunities. But, we have found that there are several critical capabilities that a social media management application must deliver:
- Structure. Social media management must fully integrate a corporate parent and its retail outlets, recognizing the very different objectives and needs of each entity. There must be an “Enterprise” version focused on management concerns, as well as an “Outlet” version focused on local market opportunities. And, the two versions must “talk” to each other.
- Support. Franchisees and local dealers rarely spend their day worrying about the social media. Their focus is rightly on attracting and serving customers – and earning a profit so that they can open their doors tomorrow. These local businesses, ranging from a franchised pizzeria to a multi-million dollar auto dealership, all demand product support, some of which can and should be provided by a corporate parent. But, effective social media management also demands the ability to provide technical and marketing support to the corporate office, as well as to thousands of retail outlets.
- 3 M’s: Monitor, Manage, Measure. A number of applications provide individuals and independent businesses the opportunity to participate in the social media. But, in larger organizations, social media management applications must also provide sophisticated management capabilities. In fact, franchise companies report that their number one requirement is the ability to listen to all their retail outlets, all the time. This, and other key management functions, is only accomplished through the maintenance of an outlet database integrated into the social media management application.
Companies that maintain a distributed, local sales presence – like franchises, dealers, direct sellers and others – enjoy the ability to engage their prospects and customers locally, where they both live and work. But, this ability also entails unique organizational challenges that must be contemplated when developing a social media presence.