February 2013 Archives

Are You a LinkedIn Pest?

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In a recent discussion within the LinkedIn Franchise Executives group a question was asked about how best to present products and services to group members.

The question stemmed from a revision in group rules put in place to keep the group focused on its objectives of exchanging ideas, sharing information, and promoting best practices within franchising.

By attempting to eliminate the clutter of self-promotion, MLM opportunities, and even franchise opportunities, revising the rules was seen as the most practical way to retain group members and increase participation.

Here's the question and my response regarding value-added discussions.

Question: "Outlining some guidelines is an excellent way to embark and start bringing a format or platform to enhance value to the group, congratulations on your initiative.

Please tell us at what point information and value added discussions should be introduced to the group in your mind. I think anyone here is interested in gaining value and as well, sharing value, but it all sooner or later leads to developing new business, directly or indirectly, that is mutually beneficial.

There is a fine line between "advertorials" and "value exchanges".

Are you able to define further what format, discussion or response you think would serve the reader and the writer (group members) best? "

Answer: "I believe value-added discussions can be introduced at anytime. However, I do believe it's a social networking best practice to "earn the right" to do so by getting to know group members, participate in group discussions, and contribute to the same.

Then, based upon a perceived group or industry need, I suggest initiating a discussion about that need (or challenge / issue).

Certainly, one can lead into presenting within the discussion details of their product and how it could satsify the need, address the challenge or resolve the issue.

The key is not to immediately shove the product or service down members' throats.

I believe what is often overlooked or ignored, is that group members, especially ones being sold to, have knowledge about franchising, are aware of the needs, challenges and issues the industry is facing, and may actually be aware of the companies providing services and products in the area of concern.

What they may not be aware of is the person presenting a company's products and services. And, people buy from people, right?

So, I recommend anyone with the objective of selling products and services be a person first, by developing relationships with group members. Then, be perceived as an expert in your field by sharing knowledge and experience through participation. I believe sales should follow.

As an added note, I believe the same process works within other social media including Facebook and Twitter, with platform appropriate modifications to plan."

I've always felt that restaurants have the most to gain in social media, at least for right now.

After all, social media conversations "began", so to speak, with consumer review sites, such as Yelp, that were mainly restaurant focused at the time.

People love to eat, and love to share what and where they eat. This is great news for restaurants! The key to success in the future will include being where the customers are when they are looking for somewhere to eat out.

Currently, that means that restaurants need to be mobile. With so many people continually on the go and making decisions while they're out and about, you have to be visible in the mobile world to be noticed.

Consider the following statistics:

  • 52% of smartphone users have located a local business' directions or hours of operation while on the go
  • 27% of smartphone users look for local business information on their phones daily
  • 24.2% of smartphone users have used their mobile device to place an order ahead of time at a restaurant

The infographic below highlights the apps that are most often used with regard to restaurants.

Take a look at the list and see where your restaurant is.

If you're not using any of the apps, it might be worth the time to check them out and start using them!

Restaurant-Apps2.png

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

I have been spending a lot of time on LinkedIn over the last week or so.  

I have joined a couple of new discussion groups and the conversations have been lively and informative.  

Being listed in the top 5% of profiles viewed is a great honour, but being one of 10 million, I am not going to let it go to my head.

Mostly the discussions fall into various types of marketing and it is interesting how passionately people advocate for the medium in which they are invested.

Everyone talks about the need to communicate with the end user, understand needs, create value of brand, have accurate response mechanisms and develop calls to action that will give you the best return on your investment.

Okay,  so if we are all in agreement that marketing is to establish brand identity and lead people towards a call to action, why is one way better than all the others?

My way of seeing things is that different types of people respond to different marketing methods and mediums and messages and none of them are wrong, they are just different.

The key is to understand the brand, overall strategy and objectives and build an overall strategic marketing plan that communicates these objectives over various mediums, to different audiences, in varied ways, to capture different market segments.

Take the time to understand who your audience is and what is important to them.    

People who respond to Pinterest are very different from people who respond to ads in the Wall Street Journal.   Both may be your clients, but to attract both audiences, your message needs to be crafted in a way that elicits response within the medium chosen.

We will be attending, sponsoring and exhibiting at the Digital Strategy Conference in Vancouver April 23-25th, 2013.

If you would like to attend, here is a code to get you a 20% discount on the admission price:   promo code BCAIM20

We hope to see you there so that we can learn together how to develop new and innovative strategies to Get YOU Noticed!

The post Are you saying the same thing. . . only differently? appeared first on CMYK Solutions Inc..

LI has announced that it will not allow group owners to deliver the News to their members using RSS feeds.

LI will stop supporting RSS feeds after March 15, 2013.

There are no LI plans to allow a substitute for RSS.

"No further content will be pulled into groups via RSS after that date, and the News Feeds link in the left nav of the Manage tab will go away, as will the homepage toggle to show or hide RSS discussions."

LI has decided that there is only way way to promote dialogue, the LI way.

"As Monica Wright aptly put it in her guest post nearly a year ago (http://blog.linkedin.com/2012/03/29/linkedin-groups-publishers/),

"If you want to promote dialogue and sharing, feed content is not the way to do it." 

Some LI group owners, moderators and managers feel differently.  And, if you are are one of them, please read on and comment on my workaround.  We can make it work better.

7 Steps to Better News

1.  Collect your current feeds from your group.  Go to manage and click on News Feeds, in blue.  (Click on the image to see a bigger picture.)

RSS Feeds.png

2.  Get a Free RSS Reader, I use NetNewsWire for Mac.  Create folder and subscribe to your feeds.  (In this example, I am subscribing to all the RSS feeds from Jon Fricke's group on Trucking.)

Here is a list of RSS feeds, John sent me via LinkedIn email.

Feeds.png

3.  Copy and paste each hyperlink into your RSS reader.  You will discover that some of your RSS feeds no longer work, and you might see screen like this or a some other error message.

FeedBurner Errors.png

No worries, this means that the RSS feed wasn't delivering news to your LI group.  It is likely that the RSS feed has simply changed.  You need to go back to the source and find out where the RSS feed is now.

4. This what my RSS reader looks like after I subscribed to all Jon's working RSS feeds.

Subsciptions.png

 

5.  The next step is to review the articles and share appropriately in the Jon's group, a step Jon and his moderators can also do.  (I will have more to say on this later in a follow-up article.)

Here is a fun article, about Catepillar being defrauded in China.  (I picked this article because my skill in detecting this type of fraud - well before it happens.)

Scam.png

6.  Finally, let's share it into Jon's groups with the appropriate headline and summary reflecting my take on the story, based on my own experience.

LI Share.png

I have changed the title, and found a couple of lines in the story which express what I think is interesting, and shared it with the group.

7.  Many of you will have read this far and wondered how this was going to work.  After, I just gave Jon a lot more work to do moderating his group!  Yes and no.  How does Jon get his readers in his group to help him moderate these RSS feeds.  Simple: OPML.

I can export the RSS feeds in NetNewsWire as an OPML list, send it to John.  John then gets to decide who has the privilege of sharing stories into the group and then sends them the official OPML list.  (Sharing other stories could get banned in some groups.)

Happy to answer any questions in the comments below.  Hope this works for you.

 

In January, I attended the Franchise Expo South in Miami. I heard the same 3 questions from numerous franchisors and franchisees over and over again.

1: How do I use Social Media to market my National Franchise to other potential franchisees?

2: How do we scale Social Media for our Franchise to the many locations across the country?

3: What are we doing wrong with our current Social Media strategy?

There are many intricacies that each franchise must consider before answering these questions.

The nature of your franchise

Are you in a regulated industry? Does your business include handling of proprietary information, either your own or that of your customers? Does public communication constantly need to be approved by legal before being shared? Is there potential risk of real damage to your company or your customer by inadvertent sharing of confidential information? Are you in a position where you can quickly do damage control if something bad happens? This may be true with certain companies in the health, law, insurance or governmental fields.

If this is the case, consider whether you are able to put adequate controls in place to permit real-time (or frequent) social media interaction at a franchisee level.  You also might want to consider how you structure your marketing department.  

Do you have specific territories that are managed by local marketing directors?  etc etc.

Individual presence vs one, overall brand

For instance, are there parts of your business that are different location to location? All franchisees believe their markets are different, and, in fact, they often are. They may be urban or suburban. They may have customers with different demographics or socio-economic status.  But are they so different that you accommodate that difference by allowing variation in your products, pricing, coupon offers, marketing, promotions, décor, etc.? If the answer is yes, entrusting franchisees with locally oriented social media may actually be more beneficial, not only for the customer, but for your workload too.

Some franchises, however, may make more sense just having one Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter account to encompass all locations.

Budget

Are you willing to invest in consultative resources to ensue that both your corporate team and local franchisees are educated online reputation management, content curation/ generation and measurement?  If so, you need to have the ability to put together social media guidelines and a policy that makes sense for your franchise.  You also need to schedule training for each your locations on best practices in social strategy, paid advertising, positioning in the local markets.  

Whether you go with a centralized approach or local, you need to be ready to invest in hiring someone or a 3rd party to handle this for you.

Having said this, I've put together 2 ways to market your franchise using Social Media that any franchise can start today.

1: Create a Community

Being a part of a community will help market your franchise on so many levels.  For example, if you're a commercial cleaning franchise and you want to attract more franchises in regions that you don't currently have them, you can utilize social media to start combining the appealing entrepreneurial mentality of your target market along side your cleaning opportunity.  More specifically starting up conversations on social channels with these people and getting them engaged with your website, start nurturing them with email content, and tying in the social network amplification effect by having their interactions with your community amplify out to their network.  

You can then identify influencers and people more engaged with your brand to do further marketing amplification.  I recommend partnering with agency that specializes in working with franchises on this level.

 2: Local Optimization

Implementation of a social media strategy  for your franchise can come from many forms.   Most common are contests, updates, pictures, video and measurement.   Now with the focus that Google (Google Plus Local) has on local and mobile, you have to start thinking about social media from these angles.  You also have to think about how other local social media sites like Foursquare, Yelp and listing sites like YP.com affect your local SEO.  

Ask yourself things like... Do all 3000 locations of my franchise have the most up to date location data?  Are people finding me on Google Maps? Are my franchisors active enough on social media enough to affect the search engine results of local consumers?  What happens when I want to change that data?  How in the heck do I manage it!?  Are my local listings affecting my overall SEO?  What are people saying about me on local social media sites?  

You should seriously consider all of these questions and take immediate action internally or through an agency has had experience in this area.

3: Listen

I'll keep this short. Too many brands and small businesses are using social media to blast out messages. No one cares about your widget.  The fact of the matter is that millions of people are on social channels, engaging in conversations relevant to your local car wash business.  You should be engaging with these people to HELP them with their daily life.  In turn, they will follow you and share your content.  

Listening can also come in the form of Research and Development.  Target your listening into other communities similar to your franchise and listen to what people are saying.  You'll be surprised on what you can learn about your target demographic by just putting your ear to the wall.

Do you have any franchise marketing success stories?  Have you used social listening tools to capture good insights about your current or potential customers?  Please comment below.

Based upon my recent interview with Renee Bailey at Franchise Direct, we discussed a new trend in media - Social Mobile Local or SoMoLo.

1. How are franchisors utilizing social media to connect with prospective franchisees throughout the prospecting process?

Great question because many are not connecting with prospective franchisees. Social media is not the silver bullet many want and expect to make the sales process easier, or even to generate leads on its own.

Instead, social media for franchise development should be looked at as a vital complementing component in the traditional lead generation process. That means it should provide a support mechanism that candidates can be directed to and that candidates can find on their own in their own due diligence.

Today's candidates are also more diligent and cautious than ever before.

Social media allows them to virtually stand next to a brand and experience how that brand interacts with its customers, franchisees, etc.

All that being said, social media can be utilized in the franchise development process as a way to drive candidates to a specific event like a webinar, where the concept can be explained in detail. The key here is that one-size-fits-all strategies with social media do not work effectively.

One more thing: it's critical to ask questions at the onset of utilizing social media related to expectations and desired results. This is crucial in evaluating whether or not the program worked.

As important as click-thru's, insights, impressions, etc. are in analyzing the process and program itself, looking at desired results against actual results is really the true Social Media P&L.

2. Have new media options available altered the franchisor-franchisee relationship?

Of course, but they don't need to. New media is all about truth, trust and transparency. Really, isn't that what the franchise relationship should be built upon?

New media is a wonderful way of keeping in communications at all times. Embrace and adapt is what I typically advise.

It's important to receive proper training to fully understand new media and all its capabilities and features.

3. How does a personal brand enhance the overall brand of a franchise system?

The new trend in digital marketing, or better stated, in attracting today's consumer is referred to as SoMoLo, or Social Mobile Local.

  • Social, we've touched upon above.
  • Mobile is just the way consumers are choosing to access and search information, and communicate.
  • Local, well, that's all about the "personal side" of the business transaction.

People want to do business with people. They buy from people. Sure, the brand may get them in the door, but it's the person representing the brand that they want to business with.

So, as consumers technologically advance, it's not uncommon for them to check out the local franchisee's Facebook page or LinkedIn profile, perform a Google search of the franchisee.

What the consumer hopes to find is a person of experience and integrity.  Even, the banking industry is leaning towards utilizing a social reputation score for business loan applicants that will rival the credit score.  Franchisees need to keep their social reputation score high.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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