April 2014 Archives

Recently I met with a franchisor that is quickly growing the franchise across Canada. What I discovered about the company's social media surprised me...not because I haven't seen evidence of it before with other franchises but because I've never met a franchisor state it quite as plainly as this one did.

The franchise had a Facebook page and a Twitter profile that were relatively well-maintained.

It also had a slew of Google Plus pages, none of which were optimized or being utilized.

When I opened discussions into ways they could expand the audience of their (what I assumed to be) corporate brand pages, they said they weren't looking to grow them as representative of the entire brand because they only represented the one corporate location and not the franchise overall.

Hmmm...

Then when I asked about the lack of franchisee pages and profiles, they said that was up to the franchisees.

They didn't care what the franchisees did with their social profiles because it was "their business."

I was stumped...not that a franchisor hadn't put a plan into place to support franchisee social media growth but that a franchisor actually said it wasn't their business.

Franchisee social media not a part of the franchisor's business? To say this is short-sighted is an understatement.

What this franchisor hasn't come to understand (and what I did try to impress upon them during our meeting) is that every bit of franchise exposure, be it local, corporate, or lack-there-of, impacts the franchise overall and each local franchise.

The strength of the corporate brand presence impacts the franchisees, and the strength of each franchisee on social channels impacts every other franchisee and the corporate brand overall.

Why? Because social networking is both hyper-local and global at the same time, and online conversations are public and pervasive.

This franchisor took an entirely hands-off approach to franchisee social media marketing. While this may, at first glance, appear to be exactly what prospective franchisees may want, consider what this really means (given that you know you absolutely, positively must be on social media, of course):

  1. Setting up social media pages and profiles will be up to you.

  2. Designing graphics to fit properly and capture audience attention will be up to you.

  3. Getting your audience to like and follow your pages will be up to you.

  4. Developing and posting consistent, creative content will be up to you.

  5. Paying for relevant social promotions will be up to you.

  6. Providing customer service will be up to you.

  7. Responding to comments and other interaction will be up to you.

  8. Doing all this while you do everything else involved in running and growing your franchise will be up to you.

  9. And if you don't do it, your audience may not find you and your customer base may not grow.

Now I'm not advocating that you should buy into a franchise where you have zero input regarding your social media communication...unless that is what you want.

I'm simply asking that you consider the impact of having a franchisor that leaves social media entirely up to you because "it's your business."

As a franchisee, you are buying into a franchise because it has a duplicatable, working system that you can put into place.

It's a well-oiled machine with the training and support you need in order to implement it in your local market.

Shouldn't there be a system for social media as well?

You decide. It's up to you.

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For the next week, we are putting a big focus on thinking about the Retail Industry given our Retail 150 Local Marketing Report Card research.  

When watching 60 Minutes, you might think that in a couple of years most retail sales would all occur online and be delivered by airborne drone.  

Instead, the industry data paints a much different picture.

1) 91% of retail is still local

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2) The eCommerce growth rate is slowing down.

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3) Amazon is the key winner and quickly outmaneuvering search engines like Google with value added customer services like Amazon Prime and ratings and reviews.

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4) But online is more important than ever - but to in-store retail sales.  About half of in-store sales is influenced online and that percentage is growing every year.

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5) And, retailers are doing a poor job of using local online marketing to drive in-store sales.

This creates a mandate for most retailers to effectively use local online marketing to drive in-store sales.  

Gartner released research that showed that large, multi-location retailers that integrate local marketing processes will increase revenue 10-15% by 2015.  That's a billion opportunity for many of them.  

Sadly, most large retailers are failing in the 4 Pillars of Local Marketing according to our recent Retail 150 Annual Local Marketing Report Card.  

The average grade was just 3.58 out of 10 and local social ... well, no one is really doing it well.

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Conclusion

So retail is still local, but the web is actually much more important than retailers realize - not to eCommerce revenues but in-store revenues.  

Given the failings of the industry to adapt to leverage local online marketing, now is actually the time to leap frog the competition and quickly drive differentiation and top line revenue with a high degree of ROI.

 

Download the Retail 150 Local Marketing Report Card

 

 

 

Research conducted in the last two or three years has provided some interesting insight into why it is that we engage with social media:

  • 80% of the content posted on social media sites, during a study conducted in 2012, were generalized posts about the immediate experience of the user. That could be something as simple as, "So tired...not ready for the week to start" or "Stuck in traffic - going to be a long day."

  • Another study showed that users tend to share advertisements and promotions that are an extension of their self-concept, and one of course that is entertaining.

  • Finally, sharing content in the spirit of offering help, advice, or suggestions to others gives people the sense of giving to others. By sharing that great article with a coworker who can benefit from it, you are really being benefitted as well, although in a different way.

So, is this what drives us to engage in social media content?

We want to show the "social world" who we are, how we want to be perceived, all the while being important and helpful to others?

I came across a great article that discusses this in more detail. The author gives a great example of what may be a typical "social media" day for any one user and explains why content is shared.

In thinking of the examples above, the article talks about how these types of content posting activities activate the dopamine reward system, which provides that internal reward that so many of us crave.

The more content sharing and posting in these various ways, the more that reward system is activated.

In extreme cases, it can be likened to a "drug" that people seek out to feel better about themselves.

From a business standpoints, it's a good thing to keep in mind as your marketing team is developing advertisements and engaging with customers - providing information that is entertaining, easy for customers to associate themselves with, and viewed as something that can be shared to help others may increase the virality of the content and enhance brand loyalty and engagement.

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]

In today's fast-paced, high-tech world, the entire landscape of the media has changed - and continues to change each day.

At Ripley PR, we're constantly keeping an eye on traditional and new media, so that we can make recommendations to our B2B public relations clients that will help them land an interview or bylined article, in a newspaper, industry publication, or even on a blog.

This article from Ragan caught our attention.

It outlines some points to keep in mind in dealing with journalists - points that can ensure you get quoted or featured in the media.

These points are valuable for both PR professionals like ourselves, and company executives looking for media coverage.

Here are the key points:

  • Be prepared: these days, most media outlets are short-staffed, and reporters may run on multiple assignments each day. That means that unlike the old days, they might not have the time to do in-depth research in preparation for an interview and story. So, if you're on the other side of the interview, it's worth it to prepare yourself. That might mean taking some time to research the reporter and what kind of stories he covers, and anticipate what questions he might ask - even ones you would prefer not to answer. Then, prepare your answers - and make sure you're ready to provide some background information on your company.
  • Be professional, but be yourself: It's important to be natural in your interview - building a relationship with a reporter will benefit you down the road. But you must also conduct yourself well. Make sure you've practiced your answers and don't try to fill a silence with awkward, mindless chatter that may lead to giving away something you don't want to. Also, be sure to ask the reporter if he needs any clarification on your answers
  • Follow up: If you promised the reporter you'd send some materials, make sure you do so. You can include a note with them, clarifying any of your comments during the interview and creating another quote that's easy to copy and paste.

People tend to have a negative opinion about journalists, so it's very important to remember that they are people too, and that, just like you, they are trying to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Keeping these points in mind will show respect for any journalists you deal with, and will help them build respect for you as well.

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]

A professional negotiator and mediator asked me to take a look at his LinkedIn profile & make suggestions.

The guy has a terrific CV and resume. Very impressive.

But, does his LinkedIn profile attract or repel potential clients?

There are many LinkedIn experts who will say that they can help you. Maybe they can. I know that some of them will certainly charge you a lot of money.

The Science of Decision Making & The 3 Filters of Choice

It does make sense to know something about the science of choice - what people do when they have to make a decision?

Well, when people have to make a decision, they typically do something the first things very fast, first. Which allows them to form a conclusion quickly, and have a decision made. Without worrying too much about it.

Here is the basic decision process many people would go through to see if you were good at something that they were interested in.

They would scan your summary profile & use the following rules or filters and in this order.

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Filter 1. You aren't good at anything --Leave and find someone else to help. Many people don't have a clear statement in their summary what they are good at & why the reader should believe it.

Here is my solution to that problem.

In the first line of my summary, I write:

Specialties: Strategic Analysis for Franchises and Negotiation, see Endorsements below.

And what does my Skill and Endorsements section look like?

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Ok, you see the LinkedIn community thinks I am good at Franchising, Strategy and Negotiation.

There are a number of ways of getting around the first fillter.

But, if you have a good number of endorsements, then I would use this technique. Because it says to the reader - hey, a lot of people think I am good at some things -the sort of things you might want to buy, my dear reader.

Filter 2. Yes, you are good at something, but what you are good at isn't what I need.

This might very well be true. You don't need to be contacted by people who cannot really use your skills properly.

So, if someone asked me what you did, I might say something like this:

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"Michael solves complex problems in franchising systems. Problems which demand the coordination, cooperation of people who sometimes don't talk, don't like, or actively dislike each other."

Then I might give them a link to this article on Creating the Modern Franchise Owner's Group.

Or I might go on an talk about the general problem of coordination in groups.

Or I might do both.

Now, Joe has more straightforward solution to this filter problem. In his summary, he is able to state with authority that he has 20+ years of franchise development, starting with fixing the sales process at a major QSR. As process still in place.

So, if the reader is interested in franchise sales or development, it is pretty clear that Joe has seen it all.

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Filter 3. Yes, you are good at something that I need, but I don't need it now.

Ok, this is the hardest filter to make it through.

Why? Because customers always buy on their own schedules and not your timetable. So our solution to this problem is get people to sign up for our Tips newsletters, just like the one of the bottom of this page. We intend to stay Top-of-Mind with them until they need to buy from us.

Only profiles which make it through these 3 filters will magically attract clients. People who will call you and ask if you can help them.

And for getting this far, here is final neat tip.

Knowing how people like to jump to the end, I would include something like this in the last section.

Advice for Contacting Michael

-Hey you made it to the bottom of the page. Good for you!

-If you are a franchisor, Joe Caruso and I can help you with your sales process.

-If you are supplier, Joe Caruso and I can help you with establishing a vendor program.

-If you a franchise owner/franchisee, Joe Caruso and I can help you with establishing a franchisee's owners group.

-If you are anyone else, let me know what you think I could help you with.

Any questions?

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]

Social media giant Facebook is constantly updating its algorithm to keep users happy. The latest change is a crackdown on "like-baiting."

Even if you don't recognize the term, you've seen this technique used by a lot of marketers: brands will often post a picture or video that's unrelated to their business or original content, and ask fans to like, share, or comment on it. The idea is to make such posts appear in users' News Feeds, so that their friends see the business page, and hopefully, start following it.

For a social media marketer, this technique sounds like a dream - it's an easy way to get more likes on your page and hopefully drive more people to your website.

At Ripley PR, we encourage strong social media engagement to our clients as a part of their B2B public relations strategies, and there's no doubt that effective social media marketing can drive website traffic and increase your business.

So why is "like-baiting" such a problem?

Often, it's used in a way that Facebook sees as spamming users.

According to the site, "like-baiting" posts are those that explicitly request likes, shares, and comments.

Many times, these posts are frequently-circulated photos, videos, or memes, and end up cluttering users' News Feeds.

Facebook users have complained about the number of unwanted posts that make it harder to see the content from friends and family - and even brands - that they really want to see.

What, then, does the crackdown on asking for likes and shares mean for social media marketers? Well, there's no doubt that it can be used in legitimate ways. Some brands use the technique to ask followers to help them win a contest or award; others use it as a way to track followers and offer a prize or discount in return. There is value in running such a campaign.

However, the crackdown means that most companies will probably have to find more creative ways to encourage this engagement. It doesn't mean that companies are discouraged from social media marketing; to the contrary, Facebook wants brands to continue using its site for that purpose. But companies will have to begin placing more of an emphasis on relevant, original content - and ask questions to encourage engagement, rather than just fishing for likes.

We think that social media marketing is an important part of any brand's marketing and PR strategy, and chances are that finding more creative ways to encourage engagement on Facebook will actually work to your benefit, rather than your detriment.

Wired Flare recently conducted a study of franchises in the greater Toronto area to help us get a better grasp on the existing needs in the franchise industry for social media support.

The findings were rather surprising.

We analyzed 89 franchises in the GTA. These are the questions as part of the analysis process:

1. On what platforms does the franchise have corporate brand pages setup (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, Instagram, other, all or none)?

2. On what platforms does the franchise have local franchisee pages setup (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, Instagram, other, all or none)?

3. If the franchise has franchisee pages, are their pages for all franchisees or only some?

4. Are the brand images (logos, banners, headers, etc.) good quality, reflective of the brand and consistent across all channels?

5. What is the frequency of posting to each setup social network?

6. What is the consistency of posting to each social network?

7. What types of content are being posted to each social network (promotional, product-related, inspirational, informative, etc.)?

8. What is the level of audience engagement on each social channel?

9. How many online reviews have been published for each franchise on each applicable platform?

10. Do Google Plus listings come up in local map results for every location?

After compiling the answers to each of those questions for the franchises in the study, here are our findings:

Only 28% - Strong Corporate Presence, Inconsistent Franchisee Presence

28% of the franchises were found to have a solid corporate presence on social media. They had setup at least two brand pages on social media channels, were posting consistent content and were actively engaging and responding to their audience.

And none of those 28% of franchises had a solid, identifiable plan for their franchisees. Some of the franchisees had set up their own social media pages, some had not. Some were posting a lot, some not at all. Images were often varied, and in some cases customer questions remained unanswered.

54% - Poor Brand Presence, Poor Franchisee Presence

54% of the franchises had social media profiles setup but did not have a solid corporate presence on those channels. Posting was inconsistent, infrequent, and did not elicit response from fans or followers. In many cases there were customer posts that not been responded to. In every case there was also no identifiable plan for franchisees. As with the above findings, some local pages posted a lot, some not at all. Branding and customer service were inconsistent across the board.

18% - Not Found on Social Media

18% of the franchises had no social media profiles that could be found on any social networks. That is hard to believe...but true.

The noticeable statistic that does not appear is one that would represent the franchises with a strong brand presence and strong, consistent franchisee presence. Not one of the franchises we analyzed fit into that category.

Clearly our findings indicate that many franchisors still do not understand the importance of social media. Therefore most franchises do not have a solid social media program in place that benefits all their franchisees.

This is a huge missed opportunities for franchises, and it's one that they can't afford to keep missing.

If you're a franchisor that fits into one of the above categories and is in need of support to implement a social media program that works for you and your franchisees...contact us now. We're here to help.

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]

Social media communication can actually be a great indicator as to how a franchise system supports its franchisees.

Once you've narrowed down your potential franchise choices, take some time to look at their social media and consider the following things.

Is There a Social Media Presence?

First, determine whether the franchise has a social media presence at all. For example, does it have links to Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus on its corporate website? If not, this is likely an indication that the franchisor has not prioritized social communication.

However, don't stop there; look for them on your own. Search Facebook and Twitter to see if there is any franchise presence. If not, this should be a huge flag for you. With 91% of consumers today making purchasing decisions based on online experiences, social media is absolutely necessary for business growth.

Is Social Presence Corporate Only or Local?

The second step, assuming the franchise passed the test in step 1, is to determine the level of presence it has. Are social profiles only representative of the corporate franchise? For example, when doing your searches do you only find one Facebook page and one Twitter profile, both of which represent the corporate franchise?

If this is the case, it may indicate that the franchisor has a very strict policy about local pages and prohibits franchisees to have their own social media presence. Depending on the products and services the franchise offers, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is something you need to know and understand up front.

Is Branding and Customer Service Consistent?

If you do find many local pages, you'll likely encounter one of two scenarios:

1)      All the pages are branded similarly, have some of the same types of content, and are active; or

2)      The pages all look different and have different photos and content; some are updated regularly and some haven't had anything posted for months or longer.

If you find #1 to be true, this likely indicates that there is an overall social media strategy in place. This is great for you as a franchisee because you can feel confident that the corporate team will provide support in getting your social presence off the ground. They may even manage it for you, which can be fantastic if the franchisor also empowers and trains franchisees to be involved if and when they want to be.

If you find situation #2 to be true, which is very often the case, this likely means that when it comes to social media...you're on your own.

Up to this point, the franchisor likely has not provided any support or guidance for franchisee social profiles, which can be good and bad. The upside is that you would have freedom to engage as you choose to do so. The downside is that you'd be on your own for creating and distributing content, managing social platforms, providing customer service and building relationships with your audience. This can be a very time-consuming task.

Is Your Social Media Audience Engaging with the Franchise Online?

Finally, whether the franchise has one social profile or many, it's important to take a look at the types of conversations that are happening. Is the content dull and/or pushy, or are the posts ones that get the audience really excited about the franchise and prompt audience engagement? Are people liking, sharing and retweeting franchise posts?

If you find a lot of engagement, that's a fantastic indication that social media audiences already enjoy following the franchise online. For you that means that if you choose to be a franchisee, you'd have an audience that already knows about the franchise and will likely be excited to have a local profile to engage with on social networks.

Whatever you find when you investigate the franchise's social media presence, it's crucial to open a dialogue with your potential franchisor and ask them what, if any, corporate support is given to a franchisee's social media management. Of course this isn't the only factor in your decision to purchase a franchise, but it should definitely be one of them.

In the business-to-business world, your company's job is to fill a very specific need for your customers. Many B2B companies work with clients all over the country and even all over the world, so before they do business with you, potential customers are going to find out all they can about you.

At Ripley PR, we stress to our B2B clients that having a strong website is very important to growing your business.

These days, people are more likely to look up the information they need about a company, service, or product, online than they are to call a company or arrange an in-person visit.

If your website isn't effective at explaining what you do, or what you sell, then potential customers are likely to turn away and find someone else to fill their need.

We work with many clients on website design as part of their B2B public relations strategy. A good website will go a long way toward helping your business grow.

Take a look at some of the elements of a good website:

  • Strong logos and imagery: Your logo should be eye-catching, but not distracting.

  • Let it blend seamlessly in with the rest of the web design.

  • A few strong images that effectively showcase your products or services are also better than cluttering your site with photos.

  • Make it easy to read

    The world is more fast-paced these days, and technology, web design, and best practices are always changing. People will know immediately if your website is out of date when they visit.If your website is long and wordy, or has too many pages, visitors to your site will either have a difficult time finding the information they need, or they'll give up and move on to another company.  Keep it as concise as possible, and separate sections with clear headlines and bullet points.

  • Keep it updated

    Ensure you are always updating it with fresh content, and don't shy away from a redesign if necessary. The world is more fast-paced these days, and technology, web design, and best practices are always changing. People will know immediately if your website is out of date when they visit.

In this day and age, your website is one of the key tools in selling your business, so make sure it's an accurate - and appealing - representation of your company.

For more on intelligent usability, check out Rackspace's article, too.

Contact Ripley PR to find out how we can help you create a great website that will go far in helping you grow your business.

Why is it that AdWords always gets the best data and reporting?

I know the answer is because advertisers are Google's primary source of revenue, but still.

The rest of us shouldn't be left in the dark when it comes to reporting.

Over 90% of clicks on Google go to organic or local listings and we've lost access to referring keywords and can't see click-to-call data - which is the best measure of ROI short of actual visits.

What Is AdWords Click-To-Call?

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For those unaware, a few years back, Google introduced the "click-to-call" AdWords extension.

With this extension a "call" button was added next to ads that allowed mobile users to call a business with one click.

A "call" costs the same amount as a standard AdWords click. Click-to-call works especially well in the locksmith industry.

Just imagine, if you were to search for a locksmith from a mobile phone, are you more likely to call them up or leisurely sit back and read about their services?

 

AdWords Click-To-Call Reporting

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When you sign up for click-to-call in AdWords you're given detailed reports on your calls. As you can see in this AdWords click-to-call report, you can see that out of 1,839 actions, 10 of those were phone calls.

This is great data that lets you allocate your advertising spend appropriate and calculate ROI.

Why Local Search Is Made More Difficult By Google

It's simple.

Over 90% of searchers click on organic listings but all organic click-to-call data is withheld.

On Google+ Local we have access to: impressions, website clicks, more info clicks and driving direction clicks.

The simple addition of calls would make local search and Google+ Local optimization a no-brainer but until then we'll be left with lots and lots of local businesses wondering what the ROI of their SEO campaigns are.

What are you waiting for Google?

If you need help managing your Google+ Local page or local online presence, contact us for help!

The post Come On Google! Give Us Our Local Click-To-Call Data! appeared first on LocalVox.

 

 

 

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) recently released a 2014 Press Release revealing website customer satisfaction across 200 companies within 33 industries.

Over 25,000 respondents provided insight on their satisfaction as it relates to the website experience for several companies.

The results may surprise you when it comes to social media: this is one area that did not do so well this year:

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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 just had a terrific question posed to me.  Had to dash off this quick reply.

You have to know the background.

A professional colleague had asked for some advice on her website.  Made some suggestions. She made the changes.  (The main suggestion was to incorporate the website with the blog in a more seamless manner.)  She was super excited.

But, she also lamented:

I got one new (largish) client soon after it [new website/blog] went up - seemed like a good omen.

I'm also learning how to use Google Analytics.

One thing I've noticed - by the time someone contacts me through the site, they have already decided to work with me. 

Meeting is almost a formality. 

So that makes me think that the site is doing a good job, but it is also frustrating that I can't reach more people I could help." 

So, for you, and many professionals, the website is attracting only visitors who have already qualified themselves as serious about being your clients.

Holy Cow!  This is a major revelation to Joe and I.

We are always preaching that most websites for professionals have no or little traffic & that they have to do something to increase their pageviews.

But, we are wrong.  We have got it backwards.

 

Here is the second point.

Do you know the favorite landing page for most mediation, legal, accounting and other professional websites is?

It is the "About Us" page.

Naturally, people want to know about you - if they are going to do business with you.

If you have only a few but highly qualified visitors looking at your website, then you need to use that strategic fact.

And, you want to solve this problem: "but it is also frustrating that I can't reach more people I could help."

You just need to find similar people to the qualified visitors - who just became your clients.

Well, and just how do you do that?

 

You actually have the answer.

You take the intake form -you just filled out- when you met your new clients.

You have just described their problem & your solution.

So now, take 20 or 30 minutes, and re-write it as a more general story.

--(Like I took this piece of information from my colleague and wrote it up as a general piece of advice.)

A story you can share on LinkedIn with people that could do business with you.

A story that will get you more of the attention that you deserve.

And, then share that story, circulate it through LinkedIn, and reach more people you could help.

At $30/month, what can you lose?

Among many other things it can do, social media is a powerful tool for brand communication and marketing.

One would think this might go without saying, but many businesses still aren't quite sure how it fits into their traditional marketing plan.

First, it's important to understand that brand isn't what you say it is...it's what your audience says it is. You can only shape their definitions by the way that you communicate with them, and social media can be a huge part of that process.

Second, a key element to understand is that brand communication and marketing through social media is most effective when it is focused on the audience first and foremost.

Social media provides a way of communicating to your audience at a deeper level what your company truly is and everything it stands for: mission, values, products, passions, community involvement, character, the people behind the company, and more.

It's a way of telling your story so that it resonates with your audience and reveals the deeper side of why your company is here and why it provides the products or services that it does.

It's about being real.

Social media is an extension of everything else you do to shape your brand - website, print collateral, signage, business cards.

All of that works together to shape how your audience sees you and to tell your story,  so as you craft your brand communication plan, it is important to develop an overall strategy (and budget) that involves all the pieces working together.

Conclusion:  Social media also allows your organization to gain exposure to a large audience (thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands) at a very low cast. Five years ago it would have cost you tens of thousands of dollars to reach those kinds of numbers .

With social media you have the opportunity to spread the word about your company to anyone and everyone online, and when your communication plan is audience-focused, over time they start doing your marketing for you. One person comments on your post, their friends see it, they like your page, they comment, their friends see it, they like your page, they comment, their friends see it...and over time they start buying.

That same type of exponential audience-led brand exposure doesn't happen with billboards or magazine ads. That doesn't necessarily mean you don't need billboards or magazines, but it does mean you need social media as part of your overall plan.

An ad provides one message. It offers one solution to solve one problem.

The messages you can send out on social media are endless. As your company grows, so can its social media change and adapt with it. It's thousands of messages, each one giving just a bit more of a glimpse into what you are, what you do, and why you're the best at it.

Social media is so powerful because it allows you to build relationships and foster loyalty and trust with your audience. You can't buy those relationships - you have to develop them over time by communicating in an audience-focused way.

And the best part of it all is that when you use social media effectively as part of your marketing process, the value you bring to your audience goes far beyond the products and services you can provide for them.

The Massive Open Online Courses can teach you some important things about your own training videos for your franchisees.

While, I've seen many outstanding videos offered on the MOOCs there are still a distressingly high percentage of them that do not even meet the minimum standards of Public Access TV.

Your franchise training videos likely have one or more of the same problems.

If your franchise training videos has one or more of the following production quality issues, you will have a low viewer completion rates.

  1. Bad Sound Quality: Sound is the Achilles' heel of most educational videos. Most people will put up with poor video but if you cannot hear or understand what is being said there is no use in watching any further. These problems are usually caused by poor microphone placement, low recording levels, background noise and talent who do not speak well on camera.

  2. Poor Lighting: Even bad cameras look good when there is plenty of light yet many videos look as if they were videotaped in a closet. If a student is going to stare at your video for 15 to 60 minutes at least make the images visible.

  3. Poor Graphics: Just like unintelligible sound, unreadable graphics are useless. If the viewer cannot read or follow the graphic why include it? This is more than a PowerPoint slide with small text, this includes flow charts that are so dense and detailed they cannot be followed or photographs of such poor quality it is hard to tell what they are.

  4. All Text Presentations: If the only thing the presenter is doing is reading the text off of one PowerPoint slide after another why not just send the student the PowerPoint slides?

  5. Talking Heads: Or even worse, talking shadows on a distant stage. Videotaping lectures is probably the quickest and easiest way to record educational content but it does not have to be the most boring way to present educational content. (I've written several blogs on videotaping lectures, including how I think the TED Lectures get it right.)

  6. Long Videos: One of the best features of online videos is that the presenter is not required to lecture for 50 minutes as they are often required to in a scheduled class. They can make the video segment as long, or as short as it needs to be. Yet many online classes are 50 or 60 minutes because that is the length of a traditional classroom lecture. If students fall asleep in a classroom during a long lecture they will fall asleep faster during a long video lecture.

  7. Not Using the Medium: Why, in this new world of television production where an inexpensive HD video camera can fit in the palm of your hand, do so many of the online video classes take place behind a lectern? Are cameras not allowed in the lab or out in the field? Is it impossible to interview an expert or illustrate a concept with animation? Television is personal and mobile. Take advantage of its strengths.

There are ways to improve production quality and the quality of your programs that will improve the effectiveness of your overall online course.

Are you involved in producing video for training?

What are your biggest production quality challenges?

What obstacles do you face in producing your videos? Let me know in the discussion section below.

If you are involved in producing educational or training video and would like some feedback on your production quality then contact us for a video consultation.

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]

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