Franchising, Social Media, and the Changing Online Marketing Landscape

The worldwide use of social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and many others has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, affecting the business world in radical, unforeseen ways. These online media phenomena are increasingly used by brand owners, their customers and their employees alike as what is now the topmost marketing tool. This article details some of the challenging issues and implications that have gone along with the use of such sites and the particular impact of such issues on global franchising.
We at FGS hope to provide some practical guidance on how social media usage should be managed and controlled in international franchise arrangements. Because of the relative infancy of most social media and their recent adoption by franchise systems, many of these issues have only recently been identified, and the bulk are still searching for a final resolution.
Social media is dramatically changing the fundamental forces of that economy: who pays attention to what, who influences such decisions, how that is tracked and measured, the speed of response, and how it’s monetized. Just as the average prospective customer will check the online reviews for a particular business, many potential franchisees these days are highly web-savvy, and will research a particular business on the web to get a sense of its franchisable status, by its social media presence.
The opportunities in this arena are enormous for franchisors. For a good number of consumers, online communication is now more likely through social media than through email. The commercial potential of this trend has long been surmised, and legitimate companies must take advantage of these opportunities.
The incredible rise of online networking has been driven by younger age groups, but social media are no longer the domain of this demographic only. Consumers from a broad range of demographics are now regular users of social media, although preferred sites will show some variation in their audience.
Social media represent a relatively inexpensive method of (franchise) marketing. However, not all campaigns achieve desired success, and many marketers are still struggling with these relatively new formats. Companies will be better served by listening to customer contributions on such sites as Google Places pages (the #1 source for business reviews online), Yelp, and other user review/ratings sites, rather than using social media as another channel to dictate established brand values. Google now counts the social media conversation regarding your company as the highest indicator of your worth as a business.

Classical Franchising Facts and the New Online “Marketology”

Franchising traces its roots back to ancient China. It is a system for expanding a business and distributing goods and services. It is a marketing method, which has been called by many business experts, the greatest marketing strategy ever created. It is a program that creates amazing opportunities for business ownership, brand awareness and success, and personal wealth.

In the United States, only 8% of retail businesses are franchised. Amazingly enough, these same 8% of franchised businesses do over 40% of the retail sales in the United States. Franchising has the ability to capture much more of the market share. The increased market share is due to three main attributes comprising a franchise:

1.A brand name. Even a newer brand name usually has an advantage over an unaffiliated business.
2.A successful business system. The proven system allows franchisees to follow a successful plan with a high success rate. The franchisee can also enjoy cost savings as a result of the buying power of the franchise.
3.A support system. The franchise will have the expertise of its successful franchisees and franchisor to help them succeed. They are not in business alone.

The Gallup Organization conducted a poll on franchisees’ ownership experience and attitudes. Here are some results:

More than 90% said that their expectations were met, or mostly met.
More than 90% said they considered their franchise to be successful.
More than 65% said that they would have not been as successful if they had tried to open the same business on their own.

Here are some eye-opening social media networking facts, gathered by EPM Communications Inc. (May 2010):

More than 140 million Americans log on to a social media site every month and that number continues to grow.
70% of adults have Facebook profiles.
One-third of social media users are 45 and older.
The majority of travelers visit social network sites to plan and share details of their trips.
Half of those who friend restaurants on social media want to be alerted to deals or receive coupons.

Imagine the number of those folks who are savvy entrepreneurs or business owners (or prospective business owners) who may “stumble upon” your franchise marketing material or companys social media conversation. It certainly spins the wheels of possibility, doesnt it?

Let FGS experienced team of advisors and marketing professionals guide the way toward your franchising success and high-level brand recognition. Call 480-223-1500 for a free consultation today!