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Live from #IFA: A checklist for franchises getting started with social media

3 min read

Social Media

Franchisers that aren’t using social media as part of their business strategy need to change their perspective, Ken Colburn, president of Data Doctors Franchise Systems, told attendees of the “Beyond Facebook: Reaching Your Unique Audience Where They Live Online” Tuesday at the IFA 2011 Annual Convention.

The convention’s second standing-room-only session on social media showed that franchisers are interested in learning, but many are still slow to come on board. “I’ve talked to you about this for four years now, and this is still something you’re pushing this over into the corner,” Colburn said.

The key to demystifying social media is to view it as a communications tool just like the other communications tools everyone is already comfortable using, such as e-mail and telephones, explained Colburn and his fellow panelists BJ Emerson, vice president of technology for Tasti D-Lite, and Jon Carlston, vice president of social development for Process Peak.

Getting started on social media, establishing a strategy and doing it well takes work — it doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without people and money, said Colburn. Many franchisers are frozen because they don’t have a place in the budget for social media and don’t have the people devoted to it.

Other franchisers make the mistake of assuming that social media is a simple marketing function. They just take their marketing materials and plug them into social media platforms. When companies do that, explained Colburn, they end up looking like the religious zealot who’s standing on the corner shouting at everyone. He may have a good message, but the way he’s delivering it is all wrong and it’s making people run away.

It’s also a mistake to wait for social media efforts to come from the top of the company, said Colburn, because often “the people who make the decisions don’t know what’s going on and the people who know what’s going on don’t make the decisions.”

Companies need to “empower the people who have the skills you need” to get social media right, said Emerson. That includes franchisees and IT staff members. You’re going to need some “geeks” to do this well.
Check out more IFA 2011 Annual Convention coverage by Brooke Howell:

Image credit: BanksPhotos, via iStock Photo