Social media is used to project an image of ourselves and, when it comes to franchising, the brand we are part of. The challenges for each participant are many.
The brand is normally centrally led and the messages that define its values centrally crafted. However, today everyone that uses social media represents both themselves and the brand they represent.
This creates multiple challenges of effective representation for the brand and its people. Not everyone is a skilled communicator, not all are tactful, and many are simply unaware of the visibility and influence of their own posts.
Warren Buffett once said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and only five minutes to destroy it. If you think about it, you’ll do things differently”.
The revolution of social media is that it has made us all publishers. For the first time in history, every individual can publish their ideas, thoughts, photos and videos for the world to see. This is a new power that we are all having to learn and come to terms with.
For brands this is a challenge as its own people and its clients have the potential to compliment or misrepresent, promote or damage the brand.
Historically the damage was limited through departmental checks. This is very hard to do now everyone in the business is a publisher.
So what are the options to build and protect brands in the era of every employee, franchisee and client being a self-publisher?
Lead and support
www.SocialHANDLER.online is an online system that enables brand managers to craft high quality content and easily distribute it to all participating franchisees as suggested content. The participants can use this content to quickly and effectively share on-brand social media content. For content publishing it reduces time required, increases confidence and frees everyone from having to come up with new narratives. In this way the brand can support its people with content as a service.
All brand leaders should make sure that everyone in the organisation is educated when it comes to using social media. This will serve to protect both the brand and its participants. It’s critical that everyone today understands the visibility, accessibility and accountability that every published post brings.
Brands leaders should provide permission management guidelines for all employees and franchisees. Keep what you say private and make sure what is public is not offensive, sexist or racist. If you wouldn’t say or show it to you mum, don’t say it or show it on social media.
The door is always open
It’s important that brand leaders understand that everybody’s door, including their own, is always open. Today the permission gateways of contact between levels and hierarchy in organisations are quickly being removed. Clients and colleagues within brands increasingly expect direct contact with anyone they choose at a convenient time for them. For this reason, training is required for conversation management and support.
Gagging and apathy removes trust
For some brand leaders social media gagging orders are a temptation. For others apathy rules and they just don’t want to be bothered with it. However, no voice means no interest and gives the appearance of something to hide. This can create concern and mistrust which can be detrimental to new buyer enquiry flow.
Ratings and why they are important
Ratings and the engagement it produces is important. This is because we are all increasingly using the observations of strangers in the early decision making process. It’s therefore important for each brand to have a clear ratings engagement strategy that is clear to everyone that operates in the brand and to its customers. This will help to validate brand promises and build inbound enquires.
It’s all about me
Today it's all about me. I control my own publishing. I connect to who and what interests me. I can even control the adverts I see or don’t see. This means that power in the early stages of the decision-making process is moving into the control of each individual. The brand has to increasingly make itself relevant to each individual in order to win the right to be seen. We are therefore moving into the era of every person being a marketplace.
New opportunities and new challenges
The new opportunity is that everyone is now living their lives from the rooftops. This makes what we want, when we want it, what we value and what we will pay more visible than ever before.
The challenge for brand leads is learning how to reach each ‘one’ in an effective, managed, affordable and scalable way.
The good news is that the information and the tools are out there. The challenge is that it has to be learned and the learning required does not stop or slow down.
Many voices count
Anyone one can access many voices to form a single opinion about a brand. Every social media post and client rating is important as they increasingly influence buyers in the early on ongoing client building and retention process. It’s therefore critical to plan an effective information access architecture that simplifies this for the brand’s clients.
Right now every brand leader needs to be actively:
- Agreeing that everyone has a say when it comes to the brand and what it means
- Identifying how to support effective on-brand content publishing at every level
- Providing education and support for social media users at every level
- Identifying the changes that are here and the adjustments required
- Implement strategies and policies for the benefit of all
- Lead from the rooftops and by example
The future is now and now is the time for action!