In "Focusing Your Message from National to Local, Part 1," we determined focused messaging for both corporate and franchise outlets across a variety of interactive marketing solutions. We did this by coming up with a comprehensive strategic plan for the brand as a whole, and then developed a process and procedure that could be further refined for virtually any media type.
Today, we'll explore how to parse out responsibilities for social media and show how to set up a measurement dashboard for comparing local and national results.
Much has been written about the benefits of social media and how the enormous user base can be harnessed to help consumers make informed decisions online. Like any marketing vehicle, it's important to understand the marketing and communications attributes of the given media vehicle.
With social, many unique attributes within each platform enable companies to deliver interesting and targeted messaging to prospects and customers. There are many ways to accomplish this, but below we'll just dive into the reactive approach (because, as most businesses engaging in social media have found out, half of social media is assuming responsibility when consumers come to you for answers).
First Step: Look, Listen, and Learn
Before you can engage in the conversation that social provides, you need to know "what" is being said.
The best way to start is by monitoring what is being said about your brand and your product/service categories. This will enable you to formulate a plan and understand the resources necessary to successfully monitor what's being said. That includes responding to consumer requests for information, providing clarification and, even in some cases, rectifying consumer complaints.
A few of the monitoring packages that we have trialed include:
These monitoring packages enable marketers to determine the gender, age, and location of folks commenting/blogging about a specific brand or topic. They also capture "what" they're saying, including whether a post contains positive/negative sentiment.
Finally, one core benefit is the ability to determine which sites and types of sites consumers are using (including blogs, social networks, microblogs, ratings and reviews, etc.).
Next Step: Take Action
So now that you've deployed monitoring, the next step is to determine which items are the responsibilities of the corporate (brand) marketing department and which items should be handled by the franchise (local sales) outlets. It sounds easy, but the devil is in the details.
Let's start with the most logical: any items that could positively or adversely affect brand awareness and preference should be handled by the corporate marketing department, as well as the response. Also, because many social comments come through without a clear determination of the location of the commenter, corporate should act as a clearinghouse for these inquiries/opportunities/issues and parse them out to the appropriate franchise outlet to handle.
On the flip side, if an inquiry/opportunity/issue is directed at a specific sales outlet (e.g., "Can someone recommend Whirligigs in Danbury, CT?") this becomes the responsibility of the franchise to contact the user and offer assistance.
User Generated Content -- Ratings and Reviews
With the emergence of user-generated content -- and, more specifically, ratings and reviews -- the line of responsibility has become blurred. In many cases, consumers are leaving comments for a specific franchise on a nationally scoped listing (which only adds to consumer confusion).
In this example, a national advertisement for ABC Whirligigs in a directory such as YellowPages.com may contain a negative review from a consumer who had an issue with an individual franchise in one market. At this point, corporate should contact that local franchise and have them work directly with the consumer on the issue published.
At the same time, corporate should comment on the review and state that they have contacted that franchise to ensure that the consumer's issues are addressed. A response such as the following would be beneficial:
Thank you for your comment, ABC Whirligigs is committed to total customer satisfaction. We have asked our local franchise, Whirligigs of Danbury to contact you to resolve your comment. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org should your issue not be resolved to your expectation. Thank you for your patronage.
Once resolved, the franchise can ask the consumer to update the comment to reflect that the issue in question was resolved -- further confirming that the business is willing to take appropriate steps to satisfy its consumers.
Lead Generation Potential
On the lead generation side, monitoring blog and social site posts for category keywords can uncover consumers looking to solve specific problems that your product and services address. For instance, if we use the example of a water filtration manufacturer, we would monitor keywords and phrases that connote poor tasting or water specific problems and then engage in the conversation to introduce how our product or service solved the consumer's problem.
The key here is to be upfront and identify that you're selling the product/service and not trying to hide that fact. In these lead generation cases, the franchises are usually best suited to answer these types of questions. However, as with all social media, corporate can act as the conduit to route location queries to the appropriate franchise.
By working together, corporate and franchise sales organizations can create a comprehensive and coordinated plan of engagement with customers to help build brand perception and increase sales.