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Harnessing the Power of Social Media for Dealer/Franchise Networks
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Harnessing the Power of Social Media for Dealer/Franchise Networks


Social media for dealers/franchises is more than setting up a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn account for every location. These are the tools, the applications. As head office, you need to take the lead …

Social media for dealers/franchises is more than setting up a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn account for every location. These are the tools, the applications. As head office, you need to take the lead on developing your communications and social media strategy. If you don't, someone else will.

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  • 1. Harnessing the Powerof Social Media withina Dealer / FranchiseNetwork
  • 2. 1Harnessing the Power of Social Mediawithin a Dealer / Franchise NetworkDoes this sound familiar?Your customers’ online activity is growing at what seems like the speed of light. They’re researching,reading reviews, and finding the information and recommendations they need before ever heading intoa retail location.Your corporate social media presence is taking shape and a number of motivated dealers/franchisees areactively cultivating their own following.But, if you’re like most dealer/franchise or network brands, chances are you’re still struggling to wrapyour arms around the question of social media when it comes to corporate versus local involvement.The trouble is that tweets, posts, comments, and reviews are cropping up at an ever-increasing pace (andthere may be no one currently managing the messages, channels, or frequency of these conversations).The result?An inconsistent brand experience for customers – a common issue for dealer/franchise networks. And thisinconsistency manifests itself in many forms including:• Regulatory compliance issues because of unfiltered real-time conversations• Damaging or inflammatory content posted that affects brand equity without any planned response• Customer service requests which are not being followed up on• Disgruntled customer or employee complaints that are being shared across networks• Confidential company information being posted by employeesHow can you manage the chaosand deliver your brand acrossall customer touch points?Step 1 – Define your social media presence.Step 2 – Decide who owns content generation and community management.Step 3 – Develop your social media program.THE ANSWERTHE QUESTIONTHE ANSWERTHE QUESTION
  • 3. 2Social media offers an ideal way to build relationships in a dealer/franchise system both corporately andlocally. The challenge is deciding on how you structure your social media presence. This can take threebasic forms: corporate only, local only, or shared corporate and local.Option 1. Corporate Only: A single corporate social presence.CORPORATIONCORPORATIONNETWORK CUSTOMERNETWORK CUSTOMERCUSTOMER• Example: Knowledge First Financial, a newplayer in social media, is a financial servicesorganization focusing on educational savingsprograms targeting parents. Because ofregulatory compliance requirements theyare starting with a corporate Facebook pageonly, without any supporting local pages.Step 1 – Define Your Social Media PresenceMarketing in a dealer/franchise network is unique. The corporation is the brand steward – thebrand is given life locally through the dealer/franchise locations. Your customers build an affinity witha corporate brand, while developing the relationship and trust with your organization as a whole throughthe dealer/franchisee.Option 2. Local Only: No corporate social outreach presence.All communications done through local social networks.• Example: Jack Astor’s, a restaurantfranchise with locations acrossCanada, has Facebook presencefor each of its locations with nocorporate page. CORPORNETWORK CUSTOMER
  • 4. 3TIPFor companies just getting into social media, choose the channel most popularwith your customers and focus on doing it right, not doing it everywhere.• Example: Harley-Davidson Canadahas both a corporate Facebookpresence as well as individualretailer pages.Option 3. Shared Corporate & Local: Corporate social presence complementedby individual dealer/franchisee presence.JAN Kelley’s Recommended Approach: SharedConsistent with our views on marketing within dealer/franchise networks, we believe the ideal socialpresence for dealer/franchise network brands is one that is shared. The corporate brand communicatesdirectly with customers and also to and through its dealer/franchise social networks establishing brandconsistency and messaging while enabling local engagement. Many organizations are at different phasesof their social media adoption and will start with a corporate presence and move toward a shared modelover time as they work out the kinks.CORPORATIONCORPORATIONNETWORK CUSTOMERNETWORK CUSTOMERCUSTOMER
  • 5. 4Step 2 – Decide Ownership of Content Generation and Community ManagementWithin each of these overall basic structures, the way communications and customer engagement ismanaged can also differ. It is important to determine who will develop content, make the posts, respondto feedback and provide reporting. For simplicity, we’ve narrowed it down to three main communicationsmanagement models: centralized, dispersed, and collaborative. 1. Centralized – Corporate head office has full control over communications through their socialchannels. No posts made directly by dealers/franchisees. Dealers/franchisees can submit contentto Corporate for posting. 2. Dispersed – Dealers/franchisees manage all communications with no direct corporate control.Corporate can influence and support dealers/franchisees by providing approved content, training,policies, etc. 3. Collaborative – Both the corporation and the network manage communications together.The corporation focuses on overall brand messaging while dealers/franchisees deliver local content.The communications management model you select, works in conjunction with the social media presenceyou decide upon, and each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the best fit betweensocial media presence and the communications management model needs to be determined throughdiscussion and alignment between Corporate and the local network.CentralizedOWNERSHIP&MANAGEMENTCORPORATE ONLY LOCAL ONLYPRESENCESHAREDDispersedCollaborativeStrong brand consistency,minimal local content.Highest level of corporatecontrol.Strong brand consistency,limited unique local contentunless input received fromdealer/franchisees. Lacksopportunity for corporatebrand messaging.Strong local content, limitedbrand consistency.Strong brand consistencyand local content. Lackscorporate brand messaging.Strong brand consistency,limited unique local contentunless input received fromdealers/franchisees.Strong brand consistencyand local content. Strongrelationship of trust betweenCorporate and network.Strong local content, potentialfor disconnect betweencorporate and local messaging(“every man for himself”).
  • 6. 5JAN Kelley’s Recommended Approach: CollaborativeBrand stewards at the corporate level must engage the dealer/franchise channel to bring the brand to life.So, not only is a shared presence most closely related to the ideal dealer/franchise network framework,so is the collaborative management model for content development and deployment.The corporation has the responsibility to support the dealer/franchisees with the tools they need toeffectively communicate the overall company brand message to their customers through local channels.Local content and customer engagement is paramount and creates the closeness and trust customerslook for from their neighbourhood dealer/franchise location. Corporate can also then communicatedirectly with customers at a broader strategic level and utilize the social channels for customer service,brand communications, public relations or other corporate objectives which then supports and augmentslocal messaging. As a result, this structure can provide an overarching, clearly identified brand presencein the market, while allowing for strong customized local content and personalized customer interaction.Step 3 – Getting Started – Developing Your Social Media ProgramYou’ve chosen your presence and management models. You can now focus on developing your socialmedia program. Corporate must lead the charge to provide the guidance and support necessary forsuccessful customer engagement through social media marketing.To build your social media plan, consider the following:1) developing your communications strategy,2) creating the processes for enabling brand engagement, and3) supporting the effort with systems and tools to encourage collaboration and support.CommunicationsStrategyOVERVIEWELEMENT CONSIDERATIONSProcessesDevelop and share the overallcommunications strategy andimplementation guidelines forthe networkDesign the network managementstructure to be used at thecorporate and local level• Set the tone and personality for the brand• Create the overall brand promise• Provide brand and content guidelines (from logo use totone and content development)• Determine the core social channels and define the set-uprequirements (profile pictures, “about us” content, etc.)• Develop the editorial calendar annually with ongoingupdates shared with all stakeholders• Determine the internal structure for social media communitymanagement (e.g. separate department, part of Marketing,Sales, IT or Public Relations)• Select the social media management system to support thenetwork (e.g. HootSuite [Pro or Enterprise],TweetDeck,SocialWare, etc.)• Define the roles and responsibilities of the corporation versusthe dealer/franchisee in managing the social networkThe table below outlines key steps and critical considerations:
  • 7. 6OVERVIEWELEMENT CONSIDERATIONSProcesses(continued)Systems & ToolsCreate the social media policies foruse across the entire organizationDevelop the communicationsstructure to ensure all stakeholdersare kept in the loop on content,issues, and campaignsImplement a “listening” andreporting structureProvide training and supportprograms for social media marketing• Social media management and guidelines within thedealer/franchise contract• Employee and customer posting guidelines• Content management guidelines (post frequency, responsefrequency, etc.)• Crisis management• Use existing dealer/franchisee communications channelsalready in place• Develop a central repository of content and updates thatcan be easily accessed by local community managers(e.g. Sharepoint, marketing resource centres)• Set up dealer/franchisee advisory committees to supportcontent development and campaign implementation• Develop and publish objectives and success measures forsocial outreach• Provide reporting templates for franchisees to provideengagement statistics• Set up monitoring protocols and train employees on useof monitoring tools (e.g. Meltwater Buzz, Radian 6,Facebook Insights, etc.)• Optimize how the corporate and local retail socialmedia presence will complement each other from botha relationship and content strategy perspective• Encourage dealers/franchisees who currently do not havea social media presence to understand how to develop alocal strategy and engage customers online• Train selected dealer/franchisee personnel on effective useof social media applications and the adopted social mediamanagement systemProviding the dealer/franchise network with the strategies, processes, and support tools for managingsocial networks locally ensures that a consistent brand experience can be provided to the customer.Setting the expectations upfront also ensures greater trust is established between the corporation anddealers/franchisees as all parties are clear on their roles and responsibilities within the overall companysocial network.Regardless of which model you choose, make sure you have the time andresources to successfully implement a program. This includes the right: • Skillset (trained personnel) • Toolset (policies, guidelines, applications) • Mindset (recognition of the value of social media)TIP
  • 8. 7How can we help?Social media is a communications channel that lets businesses directly interact with their customers andother stakeholders. JAN Kelley Marketing can help you work through all the considerations necessaryto develop a social media solution that fits with your organization’s unique dynamics. Based on a longhistory of working with dealer and franchise networks, we can assist in developing your social media:• Administrative and management structure including selection of a social media management system• Communications and content strategy aligning both corporate and local requirements• Reporting structure including competitive analysis and social “listening”• Policies and guidelines• Training and franchisee support• Community management programs• Promotional campaignsWe work directly with both corporate and dealers/franchisees to ensure the best solution is implementedfor your organization.Looking to get more social? Contact us at 1.800.461.7304 to get started.