What’s the deal with this “Social, Local, Mobile” thing? And what should franchises do about it?
In 2014, the internet marketing community is all abuzz with the phrase “Social, Local, Mobile” There isn’t a week that goes by that you don’t hear someone espousing the merits of these three words. As with all buzzwords, there’s likely more glitz than substance, but let’s do our best to try and make sense of what’s going on here on three levels:
- What’s the big deal?
- What are mobile, local, and social?
- And what, if anything, should franchises do?
1. What’s the big deal? – The internet is an incredibly fragmented medium. At any given time, there are innumerable different things occurring on the web. There is absolutely no way to know even close to everything that’s happening and anyone who tells you they know how the internet works is lying to you.
That being said, there are themes that emerge as the cutting edge of the way that people are behaving on the web. If you remember back to the 1990s, you may remember the age of AOL chat rooms. While not everyone was using an AOL chat room, it was an incredibly popular way for people to describe and discuss how the internet was being used.
“Social, Local, Mobile” is this era’s AOL Chatroom. As far as describing the cutting edge, this is the best we can do right now.
2. What are social, local, and mobile?
A. Social – Well before the internet showed up, researches proved that the most powerful form of marketing is word of mouth. As a consumer of anything, you’re way more likely to listen to your friend than any sort of advertising that exists. Even publications like Consumer Reports struggle to compete with word of mouth.
How many times have you had a conversation like this:
You: My relatives are coming to town. Have any recommendations for what we should do?
Friend: Last time my cousins were here, we checked out the market downtown. Everyone loved it.
You: Really? I didn’t think that would be that great.
Friend: Oh no. It’s fantastic. Plus, that new restaurant just opened down there, and people are raving about it.
And lo and behold, you’re taking your relatives down to the market.
Well, the same principles hold on the internet. The Facebook, Twitters, and other social networking sites offer the opportunity for people in your network (and maybe Justin Bieber) to affect your decision making and behavior.
B. Local – People want personalization. Everyone in the world wants to know about what’s going on in their lives. They want information that pertains to their personal lives. The cutting edge of marketing is all about positioning different offers as relevant in each individual market in the U.S. Think about the concept of Yelp.
Through one search, I was able to learn very intimate details about an institution that is down the street. What time this Laundromat closes down the street from me is absolutely vital to my life!
C. Mobile – The number of smartphones in the U.S. is absolutely exploding (and even more internationally.)
So with every passing day, the percentage of internet usage done via a phone rather than a desktop or laptop gets higher and higher. Therefore, if you’re not thinking about your franchise on a phone, then you’re falling farther and farther behind every day.
3. What, if anything, should franchises do about it?
The short answer is, it depends. Let’s be honest, it’s unlikely that many franchise lead generators are currently doing what they can to take advantage of these trends. And we can’t blame you. It takes a lot of resources to try new initiatives, and if you’re seeing success with your current strategy, then it’s tough to imagine that this post is enough to convince you to change.
But for those franchises that are looking to be one step ahead of everyone else, then here are some things to think about:
Mobile – What does your website look like on a phone? What do your emails look like? Your website experience needs to be optimized for people on the go. Your potential franchisees’ attention span gets shorter and shorter the more they use phones. Browse a few websites on your phone, you'll know what we mean very quickly.
Local – What makes franchisees in Texas different from those in Montana? If I’m looking to open one of your franchises, then information like that can get me well on the way toward opening a location. What about learning about locations that may already be open near your potential franchisees? Which of these pieces of copy do you think does a better job of getting people to act?
“Talk to a franchise consultant who can answer all your questions”
“Talk to Brad Jones, a current franchisee near you in Phoenix, AZ. Brad can answer everything you need to know about the Phoenix market.”
Social – Table stakes, your franchise definitely needs to have a Facebook page and Twitter account that you update regularly. But beyond that, how can you engage with potential franchisees to get them interested in opening a location. What about doing something like networking current franchisees with potential franchisees, so they can talk about opening a location? I guarantee you that word of mouth will be more powerful than ads.
Other than that, be creative. Social networks are free! Try something new, and see.
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