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Social Media 101

An expert’s social media predictions for the rest of 2010


Last November, social media experts around the globe predicted what 2010 would look like for tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Foursquare. Now that we’re a quarter into the new year, I thought it would be productive to take a look at how social media is affecting the franchise industry now, and what we can expect to see for the rest of the year.

Foursquare, but not seven years ago

If you have retail locations and you aren’t at least tuned into what 1-year-old Foursquare can do for your business and same-store sales, go right now and Google it. Right now. Go. We’ll wait.
Retailers are going to figure out that consumers are checking into their locations and giving them all of their information. So if I check in at, say, my local Mexican chain restaurant, they now know that I am there every Friday and that I always stay away from the heavy carbs. They also know that I live around the corner, that I’m female, and that I tend to bring at least three friends with me.

So let’s say they participate in Foursquare, as well. Now they can send me a message inviting me to bring in friends and for every three that check in, I get $10 off my bill.

Already there are some franchises using Foursquare to build sales by engaging customers one-on-one: Tasti D-Lite, Fresh 2 Order, and Computer Explorers. Check them out, and while you’re online notice a posting on Mashable about mega-coffee retailer Starbucks using the platform to test out an experimental customer-rewards program.

Policies for non-Pollyannas

Soon every franchisor will embrace social media … and franchisees will embrace it at some level. Some may only have policies in place. Some may ask their franchisees to create their own networks and determine how to move the company forward, from a social media perspective. And others will use the tools as part of their larger communication, marketing, customer service, human resources and sales strategies.

Dietrich predicts an epitaph: ‘Here lie Twitter and e-mail; loved by some, cursed by others.’

I’ve compiled a lot of social media policies from different industries that you can use. Visit our Delicious page at www.delicious.com/armentdietrich/policy and steal away.

E-mail dies an untimely death

E-mail will begin to be used less and less for business. You’ll see tools such as Google Wave used for collaboration, Yammer used for internal franchisee social networks, and the social tools for quick answers in real-time vs. waiting for the response time of e-mail.

A shift toward mobile payments

Everyone (not just certain Starbucks locations, Flixster, and Amazon) will begin to accept mobile payments. You’ll have phone applications that allow customers to create an account, input their credit card number, and every time they visit your location, they just enter their PIN number and pay for the purchase on the spot. No more cash. No more checks. No more credit/debit cards.

Ineffectual social media ‘experts’ will be populating soup kitchens

The social media “experts” who don’t practice what they preach and pry on business leaders to get rich quick will be found out and the cream will rise to the top. Those who are at the forefront of social media will change and a new crop of thought-leaders will move to the top. Expertise, thought leadership, and credibility will change constantly.

You want to earn money doing this?

How do I make money? The “return-on-investment” of social media question will continue to be defined as the tools age and agencies and franchises, alike, figure out how to track efforts directly back to increased sales.

Dearly beloved Twitter

Twitter will die because they won’t figure out how to monetize the brand and all of the capital they have sitting in the bank, waiting to be spent, will have to go back to the investors.

But the big prediction for the rest of this year is that the entire franchise industry will begin to understand that social media is a shift in how we communicate. It means what faxes, overnight shipping, e-mail, and free long distance calls have meant in the past 15-20 years…we’re getting more efficient at business and life through technology. It’s not scary. It’s a shift in how we communicate with our customers, employees, and stakeholders. It’s a shift in how we target our prospects. With more and more case studies from your peers to show how well it works, I predict every one of you will have a presence, in some form, by the end of this year!

Gini Dietrich is chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich Public Relations in Chicago. Gini can be reached at gdietrich@armentdietrich.com or 312-787-7249.

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