All politics is local. To what degree is that also true for quick-service brand marketing?
Writing in her Talk of the Town column in QSRMagazine.com (QSRM), Nicole Duncan sees location-specific marketing as the new wave of social media.
Duncan's post, titled "Brands localize their social media presence to foster a more authentic consumer interaction," provides a number of examples of quick-service brands who are targeting consumers in individual markets across the U.S.
Given the strong presence Sintel Systems has in the retail, restaurant and service industries' point of sale (POS) marketplace, we share these service sector growth trends with our customers and franchise hopefuls looking for key insights and opportunities in order to help them make the best decisions from the very beginning. Whether you're a first-time franchise hopeful, a small business owner or an established chain, it's always smart to stay on top of information technology.
Here are some of the highlights of the many insights from the QSRM post:
• The short history of social media saw early adopters creating their own local pages. Since Facebook Local Search debuted last year, many brands have gathered individual pages and Twitter handles under a "parent umbrella."
• This top-down approach has parent companies creating local accounts rather than the franchisees. The challenge becomes how to nurture a community through new accounts. "Growth can take a really long time," says Judi Cutrone of The VIA Agency, quoted in Duncan's post. "Make sure the marketing is there and that you’re really doing anything you can to build up a community so that it looks full and thriving as soon as you can manage it."
• Driven by the desire for increased quality control, Wendy's has, over the last 18 months, converged its many social media personas to build a more standardized local experience. Brandon Rhoten, Wendy's VP of Digital and Social Media, tells Duncan, "We believe you need to use a copywriter to write a Facebook post."
• Working with Balihoo, a marketing and software startup, Wendy's has developed Wendy's Local, now available to about half of its market.
• Pinkberry frozen-yogurt began using social media in 2009, and two years later franchisees were granted mobile access on Twitter and Foursquare. Now the company is working with MomentFeed to launch a portal that amalgamates Twitter handles, Facebook pages and local tags on Instagram.
• Pinkberry views its social media presence as a connected ecosystem where each store is community-driven. "The potential for slightly diverse messaging and local flair is something Pinkberry’s corporate team thinks makes the brand authentically local," Duncan writes. "In addition to providing a visual and verbal toolkit for its franchisees, the company shows local operators how to repurpose Instagram photos taken by local patrons for added consumer engagement and content creation."
• Dunkin' Donuts maintains a team of regional and international partners to localize its content. Operators may showcase local news and partnerships, but a 10-person team at the company's headquarters centrally manages special promotions and sweepstakes.
• Duncan writes that Facebook has become a key platform for driving localized consumer-brand interaction with options and strategies available specifically to restaurants. Ben Nemo, Facebook's restaurant business lead for global marketing solutions, told Duncan, "We try to always help the national brand message have guardrails from which the local markets can follow, but know when the timing is right to say something themselves."
• Localized Twitter marketing can be a challenge. "Twitter is still at the country and the brand level, and I think it’s not a best practice for a [quick serve] to open a Twitter handle for every location," says Erica McClenny, senior vice president of product management at social software firm Expion, quoted in the post.
• Again, McClenny, "For Facebook, a top-down approach can be most effective so long as it’s intended to improve best practices, not dominate franchisees."
• McClenny praises social media channels for being less expensive than traditional marketing platforms. "It’s much less expensive to test, which allows you to be more effective with your bigger messages," she tells Duncan. "It’s not just throw it against the wall and see what sticks; you can be very smart about it."
• Duncan concludes by writing, "Beyond boosting sales and foot traffic, the best benefit to a localized presence is a brand’s ability to foster a more intimate relationship with specific individual customers."
Read the full Nicole Duncan's QSRMagazine.com post here.
We form lasting direct to end user partnerships with our clients that you simply can’t get from an POS-affiliated reseller, allowing larger franchises to grow and providing startups the foundation for future growth from the very beginning by acting as a franchise incubator. Our expertise can help you avoid common pitfalls of entry into this thriving but complex industry — including the challenge of using technological advances to meet customer expectations.
Whether you're a first-time franchise hopeful, a small business owner or an established chain, it's always smart to stay on top of technological, and social, industry trends.
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