Sunday, December 23, 2012

Are Ya In or Ya Out? - Franchising World December 2012

I contributed an article on Social Media and Franchising for the International Franchise Association's "Franchising World" magazine.

Here's the digital version

......and the text version:
"Are ya in or ya out?"  I remember an old newspaper salesperson who would make his rounds every week to local shop owners and ask them that question.  "Are ya in or ya out" was his way of asking if you were going to advertise that week....or not.  

There was no in-between. 

And the same is true for social media.  Either you're in or you're out.   There really is no in-between.  

If you want your brand to be relevant in for now and the future, you really must be IN.

See the sidebar for some compelling reasons why you should commit resources and effort to incorporate social media into your branding and marketing TODAY.  For both franchisor and franchisee, a well executed social media strategy can generate:
  • Increased Sales
  • Strengthened relationships with existing customers
  • New Customers
  • Enhanced Customer service
  • A Consumer research tool
  • Traffic to your website
Now, there are some challenges that go with this which could be show stoppers:
  • What are the roles of the franchisor and the franchisee?
  • How are you going to measure the results?
  • What resources will be invested?
  • Is the effort going to be fully supported from the very top of the organization & will it be funded properly.
This last point is the most critical.

The franchising world has the opportunity to take the lead in integrating social media into their branding & marketing strategy.  Franchising has the key components:  Brand names, local entrepreneurial operators at the point of transaction, marketing & social media strategists and other resources at the franchisor level, and most importantly, customers.  Lots of customers.  The conduit for social media success..... are the customers.

So, let's break it down.  Zors and Zees have common goals - how much money do they both keep at the end of the day.  Of course that creates tension sometimes, but healthy unit economics typically make for a good day.... for everyone.  And fundamentally, this is driven by sales.  So as dollars are considered for social media marketing investment, it's easy to say, it's being implemented to increase sales.  Done right, using social media as part of your brand & marketing strategy can increase customer count, frequency, average ticket......and all of the goals listed above.

A couple of franchisors who are leading the way are Tasti D-Lite and Moe's Southwest Grill.  Tasti D-Lite literally wrote the book on how to do this ("The Tasti D-Lite Way.  Social Media Marketing Lessons for Building Loyalty and a Brand Consumers Crave").  Both brands said their critical step was having buy-in from the very top.  Not just an okay and budget, but having leaders who engage in social media themselves and fully endorse the brand's efforts.  Additionally, specific social media campaigns should have specific goals, knowing that they all eventually roll up to the ultimate objective of increased sales.

Increasing your relationships with current customers online is no different than offline.  A happy customer will spend more, make recommendations and referrals, and likely increase their use of the product.  Simply being diligent about responding to customers' brand related digital activity begins to accomplish that.  Over time, this becomes part of the fabric of the brand and the brand becomes known as customer focused and responsive.  But, you must be passionate and unrelenting. 

As an example, Moe's social media monitor saw a tweet from a customer who, from a store location, said  "I didn't get my "Welcome to Moe's"  By monitoring in real time, seeing the tweeter's profile, they called the store, gave a description of the customer from her Twitter photo and the manager found the customer while she was still in the restaurant and he personally welcomed her to Moe's.   Think about all the benefits generated from that one spontaneous act.  The customer now has an enhanced impression of the brand, her loyalty logically has increased and she used social media to tell perhaps hundreds of others about Moe's. 

This is the social media customer conduit in action.  

Many brands are at least at this stage where they monitor mentions of their brand while they figure out what else to do, what the goals and strategies are, and try to find budget.  Brans must now figure out how to take it to the next stage of what will be perceived by the customer as a random act of your brand really caring about their experience.  Customers have different expectations for different products, services, and concepts.  You know your typical customer demographically.  Now you MUST figure out what their expectations are for social media interaction.  If you meet those expectations, the magic happens. 

Some will say it's easier for a food concept to engage customers.  There tends to be more passion for food than perhaps Home Inspections or Staffing.  That said, HouseMaster utilizes social media for customer satisfaction follow-up.  They also make use of their social media tools to monitor consumer satisfaction with their franchisees.   This is yet another output of a well-integrated social media strategy.  If there are opportunities to enhance that image through regular monitoring and then follow-up coaching sessions with the franchisee (if necessary), one could almost justify the investment on this benefit alone. 

So the answer to the question of whether you're in or you're out, has to not only be a resounding "yes" and it has to start at the top. Realistic goals based on your concept must be established with specific measurement agreed upon for each campaign and a realization that sometimes it may be more gray than black and white.  If the end result is simply a more personalized "human" impression of your brand from current customers, you still win the day.  A positive feeling can lead to increased loyalty and recommendations, "shares", tweets , likes and other social media jargon. This is what used to be known as "word of mouth". We all know that this ultimately leads to more sales, which drives stakeholder value, which is the foundation for every brand. 

So.....Are YOU in or ya out?


Monday, November 12, 2012

Why don't brands follow their customers on Twitter?

I recently realized that I haven't posted since August.  Not that anyone is distraught with the lack of attention to this blog, but I should keep up with it, right?

I do have an excuse of a couple of weeks of personal vacation, some business travel and working on an article on “Using Social Media as Part of an Effective Brand/Marketing Strategy" for the December 2012 issue of the International Franchise Association's "Franchising World" Magazine.

Oh, and I do have my day job which fortunately has been extremely busy.

Anyway, in doing the research for the Franchising World  piece, and as an extension of my August post here, I thought it would be interesting to not only look at the top Franchise Brands' number of Twitter followers:

Concept Twitter  Followers
Subway 753,749
McDonalds 717,350
Taco Bell 268,049
Chick-fil-A 198,263
Dunkin 177,346
Buffalo Wild Wings 171,343
Dominos 149,033
Pizza Hut 136,513
Wendys 126,148
KFC 108,176
Jimmy Johns 103,530
GNC 94,249
Arbys 70,557
Burger King 68,740
Chilis 66,272
as of October 14, 2012

But, also having just re-read the terrific "The Tasti D-Lite Way", I thought I'd see how many franchised brands reciprocate and follow their followers.   In the book, Jim Amos and BJ Emerson discuss "Social Anxiety", the need to have more fans or followers than the competition.  This "viral envy" puts focus on quantity vs. "quality of engagement, and reach and impact".  

Throughout the book, the authors reference their strategy to follow their followers (and it shows the list below).

Why not follow your followers as well?

There are probably many reasons:  I'd bet Number One is "not enough resources to actively separate the signal from the noise".   That can be a legitimate reason, but there are lots of tools available to help.

So here's the Top 15 franchised brands, now ranked by the ratio between how many accounts follow them and how many they follow:

Twitter Followers Twitter    Following
Tasti D-Lite 7,903 7,681 97.2%
Perkins 1,363 1,288 94.5%
Interim Health Care 2,370 2,227 94.0%
Arbys* 70,557 61,805 87.6%
Carl's Jr 28,642 20,485 71.5%
Bojangles 4,622 3,200 69.2%
Hertz 18,593 12,831 69.0%
Home Instead Senior Care 1,026 657 64.0%
Great Clips 5,001 3,117 62.3%
Hardees 15,052 8,312 55.2%
Applebees 37,082 19,870 53.6%
TGI Fridays 17,535 9,247 52.7%
Churchs 8,761 3,917 44.7%
KFC* 108,176 48,302 44.7%

as of October 14, 2012
* in top 15 of total Twitter followers

What do these franchised brands know that most other brands don't?


Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Most "Liked" Franchises on Facebook

Back in April at FranCamp 2012, I spent a fair amount of time beginning the conversation of the advantage Big Brands have over Small Brands on Facebook.

Over the summer,  I took some time to do a down and dirty analysis of Franchised Brands' relative rank in Facebook "Likes" compared to their overall size, based on world-wide sales.  I'm not a researcher so this nothing scientific and you could have done it if you wanted to invest the time.

So since I did invest the time, here are the results of simply looking at the top 100 Franchised Brands from the 2011 Franchise Times report and looking at the number of "likes" they have on Facebook.

Some quick observations that may not be very surprising:

  1. Of the Franchise Times Top 100 Franchised Brands, 47 are Food concepts and they completely dominate the top "Liked" Franchised Brands.  
  2. 43 of the Top 50 "liked" Franchised Brands on Facebook are all Food.
  3. The Top "Liked" Non-Food brand is GNC with nearly 600,000 likes
  4. The ONLY other Non-Food brands in the Top 50 "Likes" are Ace Hardware, am/pm, Snap On Tools, Curves and  UPS Stores

Now here's where it got interesting for me.  What's the delta between the brand's rank in the Top 100 (again, based on system-wide world-wide sales) vs. their rank in Facebook "Likes"? 

Note:  I did not include the Lodging and Real Estate Brands in this analysis because, quite frankly, they're a mess.  Most of them have so many different local properties and franchisees with pages that I couldn't come to a simple conclusion on their aggregated "likes" without a ton more time invested (wasted).

Here's my analysis

It's interesting to see the biggest deltas between the Sales rank and the Facebook rank.  These brands are the top ten overachievers:

  • Krispy Kreme
  • Jimmy Johns
  • Five Guys
  • Hooters
  • Bojangles
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Zaxby's
  • Long John Silvers
  • Baskin Robbins
  • Steak N Shake 
Those restaurant brands that have opportunity to grow their "likes" based on their sales rank include:

  • KFC
  • Wendy's
  • Burger King
  • Tim Horton's

Since I started this blog post back in May and finished it in early August, I have another cut of the data that shows the growth of "Likes" for the top brands.   Generally, the growth per brand was between 5-8%.  Not bad for essentially 90 days.

What stood out was the growth that 5 brands enjoyed:

Chick-fil-A  -- Gained 1.1 million "likes" (+22.6%)

KFC  -- Gained 818,000 "likes" (+35.9%)
iHop --= Gained 581,826 "likes" (+33.3%)
Sonic -- Gained 496,962 "likes" (+33.4%)
Applebees -- Gained 592,000 "likes" (+23.7%)

and relatively small, but Red Robin added 164,985 new "likes", an increase of 44.1%

I wonder if the Chick-fil-A growth was due to its recent "Appreciation Day"?  But what about KFC??  Hasn't their marketing been more active recently?

Once again, here's my analysis including the growth.

All in all, this was an interesting project.  The leader of "Liked" Franchise Brands continues to be McDonald's with over 21 million "likes" followed by Subway with 15.6 million, Taco Bell (nearly 9 million), Buffalo Wild Wings (8.2 million) and Pizza Hut (8.1 million).

How's this compare to other brands?

The Top 5 product brands I was able to find are:

Coca-Cola - 46.5 million
Converse - 32.4 million
Starbucks - 31.2 million
Red Bull - 29.1 million
Oreo - 27.5 million

And to conclude, everyone pales in comparison to Lady Gaga who has over 53 million "likes".

If you would like a copy of the complete research, please email me at

And if you are working on your CFE (Certified Franchise Executive), we'll be sharing more about this at the ICFE Special Session on Social Media & Franchising, February 17, 2003 at the IFA's 53rd Annual Convention.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Intersection of Direct Mail and Social Media

Thanks Engage121 for the opportunity to guest blog today on The Intersection of Direct Mail and Social Media


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Everything I know about Social Media I learned from NASCAR

Everything I know about Social Media I learned from NASCAR

This weekend, NASCAR and Twitter kick off a formal partnership that you can read about at the Google News Round-up.  Having been a NASCAR fan since 1991 when I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina and was exposed to the sport, I have been watching how the NASCAR community has adopted social media, and Twitter especially, organically over the past year or two.  NASCAR fans have migrated to new technology at a faster rate than the American population at large, according to NASCAR consumer research (as published in Fast Company).

As a matter of fact, my wife, also a NASCAR fan, hasn't watched a race in nearly a year without being accompanied by her Twitter account streaming on her iPad.  Her use, some of my own and observation,  has helped me understand some Best Practices that can be transferred to any one or any brand.

While drivers don't tweet from their cars while they are racing at around 200 MPH, their spouses, non-racing staff and others within their team will provide either inside information from the pits, transcripts of their driver radio communication, or simple comments that add context to what's happening on the track.

NASCAR has always been more transparent than any other sport:

  1. Fan access to the Garage and Pit Road on race days (for select fans) which is essentially like being in  on the sidelines during a pro football game.
  2. Two-way radio communications between the Driver and crew is open for anyone at the race with a radio scanner or at home on the web, to hear inside conversation and strategy within the drivers' teams.  You can eavesdrop in between the driver (athlete) and their Crew Chief (head coach) and their "Spotters" (offensive/defensive coordinators up in the booth)  
  3. Even the NASCAR officials make their two-way communication available to the fans in the same manner as the teams.  You can hear "race control" (the referees),  track personnel (the ground crew) and even security/safety personnel.
So it's a natural for the NASCAR professional community (team owners, drivers, crew members, NASCAR executives and officials, and even the NASCAR news media) to use social media, and especially Twitter.  It's simply an extension of their transparency that has been part of the sport for it's 60+ year history.

 Here's a great example I shared at FranCamp.  Brad Keselowski, driver of the Miller Lite Dodge, tweeted a photo from inside his car while in a "red-flag" stop (cars stopped on the track) during the Daytona 500 on February 28, 2012.   He started the day with 65,000 followers.  A simple behind-the-scenes photo tweeted, picked up by others in the NASCAR community (including national television reporters/announcers)

By and by the end of the night Brad had over 200,000 followers.

And here's another key component.  It's the two-way communication that social media is all about.  In the past, the NASCAR communication channel within this transparency has been one way.  Great for the fans to passively see and hear what's happening, but now, the fans get to speak to the professional community...... and they respond!  Think of a radio call-in show where a few lucky listeners get to get through on air and ask a question of the guest.   Twitter provides an open channel 24/7 to the EVERYONE within the NASCAR professional community that has a Twitter account.  It's amazing to see the amount of response they provide to fans.

Major League Baseball, noticing what NASCAR has been doing in social media, is now encouraging their players to tweet during the All-Star Game next month.

Besides the personalities of the real people within NASCAR, as with any community, there needs to be spice.  In ancient times it was the court jester.  In today's NASCAR community there are a number of inanimate objects that tweet.  Typically their tweets are humorous and sometimes down right mean, but it adds yet another ingredient to the mix.

@theorangecone - The traffic cone that sits at the entrance to pit road
@jacquesdebris - Usually appears when the caution flag flies ("for debris on the track')
@nascarcasm - The sarcastic NASCAR tweep
@Sir_NASCARNAGE - Self-proclaimed master of mayhem and menace to NASCAR

Of course these are real people anonymously tweeting.  Think @FakeSteveJobs

Now, how can we all learn from this:

  1. Inside information and behind-the-scenes transparency.  It's human nature to want to see what's not apparent to the public at large.  I made a point of this at FranCamp as a key component to delight (and gain) followers.   Just look at how celebrities are followed by fans to get a glimpse of what they might be thinking or doing that the cameras and press don't capture.
  2. Show personality.  Part of the intense interest in NASCAR among fans is what many call the "soap opera" of the sport.  There are so many personalities, some of which get painted with white hats and black hats, that there's another natural human emotion of wanting to root for or against and follow along.   Add in the personality behind the personality and you really have a "one plus one equals three" scenario for engagement and traction.
  3. Be timely.   Be in the moment.  While a lot is said of the generic inside information that comes from the NASCAR community, there is nothing like getting that inside information as it occurs during the race or practice session or press conference.  Surely you can find something with your brand that is timely.  The formula is:  Inside Information+Timeliness+Personality = Engagement
NASCAR may have been the entity that first really captured the essence of "community".  Twitter (and social media) is just the enabling technology that takes it to a whole new level, which starting this weekend, will become more visible and the entire community will profit from it.
  1. Fans will get more insight and transparency
  2. NASCAR will get more exposure to new markets they are actively trying to expand into
  3. Twitter will get more traffic from an audience that many wouldn't think would be big adopters, but have been on the forefront more than most realize.
With this, everyone is enriched.  Some via information.  Others via $$.

What are you doing to really enrich your followers?  Watch the NASCAR race this Sunday at 1pm:  "The Pocono 400 sponsored by Hashtag NASCAR" on TNT.  Watch it on TV and simultaneously on Twitter and see what how NASCAR is innovating and what you can learn!

Here's a link to my NASCAR Pinterest Board

Update:  Here's one of the several 15 second TV commercials created and aired during the race on Sunday, featuring  @Keselowski:


Friday, June 1, 2012

Social Media Lesssons from Shell Oil

Coming back from FranCamp (hard to believe it's been a month), I'm still fascinated with the whole big brand vs. small brand debate and why certain brands get more "likes" on Facebook and "follows" on Twitter.  I really want to find the time to get to the core with the goal being how small brands can learn from the big brands, particularly in franchising.

One of the elements that I think we all know is that a consumer really has to be passionate about the brand and really really LOVE it to "like" it.  Or be sucked in with the one time offer of a discount or savings to which they never really interact with the brand much again but the brand can claim them on their trophy shelf of likes.  A like really isn't very valuable if the consumer ignores your message.   Similar to claiming a sale even if you never get paid.

Of course the brand has to do their part to engage the audience. 

While I'm doing some of this research in my spare time - I do have a day job - I came across this 4-minute interview from the April NextWeb Conference in Amsterdam.  If an oil company can get over a million likes, most of which in about 60 days, what can we learn?

My takeaway:

  1. It's hard
  2. Driven from the top (CEO gets it - made it happen)
  3. Appropriate resources invested
  4. Experienced partners 
  5. Worldwide Brand - is a million really a small number?

Two great quotes from the interview:

  1. "You have no choice in this area" - meaning getting involved in social media
  2. "Not engaging is the riskiest thing you can do"

What do you think?


Sunday, May 13, 2012

I un-liked a brand I love today

Those of you who attended FranCamp 2012 or watched on Ustream saw me say that I really love Dr. Pepper.  Especially the new Dr. Pepper 10.  I'm drinking one right now as I write this.

Today I un-liked Dr. Pepper on Facebook because I just have had it with the number of times they are marketing to me on Facebook right in my newsfeed. 

Do you think this is too much?  8 Posts in the past week.  5 since Friday.

  • Sunday May 13th at 6pm
  • Sunday May 13th at 1030am
  • Saturday May 12th at Midnight
  • Saturday May 12th at 4pm
  • Friday May 11th at 5pm
  • Monday May 7th at 10pm
  • Monday May 7th  at 629pm 
  • Monday May 7th at 1250pm

At least Edgerank appeared to spare me from about 8 MORE posts that are on their Brand Page that didn't make it into my newsfeed.

I know you've paid a lot of money to be a promotional partner to the Avengers movie that opened earlier this month, but I don't care!

I'll still love the product but I'm not liking this at all!


Monday, May 7, 2012

FranCamp 2012 Follow-Up

Ooooh there's a brand in my stream...

At FranCamp 2012, during my presentation on "Building the Perfect Social Media Campaign",  I posed a few questions.
  1. Is there such a thing?
  2. If so, how do you recognize it?
  3. Do small brands have the same opportunity in social media as big brands ?
  4. Do people really want brands marketing to them in their social media streams?
In future blog posts I will try to open up the discussion on these questions in more detail with the hopes of getting your thoughts and creating a discussion.  

But I want to start with the last question:   Do (normal) people want to hear from brands?  And if so, when, how often, in what form, etc?

My conundrum is that all the research would indicate that people don't want to be marketed to in their social medium streams.  They joined Facebook, Google+, Twitter and others to primarily communicate with their family and friends.  

Here's a link to a simple infographic showing some of the research.

But if consumers say they don't want to be marketed to, then why do brands like these have some many followers and likes?

At FranCamp, someone asked the question if this is self-reported data.  It appears so and we all know that self-reported research and actual activity don't always match up

My takeaway and thesis is that there are characteristics that will cause a brand to be followed or liked.  The consumer has to:

  1. Really "love" the brand to be liked or followed.
  2. Have been incented with a coupon or discount (and the follow-up communication from the brand has been meaningful and/or valuable to the consumer to avoid drop-off)
  3. Had a long relationship with primarily BIG brand (which I believe have an advantage in social media)
If you're not Coca-Cola, Red Bull or Starbucks, you should focus on the following:
  1. Have realistic expectations for the number of likes, fans, followers (you don't need 20 million "likes").
  2. Focus on creating meaningful content always with a focus from the consumers' perspective.
  3. Leverage your traditional marketing to grow your social media consumer engagement.
Next blog post we'll dive into some specific big brands mentioned at FranCamp and what we can learn from their activity and results.  

What do you think??  Leave a comment.

Here's the video of my FranCamp 2012  presentation:

And here's the link to all the FranCamp 2012 presentations.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

FranCamp 2012 Pre-work

By Todd Leiser

Listen to the April 19th discussion of the "Perfect Social Media Campaign" on Social Geek Radio.  Hear how the Dr. Pepper & White Castle social media campaigns tie into the Pepto-Bismol Social Media Campaign both socially and in reality!

Listen to internet radio with Social Geek Radio on Blog Talk Radio
Ahead of my presentation at FranCamp 2012 on May 4th -- "Building the Perfect Social Media Campaign", throughout the month of April, I will be posting some elements that will be helpful for attendees (and non-attendees) to review prior to the event:

Since FranCamp is in Atlanta, the home of many iconic companies, I'm going to highlight some that are deeply committed to figuring out how to leverage social media, for many different objectives.

Probably the most impressive strategy and transparency to that strategy, is Coca-Cola.  Take the time to watch these two short creative videos and see how they are incorporating social media as part of a plan to double the size of their business.

Part One:

Part Two:

Delta Airlines took their own people and taught them about social media rather than hire an outside firm and teach them about their business:

Here's a link to the slides referenced in the above video.

And also this is a really good short 4 minute video that shows Delta's Social Media strategy in action. Creating a customer for life is very cool:

UPS presents how they use social media for customer service (sorry the audio is poor).   

And be sure to register for FranCamp today


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

To be a Social Media Expert, some people believe this is all it takes.....

Personally, I'm no expert, however I was LinkedIn member 113,215 (now over 150 million LinkedIn users) and joined Facebook September 26, 2006, the first day it was available without an .edu email address.  I sent my first tweet on June 17, 2007.  As I said as the moderator of the "Twitter Frontier - Harnessing the Power of Social Media While Protecting Your Franchise System" in February at the 52nd annual International Franchise Association's Annual Convention, I like to think I'm more a voice of reason and practicality about social networks than a heavy user and certainly not an "expert"!

Especially as defined above!

Here's a nice piece on what it takes to be a "social media expert":

Well, perhaps, I do fall into that category on 10 of the 12 points - at least when it comes to franchising, franchise development, and Marketing/PR. 

Do you?

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