Social media is an issue that won't go away for the franchising community. If anything, its become more important than ever for franchises. Developing a clear, focused and rewarding social media policy is difficult and nebulous work, so it's always helpful to get the opinions of people who are succeeding.
I came across a really interesting interview on eMarketer with Ronalee Zarate-Bayani, the woman responsible for developing Taco Bell's social media strategy. She's an interesting woman with some exciting ideas about how to promote her franchise via the internet. Her importance to the company was noted recently when a class action case was brought against Taco Bell over claims that "it was misleading customers about the ingredients in its tacos". While the case has been subsequently dropped, Zarate-Bayani response to it - the creation of “Super Delicious Ingredient Force” videos - has highlighted how essential a strong social media presence can be.
Since Taco Bell's target audience is 18-34 year-old males, they figured that comic-hero themed video content would speak directly to their eaters. A few months later, they've received nearly one millions views across a variety of media platforms. For a franchise that targets men, especially young men, Zarate-Bayani feels that video is a vital domain.
"We’ve found that the digital space is a young man’s virtual world. They access this world in so many different ways within the digital medium. They access our content through their mobile phones, so it was really important for us to make sure that they could see the videos on their mobile devices. They access YouTube on mobile, so that’s key. It’s important for us to go where they go and not to try to bring them to us. We have to be where they naturally already are," she said.
This is must-read material for anyone in franchising trying to create a digital media strategy. Zarate-Bayani touches on many points- Twitter vs Facebook, social media ROI - that are essential for understanding how to best promote your brand in the digital sphere.