Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine Issue IV, 2016 - Page 58

Data & Segmentation


Gone Social How three brands are engaging customers online

Twenty years ago business discovered the Internet and the world wide web ,“ changing everything .” Ten years ago Twitter and Facebook arrived , changing everything again . Today we ’ re still adjusting … to social media , 24-hour feedback , and “ customerization ” ( customers driving how companies develop products and services ).

( For an entertaining and informative take on how we arrived where we are today , look up “ The Complete History of Social Media ” from Avalaunch Media and “ The History of Social Networking ” on Digital Trends .)
The challenge for businesses not only is keeping up with the most popular platforms and channels to find and engage with their customers , but to stay current with continual change — within the platforms they ’ ve chosen and with new ones that continue to appear , gaining and waning in popularity by the month .
We spoke with three brands , Buffalo Wings & Rings , Moe ’ s Southwest Grill , and Meineke Car Care Centers to see how they are using social media and digital technology for customer engagement and as a local marketing tool for their franchisees .
At Buffalo Wings & Rings ( BW & R ), Facebook is the primary social channel for connecting with customers . The reason ? Simple . “ Because so many of our consumers are on it ,” says Marketing Director Diane Matheson . That consumer , she says , is 30 to 55 years old and probably not jumping on the latest technology bandwagon .
For BW & R , which is approaching 70 restaurants , the benefits of using Facebook include building brand awareness and engaging with customers in real time , she says , including personalizing and customizing communications to online fans . Examples include alerting them to events , offers , and promotions in their area or store .
Reaching and engaging with the brand ’ s consumers , she says , means “ staying focused on where your audience is and not chasing the shiny new object .” And while Facebook is the primary platform for online customer engagement ,“ We ’ re not ignoring other channels ,” says Matheson .“ We know where our guests are and employ the same strategy we use on Facebook in those other channels .”
“ Engagement ” is a much-used word these days . For Matheson it involves having conversations with people online , just as one would with a friend . Her hope is that entering online conversations and discreetly sharing brand news and posting other content will generate likes and encourage photo postings , offline conversations , and referrals — and , of course , that those connections will generate increased foot traffic into stores , boost online ordering , and result in bigger tickets .
She says it ’ s more about participating in , rather than driving , online conversations . Determining the balance of “ push ” and “ pull ” is a fine line to walk , a constantly moving target . It also differs by platform ( see table on page 60 ). And in terms of what to add to the conversation , she says her “ pillars ” are to be entertaining , engaging , educational , informational , and promotional .
Start by identifying your target audience online . “ Go out and find where the consumers are online and what types of content they engage in ,” she says . Facebook , says Matheson , is not about you and your brand , but getting your brand into the conversation your customers and fans are already having . Don ’ t interrupt the conversation with overly promotional
Diane Matheson
content or what you want customers to be interested in . Rather , she says , follow this 80 / 20 rule : it ’ s 80 percent about the conversation with fun , engaging content , and 20 percent about the brand .
When it comes to online participation , “ Pick one thing and do it really well ,” she says , and model that approach to go “ all in ” on other platforms you select . She suggests listening to the online conversations your customers are having , creating content buckets for each platform , and establishing content calendars six to
Data & Segmentation
“ Understanding the guest is core to any brand and marketing program ,” says BW & R ’ s Matheson . She gathers data on the brand ’ s core consumers from review sites , social media pages , secret shopper scores , demographics and psychographics , and more . One goal is to sort those customers into different , discernible segments based on factors such as trip occasions , why they chose the brand , why not , how they feel about the category , health trends , etc .
This helps her determine “ who we ’ re going after , why , where , how we talk to them , and what we need to say ,” she says . Segments can be based on many variables and help to determine different , customized approaches , from online engagement to new product development .
“ We use segmentation and consumer research for everything — new flavor profiles , what consumers are expecting , and what will weaken or strengthen brand health scores ,” she says . “ When you understand your consumer and your brand at the core it makes every decision easier .” This also helps the team at corporate with decisions such as whether participation in a new social media site is worthwhile , where to advertise , and in crafting a media plan .
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