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If you’re a local affiliate or franchisee of a large national brand, you’re familiar with this dilemma: How to build a local Facebook page for your franchise while keeping corporate branding and messaging intact?
It’s a scenario encountered often by Brandon Lee, founder and CEO of Social Stage, an online platform that allows users to build custom websites within Facebook pages. Clients of Social Stage, which launched in April 2011, are often real estate agents, franchise owners and small-business owners looking to build a Facebook page that drives traffic locally.
“I had a conversation last week with a prospective client,” Lee says. “She is an affiliate for a public company in the medical industry, with more than 600 locations. Corporate is scared of anyone at the local level saying anything on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other online platform. So their social media protocol for local offices is simple—just say ‘NO.’ They know this isn’t the best answer, but it’s the best they can offer without worrying about lawsuits, loss of brand value and other things that will keep brand managers up at night.”
Lee says you have two options. Stick with “No” and do nothing, or figure out how you can maintain national integrity but give your brand a local touch.
The answer is planning and automation. “Coming from a marketing and print background, I see social media very similar to direct mail. For example, I know a national brand that helped the local marketing affiliate with their direct mail by supplying templates and allowing them to select from options. Then, once they make their selections, corporate does the work for them. Local affiliates get local ‘flavor’ that is brand-approved, and it gets implemented though national vendor relationships.”
With social media, all the systems exist to do the same thing. National brands can create multiple templates for websites by offering affiliates a collection of high-res images, industry-related articles and ready-to-go marketing copy.
Brands can do the same with Facebook fan pages, offering help with creating a page, obtaining a vanity URL (www.facebook.com/SUCCESSmagazine) and providing downloadable cover images. Variations of these same Facebook principles exist with setting up your individual Twitter or Google+ accounts that are customized for your own needs and customers. (Read Jason Dorsey's four steps for building a Facebook fan page in five minutes a week.)
Social Stage customers, for example, can set up a library of acceptable posts, including graphics, links, calls-to-action and any relevant and engaging content they would like to include. A dashboard then lists all the relevant analytics for Facebook Fan Page and website in your entire network.
So the next time you get asked what you are going to do about social media and online marketing at the local level you are prepared to take a deep breath and think about your options before your gut takes over and screams “No.” More on SUCCESS.com, read how three businesses helped build their brand with a Facebook page.
What questions do you have about building a Facebook Fan Page? Ask and discuss below with the SUCCESS community.