How will social networking affect franchises in 2011?

by Kate on December 31, 2010

Unless you’ve been on a desert island for the last year, you’re unlikely to have missed the rise of Social Networking as an influence on how we do business. There are now over 600 million users of Facebook, and the most rapidly growing demographic is people over 40. There are around two hundred million people on Twitter and one hundred million on Linkedin.

In a recent article for Harvard Business Review, Bill George, Professor of Business Management Practice at Harvard, highlights some of the changes brought about as social networking goes mainstream.

  • Leaders can communicate broadly and in real-time with the audience they want to reach
  • Social networking is flattening organisations and removing hierarchies
  • Middle management may become obsolete when they are no longer need to convey information up and down in an organisation.
  • Consumer marketing companies are using networks to reach potential customers with highly personalised messages.

From the article “From a leadership perspective, social networking is making authentic leadership a reality and a necessity for 21st century leaders. You can’t hide on your social network when you’re revealing who you are and what you really believe. Transparency is essential here.”

To read the full article, click here.

The effect on franchise business

It’s interesting to consider how the trends in social networking and connection might affect franchising. Here are some questions that came to my mind:

  • How might connected communities and flatter organisations impact field support roles, skill set and use of off-line time?
  • How might these changes affect the allocation of human and financial resources at the franchisor office?
  • How can social networks contribute to franchise recruitment?
  • What’s the impact on how marketing funds are spent?
  • Should the CEO and executive team use blogs and Twitter (and can this be outsourced)?
  • How might use of direct messaging and Skype help business?
  • How can we deal with the disruption effect of these technologies?
  • Should social networking be ‘controlled’, and if so how?

Looking to find out more in 2011?

If you’re interested in finding out more about social networking, here are some ideas:

  • For franchisors: Come along to Social Media in Franchising
  • Listen to AK Stout and Deb Evans on Social Geek radio podcasts (Deb is CEO of Houson-based franchise Computer Explorers)
  • Read Deb Evan’s leadership blog
  • Join in the conversation on Linkedin forums (I got the idea for this post from the group Franchise Social Media)

Join the conversation

  • How do you use social networking technologies in your franchise business?
  • What benefits and challenges have you experienced?
  • If you’re yet to dive in, what is holding you back?

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