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Maximising customer interaction through social media

Digital publishing has become a part of today's retail world and restaurant franchisors have learnt very quickly to promote their brands on social media platforms to encourage consumers to try them out and to keep coming back.
Digital communities using a variety of electronic devices have developed around brands that harness social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Well-informed South African franchisors have recognised just how valuable these communities can be to advance their brands and are actively engaging with them by creating an interactive space in which consumers can communicate both their good and not so positive experiences.

There is a lot of material to draw from in order to present content that is always engaging. In addition to the menu and special offers, we, at Maxi's, talk about our Corporate Social Investment programmes, community events, and meal reviews and dip into press releases and opinion pieces we have issued to the media. The criteria for selecting content is that it must attract and add value to our Maxi's social media community. This way we are also able to extract the most value out of our regular promotions, effectively extending our advertising campaign by reaching a larger audience at no extra cost.

The task here is to consistently select good online content to ensure the brand not only engages our online communities but that they will also return to us regularly and encourage their own following to do the same.

Equally important as choosing content is moderating the conversations that take place in this environment. Consumers tend to use social media to express product or service complaints and concerns, because it is an easy way to air their grievances. While we cannot control negative comments, we can control how well they are managed. It is therefore critically important for us to respond to these complaints as quickly as possible in positive and constructive way that ultimately promotes our brand. We also handle questions put to us by the media on our social media platforms with the same speed and efficiency.

Social media is here to stay and is a growing phenomenon, particularly as electronic devices become increasingly integrated. As a forward-thinking and progressive franchisor, we recognise both the positive and potentially negative outcomes of engaging with our audiences through social media. However, it is without doubt the most effective way to gauge the real-time pulse of our brand in the marketplace.

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About the author

Yolandi Ferreira is Maxi's marketing manager.

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