2010 is pegged as the tip-over year in which Generation Y will outnumber Baby Boomers in the workplace. It's a new generation for whom social media is an integral part of life--96 percent are active in an online social network. Incredibly, if Facebook were a country, it would be the world's fourth largest, with more than 300 million active users. Each week, more than three million events are created at the site, and two billion pieces of content (links, photos, etc.) are shared among members.
A large percentage of companies are already involved in social media in some manner--LinkedIn has more than 47 million members including executives from every Fortune 500 company--but many are still figuring out ways to use social media to further their business. One opportunity you may not have thought about is using social media to promote your annual convention.
Franchise conventions are great opportunities for culture building, networking and motivation. Social media sites can help you achieve better results in all of those areas. Conventions also represent a sizable investment and using social media can help you leverage the investment made when you bring your franchisees together.
Social media is all about sharing; it's about the relationship between information provider and audience. Social media Web sites exist to facilitate user participation and display user-generated content. Types of social media include networking sites such as LinkledIn and Facebook, bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us, social news sites like Twitter and Digg, and media-sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube.
The Price is Right
One of the many advantages of social media is that it is essentially free to use. You can certainly buy ads and sponsorships, but using the technology itself is flee. For a franchise convention, social media can help you on two fronts: generating buzz and excitement to help increase attendance, and providing tools for greater interactivity, message delivery, retention and motivation.
On Facebook and LinkedIn, you can create convention specific "fan pages" or send invitations using built-in event functions. These invitations can link to more traditional online registration sites where fees are collected and franchisees sign up for activities. A great way to build buzz is to send Facebook and LinkedIn group members occasional teasers for the convention such as a promotion for a special guest or activity.
Once attendees have...