I’ve addressed multiple scenarios that identify opportunities for corporate marketers to collaborate with regional marketers and franchisees. But how do you help the passionate “cowboys” in the field who are attempting to use social media tactics to drive their sales--who feel empowered to blaze their own trails and have never been required to take direction from corporate leadership?

Managing the various social media channels for your brand or company can be a thankless role unless there’s a problem or crisis. Even then, once the leadership is brought into the loop, it really only complicates the situation further. This reminds me of the “cat herding” Super Bowl commercial Fallon did few years back. The visual of cowboys chasing thousands of kitties across the prairies was a big hit with viewers, despite very few folks being able to remember that spot was for the the technology company EDS.

So, what is the most advantageous way to wrangle your proverbial social media cats with multiple stakeholders, consumer-bases, geographies, and even social handles? Do you now turn to your agency or internal marketing team to develop a strategy for aligning a fragmented social media presence both visually and strategically? How do you coach your individual stakeholders to deliver content that speaks to their local shoppers and delivers the message in a relevant, compelling way for a positive ROI? And how can you ensure participation in the alignment process?

Our recommendation is to first consider taking a coaching and supporting approach vs purely a corporate mandate--providing instruction and tools for support, so there’s a distinct possibility of social media alignment. Yes, it might feel like you are giving away the “power” but in our experience most of the cowboys are looking for you to engage in their plight and show you understand that the brand has a different relationship with folks in your market vs theirs. Spend time with the stakeholders, showing your acknowledgement of their concerns and establish best practices based on the best of what you observe in the field. Acknowledge the high-achievers in the mix in front of their peers and encourage them to take a mentoring role.  

Then make a concerted effort to share these documented best practices, recommendations and examples. This will give stakeholders the guidance they need to be brand compliant without stifling their ability to communicate authentically with their local customers. As you gain participation you can layer in more complex and definitive best practices--making sure the educational and budget resources are increased accordingly.

Most importantly, this provides you, the “wrangler,” a realistic way to drive the cattle, or rather--guide the brand, and ultimately grow sales through providing an abundance of advice, resources and skill-building tools that will be warmly received.

If herding Lone Ranger-style seems daunting, consider soliciting help from an outside resource who has been down this road before. Social Forces has been developing social media strategies for corporations for the past decade--from the very moment corporations became aware they need one, practically speaking.


Ari Rothman is the VP/Accounts & Marketing Services at Social Forces, and a 20+ year CPG/retail and restaurant marketing veteran with account experience in integrated social media platforms and now leads new business development.  To contact Ari or hear more about Social Forces email Ari@SocialForces.com or call 813-775-2282 Ext. 700