In today’s internet-driven multimedia age, media branding is spreading more quickly and easily than ever before. A decade after mass adoption of portable internet-enabled devices such as smartphones, audiences in many of the world’s countries are able to identify trending content – and vote with their thumbs as to which content becomes vogue.
With such connectivity present in many corners of the globe, it has essentially never been more effortless to disseminate the identity of a brand and enable it to penetrate local markets. Connectivity on an individual level nonetheless requires a brand to appeal to consumers on an individual basis, and crucially inspire those consumers to share brand identity with one another.
It is mastering this prerequisite which has led to the popularity of brands which by default include ‘social’ elements: social networks, messaging services and, increasingly, collaborative social media publications. The last of these three include what are now well-known names such as Buzzfeed, while print media such as the UK’s Metro have expanded its reach via viral distribution and, increasingly, offering local franchising opportunities.
Franchising in media is not an alternative to viral social mobility. Rather, it is a precursor to this stage which allows for viral reach to be maximized in local markets through the specialist knowledge of the franchisees.
Metro began its franchising rollout in 2000, having operated in London as a single publication for the past year. Associated Newspapers, owner of Metro, confirmed in a statement at the time that the company had “decided to enter into local franchise agreements to facilitate the continued expansion of the Metro as a national brand whilst utilizing the benefits offered by local publisher presence, in terms of their local editorial, printing and distribution capabilities.”
Social franchising for cryptomedia
Within cryptocurrency media, CoinTelegraph was the first to adopt an international franchising policy. Despite only being launched two months ago, considerable interest in the scheme has led to successful franchises being started across the world, from Greece to South Africa. As an internet-based resource, CoinTelegraph’s viral spread is naturally eased through connected markets, but franchisees further point to other aspects as being important factors in their own success stories.
Resource-specific benefits, which in CoinTelegraph’s case include unique brand visuals and content selection, are balanced with those inherent to the franchise model itself. This includes reduced financial bureaucracy and the ability to concentrate on developing a presence more quickly with fewer human resources.
“Franchising makes your life a lot easier,” Bitalo’s Martin Albert, who runs CoinTelegraph Germany, explained. “Franchisees are usually small entrepreneurs without a big team and they have to think about a million of things, from tax questions to marketing. Since time is the limiting factor in every startup, in the end the ‘core business’ would suffer a lot, when you waste your time with all these support tasks.”
As is frequently reported in franchising horror stories, it is the willingness of the franchisor to guide the growth of its satellite operations which can be a ‘make or break’ factor for the brand in question. Albert agrees:
“You can rely on existing knowledge of people that have not only already established a well-known brand, but also you have help with so many questions that naturally come up in the beginning. Franchising really keeps your head free of many things, you can keep your creativity and focus on what is really important: a good product.”
Increasing the quality of output from local areas is a view echoed by CoinTelegraph Czech Republic CEO Karel Fillner.
“I’ve been interested in cryptocurrencies since 2012 and spent more than a year writing a blog about them [BTCTip.cz],” he said. “I saw huge differences in people’s awareness of cryptocurrencies, new technologies and the opportunities they bring, and while I was not writing a blog for a narrow group of geeks, I was looking for ways to attract a wider audience. A franchise program gave me exactly that opportunity.”
In an industry as dynamic as cryptocurrency, the ability to diversify resources and include as broad a range of perspectives is even more important than in other media sectors. Successful crypto media outlets thrive on international presence on a local scale, and it is this interconnected, social style of media reporting that is increasingly being harnessed as the industry progresses.