How To Determine A Social Media Strategy For Your Franchise Business
Social media marketing is an essential element to growth and success in any marketplace. This proves to be a unique challenge for franchises. Keeping consistent branding via social among all franchisees is at the core of the challenges many franchises face.
A well-developed social media marketing strategy can influence purchase decisions, especially for franchise. Just as long as franchisors and franchisees are on the same page when it comes to branding and the goals and aims of the business as a whole.
Benefits for franchises that have a stellar social media strategy include . . .
- More followers over a larger target audience.
- A customer community loyal to your franchise and franchisees.
- Closer relationship with local leaders and community influencers.
- Highlighting your credibility among customers.
- Access to instant feedback about events, promotions, and deals.
- Increased online visibility on a local, national, and global level.
Did you know that 78 percent of consumers are influenced to make a purchase from a business’ social media posts?
According to an Invesp survey, 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on referrals they find via social media.
Importance of Social Media Content Marketing
If you want to maximize the content marketing efforts of your franchise, you better be looking at the top four social channels for content sharing.
Facebook is leading the way for social content sharing at 57 percent. The Facebook Messenger platform should also be part of your social media efforts as well, with 1.2 million monthly active users, according to Statista.
The simple fact remains, to build and engage with the local community, franchisors and franchisees need social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social channels.
Franchises depend a lot on social media to connect with local communities in an effective and meaningful way. Franchise owners are perpetually tweaking marketing strategies, and implementing new products, services, promotions, and season events. There is just no better way to get the word out these days.
Can You Have an Effective Social Strategy in a Regulated Industry?
The very nature of a franchise is one of the biggest challenges franchisors and franchisees face when it comes to social media marketing. In a regulated industry, it can be difficult to ascertain the control franchisors have over local marketing efforts.
Staying true to a more regulated approach, Starbucks runs a pretty tight ship for social media marketing . . .
If you’re a franchise owner, it is important to understand what you want to do, what you can do, and how to match the local marketing message with that of the national or global one. This is easier said than done when it comes to social media.
Social media is an ever-changing marketing channel that can be successful if you know how to leverage it correctly. There are also 3 big questions franchises need to consider prior to developing a solid social marketing presence, from HQ to all franchise branches.
- Is the franchisee allowed to create their own content marketing assets, or must they use the content assets developed by the franchisor?
- Can franchisees have their own social ad campaigns?
- Will each franchisee/location have their own social media presence, or will they have access to one main social channel to post and run ads on?
Having a localized message your franchise followers can resonate is important, Steve Olenski of Forbes explained. “This is an integral part of creating a community, and showing your dedication to serving your customers. Create content which reflects the interests of your local area, as it helps reveal you as an individual, even with a well-known company name.”
Before diving into social media marketing tips for franchises, let’s take a closer look at potential structures that can take your franchise social media marketing to the next level. After all, the overall marketing success of any franchise depends heavily on the franchisor/franchisee agreement.
4 Franchise Social Media Marketing Structures
Social media marketing can often be challenging for a single business. If add in multiple franchise locations, this challenge becomes amplified. However, if your general marketing plan is successful, you may find you social media strategy easier to implement across multiple business units.
The number one question to think long and hard about is how to integrate franchisees into the brand’s existing social marketing strategy. Unfortunately, there is no exact solution. You simply need to find what level of control or integration works for your franchise.
Four structures franchises can draw from and integrate are . . .
- Centralized: This is the easiest, yet most controlled with one central social media account for the entire franchise. This ensures all content and messaging is on brand. However, it may not be the most localized or culturally impactful approach.
- Centralized Blend: This social media strategy for franchises allows franchisees to provide content for the main social channels still controlled by the franchise owner. This can have a more local feel while keeping content on brand. This approach, however, can increase workflow for franchise social media managers.
- Franchisor Controlled: For franchisors that don’t want to manage multiple social channels, but want franchisees to have a direct connection to their customers, this approach is great. However, the franchisor will provide most of the content, and this could cause conflict between franchise locations and HQ. The local messaging could also miss the mark as well.
- Franchisor Monitored: For franchisors that want to relinquish control of social media marketing, the franchisor monitored strategy is optimal. Likely the less micromanaged approach, franchisees can develop and manage their own social channels, posts, and thus keep a strong connection with their communities.
Whichever above structure you choose, it is important to keep your audience in mind. If your products or services generally have more success if packaged and marketed in a localized way, you should consider this in your social media strategy.
McDonald’s Houston keeps it localized . . .
Once franchises have a better overview of what kind of social structure there will be, it is time to begin building that powerful community of followers.
3 Social Media Marketing Tips for Franchises
1. Start By Working Together
Franchisors and franchisees that work together will often find greater social media marketing growth and success. Having a collaborative effort with guidelines in place will ultimately keep confusion and butting heads out of the equation.
For example, Facebook’s organic search feature will weed out any corporate run pages. This can have a decrease in local follower engagement. Franchises that work together can ensure their posts are getting the appropriate reach they deserve.
Social media strategies to keep HQ and franchisees collaborating include . . .
- Develop a system to share content, such as localized posts, hashtags, and images.
- Encourage franchisees to share feedback on localized content, promotion, deals, and events to help HQ better develop social campaigns and ads.
- Have a shared content calendar in place to keep everyone aware of what is happening locally and globally.
- Automate your social media strategy when possible. You can use Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule and edit posts on multiple social channels.
PromoRepublic is a great online platform that can automate your social media strategy.
By automating and systematizing the entire franchise social media marketing efforts, everyone will benefit. The success on the ground in local franchisee locations will also keep corporate interested in collaborating more as well.
2. Research Your Audience
Whether your franchise is following a centralized approach, or a franchisor monitored social approach, it is vital to know your local audience. Social media needs to be social, and if you are missing the local mark, your social media strategy simply won’t be beneficial on any level.
Incorporating local events, weather, and targeting a local audience based on community demographics will help you understand your audience better. Thus allowing you to connect with them in a more meaningful way on social media.
For instance, if you have a franchise location in a large university town, you will want to utilize social channels college aged audiences use the most, like Instagram.
To conduct an audit of any franchise location, you should be looking at a few key demographics like age, sex, income, education level, employment industry, and more.
A great online tool to find a wide range of the above demographics is Movoto.
By using Movoto you can search by state and zip code to get the essential information you need to develop a social media strategy that will connect in a profitable way.
3. Make Engagement More Important than Sales
Sales are always great, but when it comes to social media marketing, your focus should be on engagement. Not only does frequent engagement lead to conversions, it ensures your followers are sharing your content as well.
Three essential elements to on brand and engaging social content are . . .
- Insightful Content: To produce shareable social content and the engagement that converts you want to offer up little insights into your franchise. This can be a behind the scenes look into production, featuring an exceptional employee, or highlighting how you are giving back to the community.
- Be Consistent: You want to keep your social posts and images on brand, as well as consistent. You want everything to be familiar without a lot of variance.
- Interactive Content: To get your followers engaging in your social media posts, make your content interactive. You can use polls, surveys, and quizzes that will be relevant to your local audience.
Ace Hardware does this to engage their local community . . .
To keep your social media marketing strategy on brand for consistency, interactive content, and staying insightful, you can use platforms like Quip.
Quip is like Google Docs, but more user-friendly. This is good for franchisees that may not be so digitally savvy.
This platform allows all social media managers, from HQ to franchisee locations, to develop, edit, and share social marketing assets. Consistency can be as easy as communication and staying on brand.
Making the most of your franchise social media strategy involves many intricacies many businesses don’t face. With corporate oversight and multiple locations, having a detailed plan in place can increase profits locally while boosting global brand awareness.
To facilitate this success, however, franchisors and franchisees need to collaborate. Keeping social posts and media localized with guidelines that keep everyone on brand is essential. How do you keep your social media strategy engaging?