Building a social media strategy as a franchise comes with a stack of extra considerations. Unlike other small businesses, you’re not planning for one business: you need to craft a compelling social media presence for every franchise location.
But there are stacks of reasons why your franchise (and franchisees) should be tapping into the opportunities provided by social media giants (like Instagram). This visual social media channel can allow you to expand the reach of your business, boost sales in lower-performing locations and gain market share in your industry.
With over 1 billion active users, Instagram is one of the top four social media networks in the world. If you’re ready to supercharge your franchises’ growth and make 2022 your biggest year yet, keep reading to discover our ultimate guide to succeeding on Instagram as a franchise.
Instagram for franchisors vs. franchisees
Before we go any further, let’s get a few foundational terms cleared up. In a nutshell, a franchise is a business structure that gives other people and business owners the right to sell goods or services using their brand name. In most cases, this means opening their own location or branch.
Companies such as Starbucks, KFC, and McDonald’s all use a franchise structure. This means that each location is owned by individuals (known as franchisees) that have purchased the franchise license for that location from the franchisor.
So, why would someone sign up to become a franchisee? Typically these business owners score support from the franchisor to get their new location or store set up (from supplies to staff training and even marketing materials).
Now, let’s bring this back to Instagram. There are a few important considerations and challenges to navigate when getting started on Instagram as both a franchisor and a franchisee.
Instagram challenges for franchisors
As a franchisor, you’re spinning a thousand plates. Adding social media into your marketing mix can be a powerful tool to increase sales and grow your business. But it does come with a few considerations, including:
- Retaining a clear and consistent brand identity, including your visual look and feel as well as your brand’s tone of voice.
- Ensuring your franchisees respond to customer messages and engagement within a timely fashion.
- Calculating your return on investment and making sure your locations are seeing tangible results from your Instagram marketing efforts.
Instagram challenges for franchisees
As for franchisees, finding the time to post consistently on Instagram can be a major challenge, along with other key considerations including:
- Aligning your Instagram content to your franchisor’s desired brand identity and tone of voice.
- Finding the internal resources to manage your Instagram account and provide proactive responses to customer enquiries.
- Ensuring you’re reaching and connecting with your local community and making your location stand out from competitors in your local area.
Why franchise businesses should be leveraging the power of Instagram
As a franchise business, expanding your business and winning over new franchise owners is one of your top priorities. At the same time, you need to find ways to ensure the success of your existing locations and help them tap into their local demographics, too.
When it comes to social media, Instagram is one of the most effective platforms for businesses (including franchises). Driven by rich, high-quality visual content, Instagram gives business owners the tools to reach their local community and deliver captivating content to boost sales and inspire loyalty.
Let’s run you through five key reasons why you and your franchise business owners need to be using Instagram for business:
- Instagram allows you to tap into local customers: with dedicated accounts for each of your local franchises, these business owners can reach and engage with their local community using Instagram features such as hashtags and geotagging.
- Instagram gives local customers a taste of what to expect from your venues: with high-quality photography, behind-the-scenes Instagram Stories and eye-catching Reels, your franchises can connect with customers on a local level and showcase what to expect from their in-store experience.
- Instagram is a cost-effective marketing channel: rather than spending thousands of dollars on digital marketing and social advertising, an organic Instagram strategy allows your franchise locations to promote their products, services and on-brand experience to local residents.
- Instagram lets your customers advocate for your brand: by encouraging local customers to share user-generated content, your franchise location can reshare these powerful pieces of social proof to their own local pages. Plus, this content can win over potential customers and build trust with new audiences in each businesses’ local area.
- Instagram gives you insights and analytics to measure your success: every single Instagram account you set up for your franchise business will have its own set of Instagram Insights to help you make data-informed decisions about how to promote your business with local customers.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to reach new customers, win business in local areas, showcase your new products and build brand awareness, Instagram needs to be at the top of your agenda.
Should you create Instagram accounts for your franchisees?
One of the biggest dilemmas franchises face is this: should I create local pages for each of my franchisee locations?
Obviously, there are some resourcing challenges with creating individual Instagram accounts for each franchise location. You’ll need to ensure each business owner has time to manage and monitor this account for customer engagement. Plus, you can lose a sense of control over whether or not your brand consistency is maintained between franchise locations.
However, there are simple and practical ways to overcome these hurdles, as well believe there’s plenty to gain by creating unique Instagram accounts for each franchise owner:
- Create brand guidelines to ensure your franchisee’s Instagram content is on-brand: by providing a clear set of guidelines for your visual identity and tone of voice, you can ensure there is brand consistency between locations on Instagram.
- Share assets and resources with locations: to streamline the social media workflows for your franchise locations, it can be helpful to share on-brand company assets (such as graphics, images and video content) that they can reshare on their Instagram pages.
- Provide Instagram and social media training for franchisee teams: another practical way you can support your local teams to deliver an exceptional customer experience on Instagram is to train these business owners in social media best practices. This could mean running a live training session or providing a clear set of instructions or resources to teach them how they should share content, how to write on-brand captions and more.
Ultimately, it all comes down to your business structure and goals when deciding whether or not to create individual Instagram accounts for your franchisees. While it can be more time-intensive to manage, these accounts can help to solidify your businesses as the go-to option in your local markets with a strong, purposeful Instagram presence.
7 best-practice ways to use Instagram for franchises
Ready to build your Instagram marketing strategy? Let’s run through seven practical strategies your franchise can use to win business, grow your customer base and engage with local customers.
1. Create location tags for each of your franchisee’s locations
One of the easiest organic ways to boost the reach and visibility of your brand with your local community is to take advantage of Instagram’s location tags. Every post that your franchise and franchisees share should be tagged with the relevant store location to help local residents discover your businesses.
If you’re launching or establishing a new local franchise, it’s worth using the nearest local suburb tag on Instagram.
However, if you’re wanting to encourage customers to share their experience in your stores on Instagram, it’s worth creating a location tag that’s linked to each local franchise. This will help to collate all the posts shared about each individual franchise and build trust with new, potential customers.
2. Add branded hashtags to your franchisees’ Instagram posts
Another powerful way to boost the visibility of your businesses’ content on Instagram is to use branded hashtags. By creating one branded hashtag for your business, you can collate every post shared by your franchisee’s on Instagram.
Plus, you can encourage your customers to use this hashtag when sharing user-generated content on Instagram. You can promote this hashtag in the bio of each of your Instagram accounts or print it and display in-store on displays and packaging.
3. Use your logo as the profile image for all franchisees’ Instagram accounts
A simple yet effective way to ensure brand consistency across all your Instagram accounts is to ensure every franchisee uses your logo as your Instagram profile image.
While this tip can seem obvious, many big brands don’t ensure every franchisee is using the same logo for every local page on social media.
By applying your logo consistently you can retain your brand’s memorable look and feel and build brand awareness with new customers at scale.
4. Ensure every franchisee is using your brand guidelines
In a similar vein, another practical way to ensure brand consistency is to share brand guidelines with every team across your franchise network.
This should include your brand colours, fonts, how to apply your logo and even guidelines around what kind of images are on-brand and off-brand.
To take this a step further, you can even create a range of customisable graphic templates in Canva and share these with your franchisees. This will help speed up their content creation workflow and give you greater control over how your brand is represented on Instagram.
5. Promote your franchisee’s Instagram account on your main Instagram account
If you’re struggling to grow the social media accounts following of one of your franchisee locations, this next tip can come in handy. Whether you’re launching a new location or establishing an existing spot, promoting these locations on your main franchise Instagram account can help to organically grow these channels.
Chances are your main Instagram account will have many more followers than your individual franchisee accounts. So, make a considered effort to spotlight a range of your locations and encourage your audience to follow them.
You could even consider launching a content pillar on your main channel that gives your audience a snapshot of every location you have across the country (or the globe). Not only does this boost the visibility of your franchise locations but also shows the scale of your operations to boost brand awareness and trust.
6. Ensure each franchisee has up-to-date contact information on their Instagram account
One of the biggest mistakes franchisees can make on Instagram is this: not having up-to-date contact details easily accessible for customers. A huge portion of Instagram users connect with local businesses as a customer service tool. So, it’s your job as a franchisor to make sure every location has these details up-to-date.
Plus, it’s also important to ensure your Instagram accounts are taking advantage of Instagram’s contact buttons. Depending on the industry you’re working in, this button might let users call your locations, visit their website or even find directions to their nearest store.
This is a simple step you can take to boost the chance of local customers visiting your stores and having a positive experience with your brand.
7. Provide branded assets for any company-wide campaigns
Last, but not least, is our final tip to help you nail your social media management as a franchisor: give your franchisees access to brand assets for your upcoming campaigns.
Whether you’re running a company-wide sale or want to give your local teams access to assets for local events, this tip is all about taking the hassle out of posting consistent content to social media platforms, like Instagram.
By getting your head office team to design on-brand graphics, you can ensure every local franchisee will be sharing punchy, memorable content to social networks (like Instagram) at the same time.
And that’s a wrap! When it comes to succeeding as a franchise on Instagram, it’s all about having guidelines, systems and workflows in place to retain brand consistency on social media. With brand guidelines and templates in place and a clear strategy at a franchise level, you can ensure Instagram becomes a powerful channel to build brand awareness and drive sales for your franchise business.