As a franchise, promoting and building your brand consistently can be a challenge. With so many franchisees to manage, ensuring your reputation is safeguarded is more complex than most traditional business models.
There’s a reason why 42% of franchises no longer feel that traditional marketing channels (such as advertising, direct marketing and PR) are worthwhile. Instead, many franchise businesses are tapping into the power of social media marketing to grow their business, secure new franchisees and engage local communities at scale.
When managed correctly, social media marketing can allow franchisees to source, serve and satisfy their growing pool of customers across the country (or even the globe). However, it’s important to have a tailored social media strategy in place to ensure your brand’s messaging is consistent and compelling.
Let’s run you through how social media marketing can benefit from franchises, the challenges you might come up against plus a stack of practical steps to execute your own social media strategy.
How can does franchise social media marketing work?
With close to 1 million franchises operating in the US alone, cutting through and remaining competitive has never been a bigger challenge for franchise businesses.
That’s why so many businesses are turning to social media and digital marketing as a cost-effective way to reach new customers, grow new franchisee locations and offer customer service support at scale.
Rather than sinking thousands of dollars in traditional advertising, social media marketing gives franchise owners the ability to empower franchisee teams to market and promote their stores to their local community with ease. Plus, social media is the platform of choice for customers when they’re searching for a store’s contact information, opening hours and latest product releases.
Here are just a handful of ways franchises can use social media to grow and scale their business:
- Deliver timely customer service: did you know that 37% of social media users expect a response from the brands they contact within 30 minutes? By having a clear process in place for handling and responding to customer feedback and questions, you can build trust, boost your franchises’ perception and sow the seeds for customer loyalty, too.
- Encourage and reshare powerful social proof: by creating branded hashtags, location tags and an active social media presence, you can prompt your customers to reshare their in-store experience online. Plus, you can use these reviews, testimonials and other pieces of user-generated content to inspire potential customers to trust your franchise, as well.
- Keep your brand top-of-mind with potential customers: an active social media presence can help your franchisees reach new customers in their local community and remain top-of-mind. When they’re ready to make a sale, they’ll be more likely to remember and shop with your brand.
- Craft hyper-local content tailored to each franchisee’s location: plus, by giving your franchisee owners the opportunity to reach and connect with their local community, you can organically boost sales through social media. The key is to give each franchisee the flexibility to craft and share social media content that is tailored to their local community.
What are the benefits of social media for franchises?
As far as marketing channels go, social media is one of the most transparent and versatile, especially for franchise businesses. By developing a social media presence for your franchise you can improve your customer experience, solidify your franchise brand as a leader in your field and win trust with your target market at a local level.
Still not convinced? Here are three reasons why your franchise brand should add social media marketing into your brand building toolkit:
- Tap into the power of your franchise network: with multiple locations across the country (or even the globe), your franchisees can harness the power of the collective on social media to build influence, gain market share and drive sales in their local markets.
Whether locations team up for local events or your head office reshares content from individual franchise locations, the opportunities for organic discovery and growth are endless.
- Deliver a consistent brand experience across your business: with the right branded templates, social media guidelines and content marketing strategies in place, your franchise business can ensure every single franchisee is representing your brand in a compelling and on-brand way. All it takes is a bit of strategising and a clear social media plan to ensure every social media post, Reel and Story are aligned with your brand identity.
- Cost-effective channel to grow your franchise business: the biggest benefit of social media is that it is free to get started and launch social media profiles for your individual franchisees. Without the need to spend thousands of dollars on traditional advertising, you can redirect these funds into social media management, content creation and social media training to give your franchise owners the edge in their local businesses.
What challenges does social media pose for franchises?
But, there are a few drawbacks and challenges to consider when launching your franchise business on social media. Without the right strategy and framework in place, your franchise brand can become diluted and your social media presence can detract from your desired brand experience.
Here are three of the biggest obstacles franchises face when getting started on social media:
- Governance: one of the biggest challenges faced by franchise owners is the dilemma of how to monitor and manage a network of franchisees on social media. Without policies, content procedures and approved guidelines in place, it can be difficult to ensure every franchise owner is representing your brand in the right way on social media.
- Brand consistency: in a similar vein, keeping your visual identity cohesive and on-brand across a number of different locations on social media is another big challenge. Without clear strategies in place, your brand identity can easily become diluted and off-brand, making it difficult for customers to remember who you are.
- Resourcing: last, but not least, is the challenge of how to resource the demands of content creation on social media. Unless you have taken the time to plan out your content creation workflows and allocated resources to your franchisee locations, it will be a big challenge for your franchisees to post consistent content to social media.
However, all of these roadblocks can be overcome by having a winning social media strategy for your franchise business in place (more on that next!).
7 steps to craft a winning social media strategy for franchisors
Ready to nail your social media marketing strategy as a franchisor? We’ve rounded up seven practical tips to help you nail your marketing strategy, build brand awareness and empower your franchisees with the tools and resources they need to succeed.
1. Decide how your franchise is going to show up on social media
The first place to start when building your social media strategy as a franchisor is to decide how you’re going to manage your franchise’s social media presence. For some brands, having just one social media account (run by the head office marketing team) is a better way to retain autonomy, control and ensure the brand messaging is delivered consistently.
However, many franchisors want to empower their franchise locations to communicate directly with their local audience. In that case, creating individual social media profiles for each location makes a lot more sense.
So, what should you consider when deciding which option is right for you? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do my local franchises have the time and resources to manage a social media channel on their own?
- Will individual social media accounts improve or detract from my franchises’ customer experience?
- How will I ensure each local franchisee has the tools and knowledge to make the most of their marketing efforts on social media?
Ultimately, if your franchise locations have the scope and ability to manage their own social content and marketing campaigns, creating individual profiles will enable your brand to connect with multi-location audiences with ease.
2. Decide which social platforms are most appropriate for your franchise business
At the same time, it’s also important to consider what social media networks are the most appropriate for your franchise business. We recommend focusing on one or two social networks to avoid spreading your team too thin or becoming overwhelmed by a huge scale of social content creation.
Not sure which platform is right for your business? Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know:
- If you’re looking to showcase your products or service in a visual way and connect with local customers across the country (or globe): Instagram and Pinterest are both powerful visual platforms that can help your franchisee locations connect with local customers and get discovered through hashtags, location tags and user-generated content.
- If you’re looking to build trust using punchy, short-form video content: TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in 2021 and can help your franchisees to connect with younger audiences at scale.
- If you’re looking to connect with businesses, entrepreneurs or professionals: LinkedIn is the best platform for B2B marketing and can help your franchisees grow their business with professional content.
- If you’re looking to provide bite-sized customer service on-demand: Twitter is a fantastic platform for speedy customer service and timely complaint responses.
3. Set goals for your franchise on social media
Every social media strategy should put goals and objectives at the heart of your social media content. These goals are what will guide all your decisions around brand messaging, brand guidelines and even what content formats are best suited to your brand.
So, it’s important to develop realistic goals for your franchisees to strive towards as well as company-wide goals on social media.
The best way to set effective goals is to make them SMART (a.k.a. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound).
Plus, make sure to tailor your social media goals to each franchise location and the stage they’re at in their business journey.
4. Develop clear brand and tone of voice guidelines
To ensure your franchise business is presented consistently on social media, it’s important to develop a set of social media policies and brand guidelines. These frameworks are designed to take the guesswork out of creating content for social media and ensure every post or social media campaign is delivered cohesively across your franchisee network.
Your social media brand guidelines should cover everything to do with how your business is represented visually on social media, including:
- Your approved logos and submarks
- Your brand fonts and colours
- Your branded social media templates and graphic designs
- Do’s and don’ts for brand assets (such as graphics, photography and video content)
Plus, it’s worth crafting a set of tone of voice guidelines to give your franchisees’ content a consistent and aligned brand voice. These guidelines should explain:
- Your brand’s personality and value
- Your brand voice characteristics
- How formal or casual your language should be
- Examples, templates and frameworks for how to speak on social media (including how to respond to complaints, negative feedback or bad reviews)
These social media plans will streamline your onboarding process and make it easier for your teams to craft on-brand content for social media.
5. Create a centralised asset management system
Another smart way to govern your social media content across your franchisee network is to develop a bank of on-brand assets. These graphic templates, images, and videos should be shared across the network to speed up your team’s content creation workflows.
Make sure to include a mix of evergreen assets as well as content specific to social media campaigns that you might run throughout the year.
6. Build social media content workflows for franchisee teams
It’s also worth developing a range of processes and workflows for how you’re going to manage content creation on social media across your franchise business.
These guidelines should cover the entire social media marketing process from start to finish, including who is responsible for content creation at each franchisee location, who needs to review and approve posts and how content is scheduled and published to social media.
With a social media management tool (like Sked Social), you can manage this content creation workflow easily and at scale. With all your franchisee locations submitting content for review in one place, your head office marketing team can have great control and transparency over what each team is sharing with their local target audience.
7. Track and monitor your franchise’s performance on social media
Last, but certainly not least, is the final step of any winning social media strategy: putting KPIs in place to measure and track your performance.
While each franchise business will have different goals they’re working towards, here are a few handy metrics you should consider tracking on social media:
- Average Response Time: this percentage shows how quickly your team is responding to social media messages and enquiries. The aim is to provide timely answers to your current and potential customers to ensure everyone has a positive experience with your franchise.
- Reach: this metric shows how many social media users are viewing your content and how many potential customers are being exposed to your franchise.
- Engagements: this metric includes actions such as likes, comments, saves, and shares and shows how engaged your audiences are with your franchise locations on social media.
- Follower Growth: plus, it’s worth tracking the growth of your franchise accounts on social media to see how many local community members are being won over on social media.
And that’s a wrap! As you can see, social media marketing is a powerful tool for franchise businesses to grow and scale their network. With the right social media plan and strategy in place, you can ensure your franchisees share social content that accurately captures your brand identity and build brand awareness, interest and loyalty with ease.