The appeal of an established brand and the efficiency of a proven system make franchises very attractive to franchisees and customers alike. Both franchisee and customer know that they can get the same quality service or product consistently if the franchisor remains committed to their brand.
However, social media is changing the game. Small business owners who have custom built their menus and business philosophies to serve their local communities are gaining an edge. Social media has made it possible for them to match the marketing reach of larger franchises too. Similarly, social media users also want more personal interactions with a brand they follow, and the robotic efficiency of franchises may be doing more harm than good.
There’s no question that franchisors, their corporate marketing team, and franchisees must work together to utilize the power of social media and tap into their local audience. Below are 6 different ways your franchise can be more effective at marketing to the local crowd on social media.
Set Social Media Management Guidelines
As a franchisor, you set standards for your business that every franchisee must adhere to. If you are in the food and beverage industry, cleanliness and quality customer service are standards everyone must meet.
In that context, you must set clear guidelines for the social media management strategy of every franchisee in order to get the best results. Will your corporate marketing team control all posts published in all pages? Do you let franchisees openly post without prior approval from corporate or do their posts need approval before they are released on social media?
Note that there are pros and cons in controlling all the content or letting franchisees do what they want. On one side, only using marketing assets from your corporate team can help build brand consistency. On the other hand, it may alienate the local customers served by your franchisees and you could lose their loyalty.
Whatever guidelines you create, just make sure that they are clear to avoid frustration between you, your corporate team, and your franchisees.
Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is key to any effective social media strategy. Customers expect a more personal relationship with brands they follow on social media and are weary of cookie cutter interactions.
Luckily, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide metrics that help you identify your audience’s demographics including their age, marital status, education, and educational attainment. In addition, many platforms provide information regarding the interests and habits of your followers.
With advanced social analytics from Social Report, you can effortlessly collect all of your franchise’s social media metrics in one place and easily organize data from your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. Plus, you can view your competitor’s data and see what type of audience they cater to. This is extremely helpful in identifying your audience if your franchise has a multitude of accounts on different social platforms.
Engage with Your Customers
Engaging with your customers on social media is integral if you wish to gain the business and loyalty of a local audience. This includes a concerted effort between your corporate team and your franchisees to answer questions, respond to concerns, and join conversations.
According to Social Media Today, 67% of consumers go to social media to resolve issues with a brand. It’s important to not leave customer concerns in your inbox or wall if you want to earn the loyalty of local customers. If you fail to resolve issues, customers who already follow your brand on social media may take their business elsewhere.
To avoid missing out on important conversations and easily delegate communication tasks, try Social Report's Smart Social Inbox. The Smart Social Inbox feature lets you find conversations from all your social accounts in one convenient place. This ensures that you never miss out on engaging with your customers, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
Certain interactions need not be difficult. If customers having trouble finding one of your locations, have a reply handy with the address, phone number, and a google maps link to that location. Customers tag you on their tweets?
Retweet the photo and give them a big thanks. For less specific concerns, you can also enable automation, so your page can automatically do follow backs on Twitter or likes on Facebook without your supervision.
Find Your Strength
Facebook has nearly 2 billion monthly active users, while Instagram and Twitter combine to add another billion. Simply, the reach of social media platforms is vast and caters to a diverse audience. What works with one of your franchise’s local community may flop in another, so it’s essential to figure what types of posts work for each locale.
Like your audience, you can find statistics about your social pages with social analytics. Are your video marketing assets getting more likes, comments, or shares compared to images? Use analytics to find your top-performing posts and make more of them.
Is Facebook giving you more results than Instagram? Analytics can also help you track which platform consistently gives you the best results, so you can focus your efforts there and stop wasting valuable resources on the social platforms that don’t work.
Experiment with Different Strategies
If your social strategy just isn't clicking with your audience in a certain locale, don’t be afraid to experiment with new ways to get your customer’s attention.
Much like how you test new ways to better your competition, you must also try out new ways to keep your audience engaged on social media. Facebook carousel photos, Instagram Stories, Twitter threads, are just some of the newer features that brands have utilized to make their social pages more interesting to their audience.
You can also try running ads. Facebook's powerful advertising features provide plenty of options that can give a franchisee's page a much-needed boost. Learn about Facebook ads features for your business in 2018 here.
Millions of tweets, status updates, photos, and more are uploaded daily across all social media platforms, so there's a lot of competition for your audience's eyes. Similarly, algorithm-based feeds, over chronological, mean it’s getting harder to reach your audience especially if you’re still growing your followers.
That's why it pays to be consistent on social media. A consistent stream of content from your social accounts increase the chance of your audience to see and like, comment on, or share them. It can be a challenge to regularly post especially during the holidays, when you’re busy making sure franchisees are meeting demand.
You can take some of the pressure off by scheduling social media posts in advance. Scheduling makes it easy to post on social media without having to constantly be in front of a computer. Similarly, you can choose to post a specific content piece multiple times during the course of the year, which is ideal for promoting your franchise's future events or promotions.
There is a need for franchisors and franchises to collaborate on social media efforts to help reach their target audience. When it comes to local customers, there isn't an across the board solution to social media success. Use the ideas above to springboard your strategy to tap in your franchise’s local audience.