Social Media Tips for Franchisees
According to an International Franchise Association (IFA) report published September 2017, the global franchise sector will grow in 2018 at a rate faster than the overall economy for the seventh consecutive year. It reported that the franchise industry would increase economic output by more than 5% and grow franchise employment 3.1%.
One explanation for the franchising industry’s ability to outperform GDP growth is its grassroots social media practices. While franchisees are obligated to follow franchisor guidelines – meaning you can’t create your own strategy – you nonetheless have the ability to reach your local market and customers more successfully than other businesses.
In fact, social media highlights one of the primary benefits of local franchises, that of targeting customers with local promotions and posting content that’s directly related to local events. Social media allows franchises to capitalise on those advantages. However, it also has potential pitfalls, some of which have been previously discussed by Emma Sadlier, founder of The Digital Law Co. See here for the ethical and responsible use of social media, such as not expressing personal opinions or being discriminatory.
Why social media?
If you are in the food or retail franchise business, whether your business is active on social media or not, you can be sure that your guests/customers are tweeting, posting, and Instagramming about your business online. In this environment, you need to decide whether managing your social media profile is just another item on the increasingly long list of things-to-do, or whether social media is a priority to your business development.
A successful franchise social media campaign requires franchisees have some level of autonomy and the resources to market locally. If you don’t, you should advocate for this flexibility with your corporate office. A social media campaign is critical to any small business today, so prospective franchise buyers should enquire about this subject and closely review the franchise agreement when assessing franchises to invest in.
Key social media tips to franchisees:
- Invite your customers into the conversation with Twitter polls
- Retweet celebrity endorsements whenever possible
- Provide an interesting Instagram experience by posting your products in a creative way
- Appeal to local consumers with powerful video content that endorses your franchise values
- Utilise Facebook for quick and personal customer service
- Respond to online reviews – don’t just delete negative reviews but respond to them; if someone thanks you, thank them back. Create a transparent and friendly online persona
- Invite customer-generated content and share it – turn your customers into brand ambassadors by sharing their comments and photos online
- Offer exclusive coupons to social followers – reward your social media network for talking about your business
- Ask guests to be evangelists – social media is an opportunity to capitalise on relationships you’ve worked hard on to develop. If customers are happy with the experience with your business, as social media followers they will be happy to endorse your business
- Profile your employees to humanise the experience for customers
- Ask questions to engage followers – social media is also about listening to your followers. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a great way to create a two-way dialogue with your customers
Starting a vibrant social media campaign can seem like a daunting task, though the bottom line is that social platforms simply provide a direct line of communication with ordinary people, both existing and potential customers.
How to start a killer Facebook campaign
For franchises, Facebook can be the obvious place to experiment with paid advertising without costing a lot of time and money. Facebook offers an easy way for even the smallest company to start a targeted ad campaign, displaying your business content to Facebook users as they browse. You can, for instance, create ads to direct new customers to your Facebook page, ensure more users see your posts or send viewers to your website.
These campaigns are less expensive than traditional media ad buys. Done properly, Facebook ads can draw the public to your page and viewers to your website – and most important, create new customers. Remember, when you start engaging with customers on social media, all of your communications should align with your brand’s vision and mission.
Designing your campaign
Ask yourself the following elementary questions to guide this process:
- Who’s your audience? Different social networking sites can help you reach various audiences, so it’s important to recognise who you are trying to woo to your business.
- What’s your social media message? Tailor an appropriate message to that audience, change your tone and vocabulary accordingly and ensure you stay within guidelines provided by your franchisor.
What your franchisor will be responsible for
- Clearly communicating your brand’s vision and mission
- Providing guidelines on social media campaigns
- Automating processes whenever possible
- Monitoring the group’s social media channels
- Monitoring your competitors
Therefore, you don’t need to take on these responsibilities.
In conclusion: be sociable!
The final tip for your social media marketing campaign is to remember that the operative word is ‘social’. It’s an opportunity for your business to interact with your customers. So don’t just post, engage. If a particular thread generates interaction, join it and engage with customers. Treat every customer interaction as an opportunity to improve relationships. Remember, it’s a conversation.