Whether franchisor or franchisee, operating a social media presence comes with considerations not necessary for stand-alone brands. How can you keep your franchise’s brand unified on social media when you have to contend with multiple locations, stakeholders and audiences?
Learn how to put all the pieces together to create a successful social media marketing plan for your franchise.
What is a franchise?
In case you’re joining us from outside the franchise world, here’s a little background.
Unlike a parent company that can manage all its business locations, franchises are independently owned and operated. Franchise chain locations may look identical, but are owned individually or in groups by individuals or companies that license all the branding and methods from one central franchisor.
Franchising is an appealing form of business to many because it allows entrepreneurs to buy into an existing, proven model with an existing customer base and brand. With a franchise, the day-to-day management of operations and most of the branding and marketing are run by separate entities. That means there can be stakeholders with competing interests who are not necessarily on the same org chart.
Many locations one message:
We’ve previously written about the value of creating content for specific social channels. Having a franchise adds an additional layer to the content creation process. Not only do you have to create content tailored to each social channel, you also need content for each location of your franchise.
Franchising agreements contain detailed provisions regarding what franchisors can do in terms of social media promotion. Before doing anything, a social media manager must be familiar with the agreement. In addition, a social media manager should know who to speak to at their counterpart’s office regarding approvals, sharing assets and crisis management.
If franchisees are allowed to partake in social media, they face the challenge of trying to grow a following for their location while adhering to the guidelines of their franchise owner. Either way, all franchisees should establish clear social media guidelines above and beyond what the franchisor requires.
It can be a challenge for franchisors to create content that is in line with the brand’s overall messaging and relevant for individual locations. Franchisors also have to decide if they will be in total control of social media or the extent to which individual locations can participate.
Clearly, laying out rules can help avoid social media snafus and provide direction regarding what to post.
What are your social goals?
Once you determine who can do the posting you need to figure out what to post. Beyond raising awareness of your brand, what do you want to achieve with social media? Do you want to attract customers to franchise locations, court potential franchise purchasers, perhaps both?
To figure out your social media goals start with your company’s business goals. Let’s consider the questions above – if you’re trying to get customers in the door you can create a Facebook offer claims ad and generate interest by offering a discount. If you’re trying to attract franchise investors, LinkedIn’s search features can pinpoint the right contacts by location, job function and even alumni connections.
Get to know your audience:
When you have solidified your social goals you next have to learn about the audience you’re going after. We suggest creating customer personas which will help you determine how to reach your audience and understand their needs. Empowered with this information, you can create content tailored which will be more likely to resonate with your audience.
Adding information from social media to your personas can provide insight into behavior on different social networks, content consumption patterns, and how social media influences purchase behavior.
When you understand your audience you can create social listening projects to gain deeper insights. Social listening gives you access to data from millions of touch-points. With that information you can zero in on anything topic and measure conversations across the web. The possibilities to turn all of this data into proactive strategies are endless.
Social media listening gives any type of business invaluable insights into customer trends and buzz, as well as to what competitors are doing.
Time to get organized:
Once you have nailed down your social goals and gotten to know your audience it’s time to get organized. Within Falcon’s Publish Calendar, you can align your social activity with the rest of your marketing efforts by marking important dates, setting reminders and adding stock content to campaigns. It’s a place for all stakeholders to see their responsibilities as part of a larger, harmonious whole.
It’s crucial to use a content calendar, especially considering the potential for confusion when you’re trying to manage multiple franchise locations.
Falcon’s content pool enables franchises with multiple regional channels to edit and save posts. If you’re divvying up social media management tasks and allowing individual locations to post content you can take comfort that all imagery in the content pool can be saved and pre-approved.
Diverse teams and locations can use the same content calendar to share resources and ensure quality, governance and consistency.
Also, when each post is created, it can be submitted for approval to guarantee each message is on brand and appropriate for each channel. This governance flow will help maintain an efficient workflow. No need to get lost in spreadsheets and bogged down by email chains.
Finally, submitted posts can be scheduled and will populate the content calendar so you can have a view of your content plan at a glance.
End-goal: a unified, positive customer experience
Whether you have two locations or 200, social media can be challenging on either side of a franchise agreement. Though the public is meant to see only one uniform brand, there are many players behind the scenes who all have to sing the same tune. With the right organizational tools and marketing policies, franchisors and franchisees can deliver consumers a seamless experience.