10 Tips to Develop a Social Media Strategy for Your Franchise
Creating a social media strategy can be a challenge for any business, but when you’re making one for a franchise there are extra considerations to take into account. More than 55% of franchisers say social media is one of the most important marketing channels they have. The challenge is that franchises aren’t governed by the same rules as other businesses. Furthermore, even people who have a good idea of what franchising is aren’t always sure how the digital marketing strategy for a franchise must differ from that of a conventional company.
If you’re a new franchiser who wants to represent your brand effectively on social media at all levels, you probably have some questions about what will produce the best results. Don’t worry—we’ve put together a list of tips that clarify how to develop a strong social media strategy for your franchise.
- Know which social networks are best for certain purposes
Franchising can make your business a lot bigger, but it doesn’t mean you should be less specific. In fact, the larger your brand is, the more important it is to stay on message. Choosing social networks that will help you represent yourself effectively is a critical part of accomplishing this. For example: Facebook advertising may be excellent if you’re trying to boost your marketing ROI, but LinkedIn can be invaluable for B2B lead generation.
- Don’t overextend yourself
Some companies decide that they’re going to try doing it all, but that’s not advisable—even if you’re a national franchise. Try to maintain a presence on every social media platform out there, and you’ll more than likely end up underperforming on all of them.
Instead, choose three or four networks that are most likely to be used by your best customers. For example, you should know that 90% of Instagram users are under 35, and that searches for “how to” videos on YouTube increase by 70% every year. If you own a plumbing franchise, YouTube is a platform you won’t be able to ignore. If your franchise sells fast food to a millennial audience, Instagram’s a better bet.
- Set ground rules for all franchisees
Once you’ve settled on the social media networks you want your franchise to use, make sure you provide clear policies for your franchisees on the content they post.
Some franchisers opt for a “centralized” approach to social media, where they control everything from a single hub. This strategy can be useful for making sure all content stays on message, but it can also deprive your franchisees of opportunities to make meaningful connections with local customers.
Successful franchises usually opt to give their franchisees at least some level of control over what they post. You might manage the profiles for them, create most of their content at corporate, or simply provide guidelines and let them create the content themselves. The level of control you want is up to you.
- Include social media rules in all franchisee marketing packages
No matter what kind of social media strategy you decide on for your franchise, it’s essential that your franchisees are made aware of it. Be sure to provide clear explanations of all your social media policies in any marketing packages that go out to your franchisees, and send new versions whenever there are updates.
- Look out for rogue profiles
Giving your franchisees more control over what they post can reduce overhead and allow them to develop more authentic relationships with local customers, but it can also make you vulnerable. You’ll want to make sure that you’re checking in on your franchisees consistently, and that their content is always in line with your goals. Be especially mindful of franchisees who have large social media followings. In addition to being some of your most valuable locations, they also have the potential to be the most disruptive.
- Connect all locations to your main website
Whenever one of your franchisees sets up a social media account, it should include links to the main website for your company. After all, you don’t just want a successful franchise—you also want to cultivate brand loyalty. Connecting your franchisees to your main page isn’t all you’ll want to do, though. You should also make sure your main website has social network navigation tools to help visitors find their local locations.
- Become actively involved with your franchisees and their social media usage
Whether you’ve decided to create the content for all your franchisees or simply provide guidelines for them, it’s important to make sure you take an active role in their digital marketing. Follow your franchisees, and encourage them to follow you back. Use paid advertising to occasionally disseminate important information.
- Provide incentives for franchisees who use social media properly
How can you incentivize your franchisees to be proactive and responsible in their social media use? Simple: offer them something. Have contests that require participants to meet certain social media targets, and reward the winning franchisee with gifts.
- Analyze your social media metrics regularly
Data is your friend when you’re creating a social media strategy of any kind, and it’s no different when you’re franchising. You’ll want to know which of your franchises is the most effective, who their biggest customers are, and what their online habits are like.
Marketing analytics tools that help you measure traffic and conversion rates will be especially helpful in this regard. After all, you’re not just looking at the number of sales a franchise in your network makes in a given period—you’re looking at that number relative to the opportunity available in their area.
- Organize effectively with social media management tools
There are plenty of different analytics tools out there for individual users, but fewer that provide you with a centralized way to manage a large number of accounts and collect data from them. Tools like Sendible differ from standard analytics platforms by letting you manage whole teams of clients—or franchisees. You can use them to monitor posting activity for each franchisee, and generate comprehensible analytics reports that show you which ones are most effective. Sendible even has a feature that looks at your profiles and makes recommendations on what kind of content they should post next.
In your franchise agreement documents, you may want to include guidelines and suggestions for alternative ways franchisees can promote their individual franchises. Social strategies don’t have to require large budgets, especially if you give them strategies to promote themselves creatively.
Lastly, it’s important that you provide all of your franchisees with resources they can use to better understand franchising, so that they can place their responsibilities in the broader context of your business. Use the tips above to create and refine the social media strategy your franchise uses, and remember to stay closely connected to them through an app or service that helps you track their activity.
Franchising always means giving up a certain amount of control, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have effective digital marketing. In fact, if you set up your social media strategy properly, you might find that your franchise produces even better results with less effort on your part.