With over 700,000 franchise establishments in the U.S., it’s evident the franchise industry is a major piece of the United States economy. But with today’s hyper-connected, digital world, many franchises are finding it difficult to obtain a foothold in eCommerce. Still more franchisees struggle with finding a way to differentiate their independent business from other nearby franchises, while still adhering to all the brand guidelines directed by their corporate franchisor
Enter social media. Half of the global population (3.8 billion users) use social media on a DAILY basis, and it has become the primary way that brands are interacting with both current and potential customers. Up until recently, engaging with a franchise brand in the digital realm has mostly meant interacting with corporate headquarters social media and generic outreach. While this is important for the overall consistency of their brand identity, it prevents individual branches from building individual rapport with their community and capitalizing on local trends and feedback.
This is why it’s crucial for franchise owners to up their social media marketing game. Social media can be leveraged to tell each franchise’s unique story, while boosting customer acquisition and retention. Additionally, franchisees can further penetrate their local market by targeting nearby customers with localized social media accounts that demonstrate they are actively focused on their community. When implemented correctly, franchisees can look forward to measurable results such as lead generation, brand education, and sales.
The Challenge in Finding Common Ground
You know the phrase “take the bitter with the sweet”? This maxim is alive and well in the franchise corporate culture. While franchisees benefit greatly from being housed under a well-known, established corporate brand, they can sometimes get lost in the weeds of the larger corporate identity. They also have different needs and goals in mind.
Executing a local social marketing strategy gets complex when your franchise brand has hundreds of locations across the country or throughout the world. Franchisors want to ensure brand standards are consistently used by their franchisees, and conflicts can arise if they feel a franchise location is deviating too far afield from their well-researched marketing strategy. Franchisors don’t want conflicting messaging out there that can confuse customers, and lead to poor customer engagement.
In order to ensure a seamless on-brand experience is presented, it’s best if the two work together. Establishing a workflow system and can assist both franchisors, franchisees and their respective teams create a cohesive social media strategy that meets the goals of every stakeholder. Workflows help franchisors communicate priority messaging and national or regional level campaigns and offers franchisees an easy way to notify corporate of local campaigns they’re running. It also provides a way for franchisees to give feedback on success they’re having with local campaigns, so that corporate can adapt and roll it out to other franchise locations.
Boosting Engagement and Awareness
Today’s consumer expects more than from the brands they buy from and the stores they recommend to their friends. 64% of today’s shoppers ages 26-48 indicate that they look at a store or restaurant’s social media channels prior to shopping there the first time, and 52% of Americans indicate that they are more loyal to brands that provide them with an interesting social media experience on their platforms. What does this tell us? A strong franchise reputation is important, but it’s not enough anymore.
If you think about it, a localized social presence connects with how a franchise functions, as they already have a strong impact on their local community. 90% of the income franchises generate stays within the local community, and a city with a population between 50k-70k has as much as 6% of their population employed by a franchise. Showing a commitment to your community is a key way to develop local patrons and a solid message to include in your social media posts. Hiring events, showing support for local school sports teams, highlighting the achievements of people in the community, or developing a special offer for first responders who work in the town are all ways a franchise can show they’re connected and a vital part of the city that houses them. By harnessing the power of a strong, involved social media presence, franchises can create brand evangelists in their community, awareness of what they do and what they offer, and reap the benefits.
Using Data-Driven Analytics
Social media is not just a one-way street; in order to ensure social media is working for you, you need to listen and respond to the needs and wants of your audience. This starts by making sure you have someone responding to comments and inquiries on your posts and doing so in a timely manner. It also means paying attention to analytics. Data-driven analytics tell you how your audience is interacting with your social media presence, what content they like to see and how often, and what platforms are working the best for you to achieve your overall goals. This is why analytics are critical to refine and monitor the success of your social media strategy.
Additionally, aligning your corporate and franchise goals with location-based analytics can help your brand improve your social media performance efficiently. Franchisors need at-a-glance metrics into each location’s social media performance. Franchisees can dive deeper into analytics such as engagement metrics, post-click breakdowns, and growth count to identify their local impact.
Viewing these KPIs is critical to the success of a location’s social media presence. Franchisees can leverage data for social content creation with the insights of what content resonates with their audience and measure the post-performance at the end. Franchisors on the other hand can quickly decipher which areas of their social media strategy a branch can improve on. When your brand’s decisions are data-driven, it can boost your brand’s social media reputation and performance tremendously, ultimately generating more brand awareness and conversions.
Franchise locations can be set up for social media success when they leverage a social media management tool and follow these steps to tell their own local story. Creating a strong social media presence is a fundamental aspect of a brand’s reputation and goes a long way in maximizing ROI, brand awareness, and brand loyalty.