Social Media Marketing for Franchises
Some brands are instantly recognizable. Hear their names or see their logos, and you know them instantly. They have a national (or even global) customer base. Then there are local businesses which are favorites within their communities. Say the name of a small family-owned restaurant, and your neighbor likely knows it. Big-name brands are marketed on social media. So are many local businesses. But what about a franchise? You know, that small place on the corner that is noticeable because of the well-known brand logo outside? What about their social media marketing?
The frustration of being a franchise business.
The franchise business, it may be said, is something of a hybrid: It represents a renowned brand that has set up shop in a local town or city. This makes marketing – particularly social media marketing – very tricky. As Jacob Smith points out in Ignite Social Media, a franchise business has the recognition of a “single global handle” across many social media channels. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. The obvious advantage is the familiarity which potential customers already have with the brand. The disadvantage – or question – is how can the owner of said franchise business have some degree of individuality?
But first things first. Each franchise must maintain brand recognition as the common denominator.
Keeping each franchise business aligned with the overall brand identity.
A franchised brand has many social media pages: one for the main “parent” brand, and many that correspond to the different locations where each franchise business is located. Any and every owner of a franchise business must follow and maintain the tone and identity of the parent brand. The corporate headquarters of the brand are the base that the owner (a.k.a. “franchisee”) of each franchise reports to. This base looks after and helps the franchisees. An established “social toolkit” or “playbook” must be implemented (and updated, when necessary) by brand headquarters so that every franchisee will communicate the proper voice and identity when engaging in social media marketing. Mr. Smith refers to this as “streamlined guidance,” where consistent content and messaging is carried out by all franchisees.
Listen locally on social media.
Franchisees should also give thought to setting up social listening tools as a way to help their corporate headquarters efficiently handle and address everything from customer complaints to thanking them when they respond positively about their experience. The sooner the customer is responded to, the better – especially in the community where the franchise business is located. If not, word-of-mouth – the oldest form of advertising – will negatively impact the franchise’s chances for success with social media marketing.
Oh, and another point: By employing social listening tools to answer customers quickly and as personally as possible, a franchisee is taking the first step to making his or her goal of establishing a certain individuality come true.
David Webb, writing for Social Media HQ, lists two additional practices which can help a brand franchise stand out in its respective location.
Having strong “buyer personas” has always been an effective tactic. And franchisees are actually in a position to further sharpen and define personas through social media marketing, since they interact with customers who frequent their establishments on a face-to-face basis. This particularly ties in with the need to actively be in touch with the social listening tools mentioned above. The better an idea the franchisee has of who their customers are, the better the relationship between them.
Localizing the franchise business.
In addition to promoting their brand, franchisees should use social media marketing to post content that relates to the local community. By getting to know the pulse of the town or city where they conduct businesses, the franchisee will become better integrated with the residents (read: customers). And the brand – regardless of how famous it is – will become part of the neighborhood. Activities such as showing support for other small businesses and sponsoring charities also help make a favorable impression.
The owner of a franchise business faces something of a tightrope walking act, in that he or she must maintain the core message of the brand while making their own place of business unique. If they can manage and eventually master this combined process, the benefits – to the brand, the neighborhood locale of the franchise, and the franchisee – will be great.
EGC Group has provided social media marketing services to businesses of all kinds, many of which include franchises, in fields ranging from retail to healthcare. Contact us today to find out how we can help promote your business through social media marketing.