Franchises are everywhere. From your hair salon, to fast food restaurant, to your gym or childcare facility; chances are your most frequented businesses are franchises. While some franchises are household names other up and comers have just barely cracked the surface of the franchise market.
Being in the Social Media business it was shocking to see the lack of Social Media among franchises and worse, franchisees; especially those that were new and not yet household names.
It was when I was trying to reach out to a local franchisee on social about an account question that I realized, they had no social media presence! Zip. When I researched the main franchise’s social media account (on Facebook) it was mostly unattended and just sporadically updated. NOT Good! Unfortunately, when I decided to go down the rabbit hole of franchise Social Media I discovered that this particular franchise was not alone in a completely lacking a social media presence. Franchises and their franchisees have an almost universal issue, bad social media. The question is , why?
What can Social Media do for your Franchise?
Social media is a tool that serves many purposes for small business like franchise owners. From generating buzz to brand advocacy, customer loyalty, marketing, and customer service; a strong social media presence can go a long way in helping a small business be successful offline from online efforts. Franchises spend a lot of money on traditional marketing like coupons, TV and Radio spots, billboards etc.. but for many franchise owners online marketing is a gaping hole in the overall marketing strategy with franchises; it it is probably hurting your business or at least dampening your success. If your franchise is socially absent or if you have been putting off social for your business, getting a presence on the major social platforms could be the missing piece for your business’ success.
Franchise Social Media Marketing Challenges
When you open a franchise chances are you will be required to use goods and materials provided by the franchise. From ovens, to cash registers to marketing materials – you are obligated to use company provided materials in running your franchise business. If the Franchise does not produce social media content to be redistributed you might be out of luck. Part of the problem is that franchises want to maintain a consistent brand image and discourage franchisees from developing their own marketing materials, online, print, radio etc.. If your franchise doesn’t provide social media marketing guidelines and materials you may be out and out prevented or limited in creating your own marketing materials.
The other Social Media Marketing Challenge is that Franchise owners have limited knowledge and experience in social media, not unlike other non-franchise small business owners. Time for social media may also be a factor. Content creation and distribution are also common challenges for business owners. It’s unrealistic to expect that any small business owner can manage every aspect of their business, of which, social media plays a critical role for acquiring new customers and fostering customer loyalty. Many small business owners ignore social media, in fact 10% of small businesses have no presence on social media at all an 58% struggle with maintaining their social media profiles and are inactive on social accounts.
Solving the Social Media Challenge
Franchises can easily adapt print media to social media content and redistribute it to their franchisees to market their individual businesses. While investigating franchises, potential franchisees should question the availability of these marketing materials in the franchise agreement.
Franchisees can localize these franchise produced materials on social media and adapt them to their market by using geo-specific key words in their social posts and targeting local customers on social via ads as well as reaching out to local influencers in their market on social media.
For franchises that don’t provide marketing materials that can be used on social, franchisees should inquire about their ability to produce their own social media marketing materials. There are services which can adapt or create social media content and publish it to franchise’s social media accounts to streamline the process of social distribution of company produced marketing materials.
Even if marketing is strictly regulated by the franchise, franchisees can still create a social media presence for their business without this content. Memes, videos and customer produced content can be utilized in promoting the franchisee’s business. Social can also be used as a way to manage customer service issues and is an effective way of gauging the consumer’s sentiment regarding the business. In short, social media shouldn’t be ignored simply because the franchise does not offer support for it in the franchise agreement.
There are several services that provide options to the franchise owner and franchisees looking to promote the brand and the individual franchisee’s business on social media in a time and cost effective way. Social Report, for example, offers a low cost solution for distributing content across several social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. It also offers social listening to gauge consumer sentiment and monitor the web for customer issues easily. Other services like Beatrix App help to easily sort and socially distribute content that would be of interest to followers. Infusionsoft has several options for acquiring and managing contacts and converting leads to sales via social media for franchises and franchisees. And lastly, you can always engage the assistance of social media marketers to craft content that aligns with brand image and distribute it to franchisee’s for use in marketing their businesses.
Whatever option you choose it is important to know that Franchises, like any small business, can harness social media to promote not just the franchise brand but the individual franchisee’s business. Social media is a tool that all small business owners can use to promote their businesses locally, -with or without pre-prepared marketing materials. When over 10% of small businesses fail each year, having a strong social media presence can be an important factor in determining if you will be a successful franchisee and should not be ignored.