Megan Redzia - 02/04/2014
Social media has changed the way consumers connect with companies as well as communicate with their peers regarding their experiences with products or services. Companies in all industries are embracing this shift and to properly leverage social media’s full marketing benefits,they must initially develop a corporate strategy.
This can be an arduous task even when all communications are generated from a central office. So just imagine the unique challenges franchisors face when trying to implement a universal social media strategy with their franchisees.
Do you pursue a centralized or decentralized approach to social media? If you allow franchise locations to have their own pages, how do you maintain brand consistency?
There’s a case to be made for both of these strategies and a decision should be based on a franchisor’s unique system, customer demographics, industry regulations and resources. If you decide to empower franchisees to promote their individual locations through their own social media pages, it’s critical to implement clear policies and provide franchisees with the tools they need to succeed.
Here are six steps to establish a strong social presence on both the corporate and local franchise levels:
1.) Develop a strategy and plan. Don’t create social media business pages until you have clearly defined your objectives and understand where your customers are engaging in conversation. Sure you may like perusing Pinterest for recipe or fashion ideas (guilty as charged) but will this platform help to achieve your business goals? Include a team of franchisees in the strategy and planning process to ensure you understand their local goals and needs.
2.) Deploy resources. Once you have identified what you are trying to achieve, consider what resources you will need to bring the program to fruition. Implementing and monitoring a franchise social media program requires a designated team of content developers and managers, so be sure you have an in-house team or marketing agency allocated to this task.
3.) Establish policies. Clear and written policies should be developed to guide management of the corporate pages and individual location pages. We recommend that your policies include social media goals, a style guide, external regulations, interaction guidelines and best practices.
4.) Train franchisees. Franchisees are likely to be overwhelmed by the process of learning how to manage their social presence. Simplify this for them by offering a training program either in the form of webinars or in-person sessions. The frequency of the training should be based on your expansion rate to ensure all new franchisees have received training prior to opening their franchise.
5.) Provide tools. For our franchise clients, we offer instructional guidelines on setting up each social page on which the franchisor would like them to establish a presence; as well as a library of potential promotional topics, Facebook status updates, tweets and images. Providing franchisees with the tools they need helps to ensure consistency and makes it easier for franchisees to update their social pages regularly.
6.) Monitor activity. We all know that just because you offer the proper guidelines, training, and tools, doesn’t mean that each and every franchisee is going to follow them. Make sure you have the internal resources or a marketing agency to monitor activity and engagement on each local franchise social page. We always recommend using monitoring tools to strengthen this step such as Sysomos, Venuelabs and Radian6.
Empowering your franchisees to participate in social media can amplify the voice of the brand and offers franchisees the opportunity to connect with their customers and build relationships. To learn more about how 3E Public Relations can help your franchise succeed on social media, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973.263.5197.