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Social media is many companies’ window to the world. Potential franchisees and customers look and learn through social media accounts, and companies learn about their customers when they peer in. Therefore, it is essential your social media accounts are flawless, active and give the entrepreneurially minded a desire to work with you, and a customer to buy your product.
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Words by Raghav Patel, digital content writer at Global Franchise
Many of us spend hours upon hours scrolling down newsfeeds. Therefore, it is no surprise that social media has become a core part of any company’s marketing activities today. Whether it’s customers or new business partners, they are likely browsing their favorite social media platform for some news and light entertainment.
Therefore, it is essential to maintain some kind of social media presence to let people know your franchise is alive and kicking. With even the smallest start-ups posting on daily basis, there is no excuse for a dead social media account.
Consumers look for the signs of competency and know-how; potential franchisees or business partners look for the same, but more. They want to see a franchise making full use of the free, amplifying tools that social media are.
An active account that regularly replies to consumers, addresses their concerns and shares in their joy make for a strong brand. Strong brands are the lifeblood of franchising, and potential franchisees would much rather start a business with a strong brand than a poorly managed one.
We’ve compiled a simple list of do’s and don’ts for your business to follow to maximize your leads and franchisee growth.
Keep your account active! There is nothing worse than opening up an account to see the last post was made two years ago. It doesn’t need to be particularly extensive. If you’re without a defined strategy, three or four posts a day is enough to let people know your business is up and running.
“They should be on larger social media channels. I understand if some businesses don’t want to be on Tik Tok yet,” said Patrick Crawford, senior vice president of strategic marketing at Scorpion.
“But still, you should be present [on larger social media channels], let people know that you understand this game, this landscape and these channels.”
Franchisees should be encouraged to maintain active pages too to keep their local community aware that the location is always active and fresh in the mind. What’s more, it takes little effort to schedule a handful of posts every day on your social media business accounts.
Don’t let your page die! Don’t go weeks, months and years between posts. It conveys a bad message to the consumer and potential franchisee, that you aren’t focussing entirely on the franchise. It harms your credibility when someone’s first impression of your franchise is that it’s had nothing to say for months or years in many cases. Remember, social media is a window. There has to be something in the window!
“I think when you’re not posting, people ask, are you even active? That definitely starts to plant a deeper seed of that mistrust and doubt,” added Crawford.
Post with a great deal of variety. Nail down five or six different types of posts that will feature on your social media pages, and rotate them. Many food franchisors simply post images of their food. Whilst this goes some way to making mouths water, it does little to attract a potential franchisee. Users can get tired of the same type of post month after month; therefore, it is essential to spice it up.
“I think it’s really important. It’s also challenging at the same time. Companies, a lot of the time want to stick to what they know,” said Crawford.
“But I think people also expect variation. Because if you’re posting the same thing over and over again, or very similar things, it starts to get ignored.
“If you see the same thing, it’s becomes watered down, it’s easy to miss skip over and not pay attention, unlike a bit of variation that pops in and automatically draws your eye.”
A chicken franchisor, for example, can share news of new locations opening up. Going further, recording and sharing clips of food being produced or images of happy customers simply enjoying their meal can do a lot for a brand’s image and value.
Different platforms expect different types of posts. Facebook is more community-based and intimate, whereas Twitter provides more of that window and slightly more one-way communication. LinkedIn is an important avenue to manage as that can be where many potential franchisees first conduct research. Keeping LinkedIn business-focused gives the correct impression when coupled with how other channels are managed.
Waste time on small platforms without a strategy. Hootsuite’s 2021 Digital Trends report showed that most social media platforms do not have many unique users. The vast majority will have accounts on all platforms; therefore, it is essential most of the effort is directed towards the largest social media platforms. Spending the same amount of time on Twitter as you do on Pinterest, for example, is a waste of time since most Pinterest users will be on Twitter too.
“We mainly utilize Facebook and Instagram, with some LinkedIn for franchise development purposes. We want to know we are heading into areas where our core audience lives,” said Autumn Lew, vice president of marketing at Just Between Friends, a consignment sale franchise based in the U.S.
Interact with your customers. It takes little to no time out of the day to like a comment or share a post. The effect of this is that customers feel a part of the brand, and that it listens to them. It also encourages others who enjoy your brand’s offering, to interact with it online.
“I think it is very important that you’re actively engaging with your audience, that’s really where you can take advantage of these channels to help you grow,” said Crawford.
Social media has grown to the point that your customers are guaranteed to be on it in some way, as well as your leads, who may research a franchise using its social media accounts.
“Our target audience for both franchise development and consumer marketing are in social media regularly and for extended periods of time. That has allowed us to develop relationships and following with our communities,” said Lew.
Responding to grievances and negative comments matters too. Dealing with the grievances of customers generates the image of a positive, pro-active brand that seeks to fix problems before they can balloon into something greater.
Potential franchisees will be more likely to get on board with a brand that actively manages its reputation and engages its customers.
Ignore your customers. Whether they’re expressing joy or rational, reasonable anger with a poor experience or product, it cannot be ignored. Modern consumers look for more than simple competency and a cheap price point; they want to feel connected to a brand.
One-way communication does not serve this goal, and franchisee leads are likely to be discouraged by the brand’s perceived lack of interaction. Franchisees do not and should not be expected to put in the legwork on social media if it is the remit of the franchisor.
Offer your customers promotions and offers to keep them truly engaged. Comments, likes and shares are one thing, but the end-goal is to drive customers to your business. Promos are a fantastic way of killing two birds with one stone, increasing long-term customer engagement and increasing sales. Customers who make use of a promotion once are likely to check in again.
These types of promos and offers are attractive to franchisees. It makes it easier for them to hit the ground running and more quickly develop a loyal customer base who enjoy the service/product as well as the social media offering. Data from 2017 showed that 75 per cent of people buy a product after seeing it on their social media feeds and 57 per cent are likely to buy from a brand they already follow.
The franchise requires promoting too, showing off the strength of the concept and the ease with which franchisees are managing their new businesses.
“Once someone sees and experiences one of our sales, there is a natural “Hey, I could do this!” response that wells up for some,” said Lew.
“Social media allows us to have conversations and relationships with our communities, including those who want to be more of a part of our franchise system through ownership.”
Mix up the central franchisor and franchisee accounts. Accounts should be clearly marked and easy to find for customers. Certain franchises allow franchisees to offer their own, personalized discounts and promotions, it’s essential that people can find their local location and interact with it, instead of directing everything to a central account that may not connect too well to the customer.
Central, headquarter accounts can be used for more lead generation as opposed to simply using it to push out new marketing material, news and promotions.
The use of social media is a fundamental, but many fail to utilize it effectively. Small franchisors often cite their size and inability to devote time to their social media channels, but this is a fragmented approach to business. Social media is the modern-day word-of-mouth, it can’t be ignored.
“We have a brand that began and became successful, mostly utilizing word of mouth recommendations,” added Lew.
“Now that social media is here, our success has grown as an extension of that prior form of grassroots, a friend telling a friend. Plus, our core demographic lives in social media.”
Social media is your digital, shopfront window. A lack of social media is just a solid, brick wall; nobody can look in unless they decide to walk in.
A holistic approach is what is needed. Core operations of the franchise can never be neglected, but devoting half an hour of the day to schedule some basic posts can have an outsized effect, especially on fledgling franchises that haven’t gained any authority or trust.
When the franchise has reached a certain level, more time can be devoted to social media until a dedicated marketing department or social media strategist can take over and leverage those platforms to bring in those needed franchisee leads and new customers.
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