Social media use has exploded in the past 10 years. For business, it has especially changed how we reach consumers. As social media constantly evolves, the world of franchising is still grappling with how best to utilize “the new word of mouth.”
From the perspective of franchisees, there are several options for social media. Managing a “fan page” for their local business is a great way to connect with customers. This is ideal for local information and offers targeted directly to their business community. Several companies (such as Buffalo Wild Wings – http://on.mash.to/1Cngwx8) utilize the “local location” social media strategy, but one size does not fit all. Some questions to consider before adopting a social media strategy:
- What is the nature of your business? – The nature of your business will go a long way towards determining the nature of your social media presence. A restaurant franchise’s social media platform will look much different than an urgent care franchise. Where a restaurant might be pushing a deal on a specific product, an urgent care might be posting when they will start offering flu shots, or current wait times for a doctor.
- Will the franchisee be able to manage a page on their own? – With all of the responsibilities of getting a franchise up and running and then operating, it’s possible that managing a social media page might be too much for the franchisee. There should be a plan in place to address whether or not a location page is a good fit.
- If they can manage, how much control will franchisees have? – This is something the franchisor needs to have planned out early. The franchisor will have the best idea of the desired image for the franchise, but the franchisee may have the best idea about what reaches their local audience.
From the perspective of the franchisor there is much unknown about social media’s effectiveness for franchise sales. It is true more franchisors are using social media as a sales tool, but its primary function is still about engagement. As a result, it is difficult to say how many franchise sales can be directly attributed to social media. The question everybody is trying to figure out is “How can I make social media work for franchise sales?”
To answer this question, there are several other questions to consider as well.
- Which social networks yield the best results? – Each social network has its own target audience, which means some won’t be your best bet for recruitment. Networks like Twitter or Pinterest use casual language, and are focused around interaction and sharing experiences or photos. LinkedIn, however, is formal and business oriented. Facebook’s sheer volume of active users (1.11 billion active users each month – http://yhoo.it/1i02tpS) is reason enough to utilize Facebook as a tool.
- How do I connect with users? – LinkedIn and Facebook both have solutions to connect with your target audience. LinkedIn has many different groups with people who share similar interest; a quick search for “groups about franchises” yields more than 200 results. Facebook not only allows you to start a page promoting your franchise, you can purchase Facebook ads to target a specific audience.
- How do I stand out? – One method to consider is the use of video. YouTube is already one of the largest search engines in the world, and video results can improve SEO. Plus, videos provide a much deeper sense of engagement than plain text. A video explaining your franchise and how to become a part of it can have powerful results. Facebook ads are also a good tool. They are inexpensive and allow you to target the type of person you want.
Social media and its use within franchises has a wealth of untapped potential. Tell us your thoughts on social media and its uses in franchising in the comments below, or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WeiseCommunications?ref=br_tf