Franchises: Should you Have Local Social Media Accounts?

franchise-social-media

franchise-social-media

When we’re sitting down to brainstorm a social media campaign for a client, one of the first things that comes to mind is “how can we make sure this campaign is completely integrated into the existing marketing strategy?” One of the biggest challenges we face in this process is when working with franchises. From a strategic standpoint, it is essential for a franchise to be on social media, at least on the national level. However, many problems can arise when a franchise opens up social media communications to their local franchisees. We see some pros and cons to having local franchise social media accounts, and some suggestions for how to properly manage these communications.

Pros:

  • The ability to provide the audience with tailor made content. For example, Chick Fil A corporate could run a nationwide coupon for a sandwich. Whereas Chick Fil A Edgewater, MD could run a local coupon for a product that sells particularly well in the area. By knowing their target audience they are able to capitalize on what works in their region.
  • Having a Facebook or Twitter account gives the franchise the opportunity to breathe personality into their business and build a strong bond with the audience by promoting work they do within the local community.
  • A well maintained social media account will help to grow a business, and potentially increase revenue.

However, we have seen some badly managed social media accounts that can give the corporate headquarters a huge headache.

Cons:

  • As a franchise, you want your messaging to be as fluid as possible. When you have multiple different social accounts, run by many different community managers it can sometimes be hard to control the content.
  • One of the problems you can face is having a local social account that is pushing out content that is completely off brand and unprofessional.

Steps to Take:

Despite these setbacks, there are a few steps you can take to prevent off-brand messaging.

  • Start by developing national messaging for your local franchises to include in their regular content. Include your community managers in your planning so they are excited to push the content.
  • Send your community managers a social media marketing guide so that they know specifically what they can, and cannot post. In our experience in working with Phillips Seafood, we saw that providing a guide really helped to promote messaging consistency in franchisee social media content.
  • Finally, have a crisis communication plan in place. If something was to go wrong, you will have the steps prepared on how to handle the situation.

Allowing your local franchisees the opportunity to have their own social accounts can be a great marketing tool, but it’s not for everyone. Evaluate your current marketing plan and see if this strategy might work for your business.

Facebook Photos Drive Interaction

Facebook Post With Image

Ever since Facebook’s latest round of changes, we’ve been learning new tips and techniques to help increase levels of engagement on our clients’ pages. One easy way is to add an image to your posts. helping break up the monotony of the timeline structure. Check out Chik-Fil-A’s recent posting about their Cow Appreciation Day. The one below is a simple text post with a link. At first glance, 817 likes and 101 comments seems pretty good.

Facebook Post with No Image

But then, a post about the same event with an image, link, and clear call to action gets 1,794 shares, 3,533 likes, and 198 comments. Quite the difference!

Facebook Post With Image

With engagement being one of our main means of measurement and success, adding pictures into the mix of our content will help garner those important interactions while continually reaffirming brand identity and experience.

Facebook Timeline for Brands: The Good, The Bad, and the Promising

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It’s here! Marketers have been destroying their manicures for months now in anticipation of Facebook Timeline for brands, and what that will mean for their social media strategies. Now that it’s arrived, we know the answer  – a whole lot, if you’re willing to do it right.

Changes Coming Sooner than Later

Brands can opt into Timeline now, but it will be rolled out permanently for all Pages on March 30 – pretty soon! The biggest changes are the addition of the large Cover Photo (like Timeline for personal pages), new ways to feature content, and the Private Message capability between brands and users. Some challenges we’re presented with are the reduced visibility of tabs and the elimination of default landing pages for new visitors. Of course, the head honchos at Facebook think these elements are worth eliminating in favor of an approach that brings content like the Info section, photos, and apps front and center. Not to mention the new ways that ads will allow Facebook admins to more easily get their content in front of their fans. For all the details, Mashable has the complete guide to what’s new and what to do with all of it.

Reinforce Creativity and Strategic Messaging

One of the greatest strengths of the new Timeline for brands is the potential it holds for brands to get creative and use both the Cover Photo and content on their Timeline to communicate strategic messages. For example, we love Captain Morgan’s cover photo, and how it merges with the Profile Picture perfectly. The brand has clearly taken the opportunity to use the new space in a way that they couldn’t have with the old Pages.

Likewise, Burberry is maximizing their entire Timeline with lots of large, beautiful images. While they were sharing this kind of content before, it’s easy to see how Timeline so seamlessly lends itself to this type of multimedia-heavy approach to Facebook engagement. It’s been transformed from just another Facebook page to a truly Burberry branded destination.

Storytelling

On the other hand, it’s evident that this change is not just another tweak. The Facebook folks made much ado in their announcement on the 28th about the new Timeline’s focus on storytelling. Timeline for Brands isn’t much different than Timeline for individual Facebook users, and there’s a reason for that. Facebook envisions a platform where brands interact with their customers just like people do with each other on Facebook – listening to each other, swapping stories, sharing content that they really think those that are tuned in will appreciate.

If you’re a business that embraces social media not just as a marketing tactic, but as a way for a business that already values their customers to scale that approach, this change should be exciting for you. But if that’s not you, Timeline isn’t going to revolutionize the way you market with Facebook. In fact, it could present challenges. Check out Macy’s – a brand with a solid social media approach and nearly 5 million likes. They’ve updated their Cover Photo, but it’s nothing exciting. It’s nothing that they haven’t already done before. So far, none of their content seems to be capitalizing on the new capabilities of Timeline.

Still, it’s worth noting that they did take advantage of the opportunity to tell the story of their brand, going back to 1858. One of the best things about Timeline for businesses is the opportunity to tell their “life story.” By showing how small Macy’s started, and how far it has come, Macy’s really reinforces their brand and allows Facebook fans to connect with that emotional sell. I’m excited to see if they will eventually bring more of that into their Cover Photo and their newer content.

Overall, we think that Timeline for business is a good move by Facebook. While it might take all of us a while to transition and get used to these changes, it’ll provide so many more opportunities to reach, converse, and interact with customers in a way that more strongly reinforces a brand identity as a whole.

Doing It Right: Morton’s Steakhouse

Morton's WOM Success Stroy

We’ve been fond of praising those who do word of mouth marketing the right way, from musicians to the Four Seasons. And we’ve even brought to light some occasions where WOM can be detrimental to a company (remember United Breaks Guitars?). Looks like Morton’s Steak House falls under the “social media success” category. They’ve recently impressed a certain Peter Shankman, a self-proclaimed social media entrepreneur with just over 109,000 Twitter followers.

The story? Shankman tweeted at Morton’s right before a flight, jokingly requesting that they meet him at his destination with a porterhouse steak. Two hours and a grumbling stomach later, he walked off the flight and towards his rental car. Along the way, he was met by a man in a Tuxedo carrying a Morton’s bag. Shankman said…

Alex, from Morton’s Hackensack walks up to me, introduces himself, and hands me a bag. He proceeds to tell me that he’d heard I was hungry, and inside is a 24 oz. Porterhouse steak, an order of  Colossal Shrimp, a side of potatoes, one of Morton’s famous round things of bread, two napkins, and silverware.

He hands me the bag.

I. Was. Floored.

Morton's WOM Success StroyHe, like the rest of us in the social media sphere would have done, tweeted about it right away. He even snapped a picture.

The take away? Morton’s did it right. First and foremost, they appreciate their consumers before ever pulling stunts like the one above. Shankman describes in his blog post that the steakhouse has a very awesome Customer Relations Management system. Morton’s know that he is a steak lover. They know that he is a frequent customer. They know who he is when he calls. That is powerful in and of itself, and this system probably encouraged Morton’s social media team to know that Shankman would be the right guy for the surprise steak.

Secondly, Morton’s took the extra step – one that most companies never take – that can help solidify brand loyalty and created the ultimate experience for Shankman. Think of the amount effort in comparison to the pay off. Huge, right? If a company has the means to make a person feel like a their most important customer, why shouldn’t they jump at the chance?

Third, they picked the right dude. With Shankman’s huge following on Twitter, combined with his blog and online influence, the experience they created for him has been magnified to the tenth degree. All they needed was for him to tweet about it or share it on his blog, which he most certainly did. They took a seemingly small window of opportunity – a humorous and far reaching tweet – and blew the doors wide open. Word of mouth to the max!

So think of your company next time you get a tweet like Shankman’s. Do you have the means to make big things happen? Are you willing to take some risks for a big potential pay off?