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.
- 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.
- 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.