In two previous articles we discussed AdWords strategy for franchises and local SEO for franchise owners. In this article, we will discuss best practices for social media management of franchises.
Should franchised businesses be allowed to have a local online presence, or should corporate assume one branded account?
While having a central account to cover all of your locations might be the simplest approach for a brand, it isn’t always the most effective. Why? Social media is not one size fits all. One location might have different reactions to specific content than another market. You might have a franchise location in one area where the weather is colder than other locations and may benefit with more targeted messaging for higher rates of engagement. For many franchise verticals there is also an added interest in positioning the location as a “local business” that community members can develop social ties with.
To make social media work for franchises, it is important for the corporate structure to have both an actionable strategy in place with community management guidelines for your franchises to follow.
Having a cohesive strategy is important for any marketing campaign and social is no exception. As an organization there is a need to have clear branding guidelines to establish the overall message and to make sure “creative franchisees” don’t inadvertently create PR issues with poorly developed content. There also needs to be clear goals established, outlining what is hoped to be accomplished with social media.
When creating a content strategy, execution to be effective involves effort and coordination with the individual locations and partners.
As an aid to aid social media managers in each of your locations, we recommended creating a resource center that franchises can use to implement your strategy. What should be included?
Here are a few key elements:
• Your brand mission
• A clear social media policy- This should outline both posting on branded channels as well as employees’ usage during work.
• A content library for social media usage- This could include something as basic as an online resource to download graphics, or brand standards, to a more robust version, with could include coordinated social messages and promotional material such as branded hashtags to current brand messaging,
• Crisis Response Templates: This would include how to respond to negative response or common industry issues. This could also include whom to escalate issues to before they become a larger social media crisis.
• Training modules for social media community managers
Make sure local branches comply with your strategies and guidelines and contribute to your overall voice. Give them assistance to execute social campaigns with proper support and usage guidance.
What if you are a local franchise wanting to develop your social presence?
Make sure that you follow your corporate guidelines and develop appropriate local social media accounts.
After you have checked the guidelines and complied with them, it’s up to you. Make sure your social voice amplifies your brand’s values. Post local flair to attract customers to your page. Use relevant images that will draw in visitors. Post about appropriate sales and discounts. Find out where your audience is and then post regularly to your page. If you are setting up social media accounts, keep them up to date for your customers. Nothing is more frustrating than discovering your favorite store’s local location has a social account and then finding it hasn’t been updated in months or years. Create a social presence by being there for your loyal local customers in a way that can’t be duplicated on a corporate level.