Using Social Media for Franchise Development

Franchise Update Media Group recently conducted a survey of social media usage by franchisors who are actively recruiting franchisees. The questions dealt not only with social media in consumer-oriented marketing, but more important for franchise development teams, its use in franchise recruitment.

Of the 75 respondents, nearly half (47%) indicated they were using social media as a part of their franchise recruitment efforts. Facebook was the top choice, with 62 percent of those surveyed saying they used it for recruiting. That was followed by LinkedIn (48%), Twitter (44%), and YouTube (32%). About half the respondents (48%) were in services, a quarter (23%) in 17 percent in food, and 9 percent in retail non-food.

The responses indicate that the use of social media as a franchise recruitment is still relatively young--at least in terms of producing directly measurable results: only 5 percent of respondents said they had sold a franchise through social media channels in the past 12 months. However, 17 percent said they see social media becoming a successful franchise recruitment tool during the next year, and 28 percent said it would be a valid recruitment tool in the next two years.

One of the survey questions asked whether social media is a "must" for franchise recruitment programs. We've selected some representative comments to give you a sampling of current thinking among franchise sales people on this emerging tool.

"Yes, it provides brand awareness and increases visibility on the Internet where everyone seems to be searching for info these days. It also shows the consumer that you are up with the times."
Alex Roberts, vice president franchise development, Service Brands International

"Once you create a Facebook following where fans begin commenting on your brand, then potential candidates can use those comments when researching a brand. So while it won't be a direct correlation between social media and a franchise sale, it will help in their discovery process."
Holly Ryan, franchising development assistant, Bruegger's

"It is definitely a part of the marketing mix for franchise recruitment. You get the eyes of a different type of prospect that may not be using the traditional franchise portals when looking for opportunities."
Randy Hawthorne, director of franchise development, Firespring

"Over time it will become more significant to recruitment. The significance to recruiting will depend on the demographics of your franchisee prospect. The more your prospects use social media, the more relevant your use will be to them. The highest value today is in building your brand awareness. This, in turn, helps support your recruitment."
Troy Bader, chief development and legal officer, American Dairy Queen

"More and more, we are getting used to this communication too. And just like word of mouth, what could be better than a candidate who is interested because they were intrigued through the positive dialogue of their friends/acquaintances on social media?"
Jennifer Ostroff, vice president development and operations, Carpet Network

"I think that franchisors should have a presence in social media as it is a tool/channel that individuals turn to for research and validation. Serving as an information source for the 'online community' is part of the brand forward."
Sherri Wilmoth, director, marketing, Comfort Keepers

"It is the wave we all need to get in on, as things will progress and change. Having your name in front of the main customer base is imperative, and being available to those interested is crucial. The more this segment increases in use and morphs in how to use, the laggers will fall behind all the more quickly."
Eva Crosland, manager franchising, Gymboree Play Programs

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