June 21, 2011 // Franchising.com // HOMEWOOD, IL – Franchise consultants with iFranchise Group (www.ifranchisegroup.com), a leading franchise consulting firm based in the Chicago area, have noted that a growing number of franchise systems are utilizing social media, not only for branding and communication purposes, but also for franchisee recruiting. For a select few franchisors, the results are positive. But for most, their results have not produced a measurable increase in franchise sales.
Despite the increased activity and budget allocation focused on social media, only a small percentage of franchisors who utilize social media to attract franchise buyers can actually attribute franchise sales directly back to their social media efforts.
The key, according to iFranchise Group executives, is knowing how to best implement and use social media across multiple platforms for multiple audiences, and ensuring that proper policies and monitoring functions are in place.
Benefits and Dangers of Social Media. As with all marketing, franchise companies' efforts and expenditures around a social media strategy will depend on their various goals – whether local limited-time promotions, cultivating a fan base for the brand, or generating leads for franchise sales. Any interaction the brand has on the web – a posted article, answering questions on social media forums, posting videos, etc. – can improve organic search results and drive traffic to the company website, which is typically the goal for franchise sales, in particular. But on a broader scale, franchisors should be aware that all social media postings have the potential to impact the brand, both positively and negatively, so all social media content and posts should be frequently checked and updated.
Distinct Uses of Social Media in Franchising. Not all social media is created equal. When comparing options such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media sites, franchisors need to recognize that social media that consumers or clients use is likely to be different than social media that franchise prospects will use. And, while the general population may look to social media for deals and discounts, in the franchise sales arena it is mainly used as a first stop on the way to the franchisor's website.
"There's a big difference between using social media to push out sandwich coupons and using it to attract investors to purchase a multi-unit franchise deal," says iFranchise Group CEO, Mark Siebert. "In franchise sales, a franchisor's ultimate goal should be to drive all its social media traffic to the company website and keep it there long enough to capture lead information."
Recent data shows that social marketing is not replacing traditional media but rather enhancing it. Franchise industry surveys show a relatively low percentage of franchise sales can be actually attributed to social media; meaning it cannot be relied on alone and should, instead, be blended with a variety of other media options.
The Importance of Developing Social Media Policies. iFranchise Group franchise consultants also point out that the main social media functions in franchise marketing – local consumer messaging and franchise recruitment -- are distinct, and that franchisors should develop policies around the use of social media for all purposes, system-wide.
"Our franchise consultants advise our clients to develop a comprehensive social media policy for their brand," states franchise consultant and iFranchise Group President, Dave Hood. "For example, in most cases, franchisors will allow franchisees to establish their own local social media sites rather than having one central site for the brand. However, even with policies in place, franchisors need to continually monitor a franchisee's use of social media much like they would any other form of local marketing."
For more information about improving social media presence and tactics or developing appropriate social media policies, franchise companies are encouraged to contact iFranchise Group.
iFranchise Group (www.ifranchisegroup.com ), is a leading franchise consulting firm that offers the skills of the nation's top professionals in franchise strategic planning, operations training and documentation, franchise marketing and sales, advertising fund management, franchise recruitment, and development of Internet-based applications for emerging and established franchise companies worldwide.