Franchises And Social Media – Turning 'Too Many Cooks' Into A Great Social Media Recipe
January 23, 2014 // Franchising.com // Over the past few years, online networking websites and applications such as Facebook, Twitter and more recently Google Plus have evolved as headliners of the omnipresent industry we now identify as Social Media. Within that evolutionary phase, the viral nature of Social Media now greatly lends itself as a powerful marketing tool for businesses when implemented correctly.
However, when considering the application of Social Media platforms within the Franchise business model, developing and executing a strategy that achieves common goals for the business and the franchisees can be a complex task. Franchises are multidimensional operations with multiple business owners operating under the umbrella of the one company. So content, interaction, posting and strategic direction need to be carefully managed and regularly monitored to ensure they reflect a unified voice for the brand, but also establish individual voices of the franchisees.
Cafe2U Australia’s Social Media Strategist Benoit Thorp has come up against these challenges first hand. He has shared a few insights for developing a successful Social Media Strategy for Franchise Businesses:
- Establish a Social Media Policy Document – it might sound obvious but having a document that clearly outlines the parameters for Social Media use within the franchise network, will greatly help to guide the Franchisees on how to best represent the brand online and how to promote their own operation. It also has the added bonus of creating unified brand identity and brand consistency. A highly effective crisis prevention tool, a Social Media Policy is vital to help eliminate mixed brand messages, and more importantly messages that are unhelpful, and even destructive, to the overall franchise and experience of the consumer.
- Lead by example – Create Social Media Accounts for the Franchisor to help set the standard in content creation and interaction for its Franchisees to follow. This not only helps to perpetuate an online culture for the brand but also encourages positive public interaction and positive interaction between the Franchisee and Franchisor, which can appeal to potential Franchisees. With Cafe2U, we have established Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter pages for the Franchisor and we also encourage Franchisees to create their own business pages, which they can then use to interact with their customers, as well as the national Franchisor page.
- Set up a pipeline – Engage your Franchisees to regularly share their news with you on the page or through questionnaires that come back to Head Office. This makes for great content and also helps personalise the brand with real life experiences from Franchisees.
- Encourage regular participation from Franchisees - Franchisee engagement is crucial as it helps to establish a tangible workplace culture and is also a great selling tool. With Cafe2U we try to regularly endorse the activities and achievements of our 160 Australian and New Zealand Franchisees. At the end of the day, part of what will make the franchise brand a success are the real experiences of the Franchisees and their customers, so it is important that this is documented and celebrated amongst the online community. This can provide a powerful sales tool if implemented correctly, because it promotes the lifestyle changes that Cafe2U’s business model can provide for potential Franchisees.
- Reward endorsement and participation from franchisees and customers – In my experience, the most effective way to gain ongoing participation online is through running regular competitions. For franchise businesses running competitions increases chances of your pages going viral, rewards loyal customers, entices new customers and encourages new interactions between Franchisees and their customers.
The digital landscape is constantly evolving so it is important for Franchises and in fact businesses to be constantly assessing and educating themselves about how they can utilise Social Media most effectively.
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Carmenia Orti Tullo
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