Social Media and the Changing Face of the Franchising Business

Running a business today is not what it used to be. Social media has changed things dramatically, and in order to succeed a company has to make the most of the available tools. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pintererst, YouTube, Instagram... the list of social media outlets goes on and on and every year it seems new ones are entering the fold. Franchises do well to make the most of these powerful new tools.

Get On Board With Social Media

A survey conducted by Franchise Business Review found that 75 per cent of franchise companies are now using social media. 45 per cent of those companies use it to boost brand awareness, 24 per cent use it to attract new customers, and 11 per cent reported using it to recruit new franchisees.

Customers don’t feel connected to big corporations. They feel connected to local businesses. This is why franchisees can step in with their social media prescience to connect to existing and potential customers in their territory. The challenge is that without a social media policy, franchisees can manage their pages however they see fit, and because each franchise is independently owned, they can be difficult to control. The franchisor must be concerned with the performance of all franchisees, and a social media policy can add a level of quality assurance to a franchise’s social media campaigns.

Elements of a Social Media Strategy

Of all the franchises climbing aboard the social media express, only about half of them have a social media policy in place. There are four elements to a successful one. First of all, the franchisor should involve the franchisees in developing the policy. They will be much more likely to follow it if they helped define the rules. The second thing is to establish a central corporate account, and assign individual pages to each franchisee within that account. This way the franchisor can monitor everyone’s activity.

Third, the franchisor must provide training on the social media policy. This should be included as part of the franchisee training program that all partners go through.

And fourth, the franchisor should discourage over-reliance on social media outlets. It is important to recognize that they do not replace traditional sales and marketing methods like cold calling, but compliments those methods. Social media is just one more tool in the marketing repertoire.

The Measures of Social Media Success

Since everything is online, measuring campaign efficacy is different from conventional marketing strategies. Just because people view a Facebook page, or follow on Twitter, doesn’t mean they’re going to become customers.

There are many different metrics that one can track in determining how effective a social media campaign is. If it’s concerned with brand awareness, then you should measure reach, exposure, and volume. If it’s concerned with engagement, look at retweets, likes, comments, and favorites. If you want to drive more traffic to your website, look at URL clicks and shares. You can also look at your stats compared to the competition for an objective look at how well the campaign is performing.

Social media should be used to engage with potential customers, not just to promote products and services. It’s best to think of social media as an on-going conversation. Effective campaigns are the ones that get the most people involved. The more engaged people become, the more likely they are to become actual customers.