Recently, traditional marketing has seen a significant decline due to higher price points, lack of immediacy, insufficient targeting possibilities, and a substantial cultural change.
You see, during COVID-19, 50% of consumers became more digital, which directly resulted in new social media trends and an increased need for disruptive digital marketing.
But how does this exactly influence franchises? And how can franchisors and franchisees work together to create a single cohesive social media strategy?
In this article, we'll take you through all these burning questions and many more:
Why is social media marketing important for franchises?
With the right management, franchisor and franchisees can use social media marketing to:
Reach a local target audience
Answer their needs immediately
Create hyper-localised, authentic, engaging content
A strong social media presence is essential for businesses today. It's the most cost-effective way to reach a target audience worldwide - in a relevant and timely manner.
The benefits to brand awareness, lead generation, customer acquisition, and retention alone can be profound. And a solid social media strategy that scales across markets can have tangible, long-term impacts on individual franchisee locations.
McDonald's uses a very simple, yet effective social media marketing tactic to connect with their local audiences. By promoting their local teams and taking them behind the scenes of their local franchisees, they create a strong bond with their followers.
So, why do some franchise businesses fail to use this potential, and others give up on it before even trying?
What challenges does social media marketing pose for franchises?
There are a few challenges every franchise faces, but keep in mind they can all be overcome:
Inconsistency in brand messaging and community management
Posting brand-approved content
Insufficient resources to support local franchisees
1. Inconsistency in brand messaging and community management
This challenge leads to a high variance in generating the right social media experience you want your audience to have.
Inconsistency in brand messaging and community management can damage a consumer-facing brand. But playing safe and limiting your local franchisee's social media marketing team's creativeness can be just as harmful, as the content won't be personalised to the needs and particular traits of the local audience.
2. Posting brand-approved content
Monitoring tens or hundreds of social channels is not only exhausting but almost impossible.
And posting the same content is not the answer either.
The most scalable solution is to invest in a social media tool that allows your franchisees to create and schedule content that resonates with locals, that's then shared with your central digital marketing team who can edit and approve it.
A good social media management tool should allow your team to create, approve, and schedule social media posts in one place.
3. Insufficient resources to support local franchisees
Implementing a cookie-cutter social media strategy to avoid this risk will prevent you from achieving the maximum potential of an individual franchisee's social media presence.
This type of rigid strategy sacrifices engaging, hyper-localised, and creative content for the sake of brand consistency, risk reduction, and simplicity.
So how do you overcome all three challenges at once? By implementing content governance.
Bonus tip: When time is short and your social media content ideas are running low, you can add more consistency and structure to your existing social media strategy with content pillars.
How does content governance help franchises manage and scale social media?
Content governance is a system, or better yet, a set of guidelines, that determines how an organisation's content gets created and published.
In other words - content governance helps you avoid chaos and ensures that a single source of truth and protocol informs the content creation process.
Sounds pretty straightforward. Now let's see how can it help you scale your social media presence and performance while achieving marketing goals.
For a franchise, this means that social media managers will have the power to quickly and easily leverage local knowledge and adjust social media content to match particular traits of the local audience. But, they will do so within a clearly defined workflow that ensures consistency and quality.
In the end, content governance will provide you with:
For example, Labello divided its global Facebook page into multiple market pages. Depending on the user's location and language, they will be presented with social media content adjusted to that particular market. This way, Labello's local social media marketing teams can celebrate unique holidays and support relevant causes.
4 key components of a franchise content governance
Your content governance system might be super detailed or simplified depending on your franchise's social media marketing needs and goals.
Either way, it needs to include these four key components:
Clear brand guidelines
Centralised asset management system
Pre and post content production process
Community management guidelines
1. Clear brand guidelines
Having a clear set of brand guidelines democratises content creation.
Well documented practices will ensure consistency and quality of both visual and written messaging.
This type of document should include guidelines on:
Franchise brand's vision
Milestones for the foreseeable future
Preferred profile picture
Naming policy for each social media channel
Colour palettes and graphic design instructions
Voice and tone of communication
List of branded hashtags
Examples of best practices
This way, you'll ensure that local social media content will always be on-brand, unified, and adjusted to that market.
Take an example of Coca-Cola's Italian Instagram account. You can immediately recognise the famous brand by the tone, colours, atmosphere, and the main message.
But by adding Italia's traditional dish and common disagreements about which pizza is better, they've adjusted it to this particular market.
2. Centralised asset management system
Another thing that can save you from headache (and heartache) is having a solid centralised asset management system.
A digital asset management system stores, organises, and distributes rich media files in a central location. Rich media files can include photos, creative files, video, audio, presentations, and documents.
This type of system provides direction and guidance without limiting your local and regional social media managers to tailor and personalise content for local markets.
3. Pre and post content creation process
Effective content governance includes transparent workflows and defined roles. But, what does this mean when it comes to franchise social media marketing?
Let's break this down into two segments.
What to do before creating content?
Assign the responsibility of approving content to a specific person
Make sure each social media content creator knows the brand's guidelines
Define what success looks like by setting clear goals and KPIs
What to do after creating content?
Create a checklist for content owners. This is possibly the best way to make sure local content owners make sure everything's on-brand before approving content:
Accuracy. Are all prices, data, and information updated and relevant?
Brand/Voice. Is the messaging on-brand?
Alignment. Does the content piece align with one of the goals?
4. Community management guidelines
A community manager bridges the gap between social media and customer support, and they're tasked with creating and fostering a community.
Some of their key tasks include:
Replying to comments on social media
Interacting with customers internally
Sharing resources to answer customer questions
Gathering target audience feedback
Helping tailor content to audience needs
Building relationships with influencers
Managing community during times of crises
Since they're in touch with your followers and potential customers in real-time, you need to make sure they act according to your guidelines. Otherwise, you might risk an unwanted crisis.
Make sure to set a clear set of rules and editable template responses they can use to always stay on top of the brand messaging. This will allow them to maintain a creative and tailored approach to creating those unique, personal relationships with followers while not risking your brand's reputation.
Community management has become one of the essential digital marketing tactics, so make sure you learn more about it with our extensive guide to being a community manager.
How to create an effective social media strategy for franchise marketing?
Creating a unified franchise social media strategy can be challenging if you're active in multiple markets around the globe, as each local audience has its preferences when it comes to social media channels.
This is why you should allow your local social media marketing teams to experiment and determine the best social media channels to achieve marketing goals for the particular market they're in charge of.
So instead of burdening your central digital marketing team with creating a super detailed social media strategy, create an easy to implement a strategic framework that includes:
Customer service and crisis management
KPIs and expectations
Together with the content governance system, you'll be sure everything is coordinated and implemented in the best possible way.
Just take the example of Barilla, the world's most famous pasta brand. Their USA Twitter profile proudly celebrated National Meatball Day with a graphic illustration while inviting users to check out pasta recipes that include meatballs. Not only did they engage Twitter followers and reach new ones with a holiday hashtag, but they also directed traffic to their website set up strictly for English-speaking users.
We love a nice, delicious meatball to add to our favorite pasta dishes. So of course we're celebrating #NationalMeatballDay! Here's our guide to ensure your meatballs are tender and oh-so-delicious. Find recipes that star meatballs at the link below.https://t.co/rYhxWiR2CJ pic.twitter.com/ZRKfGhzjfC— Barilla US (@BarillaUS) March 9, 2022
Bonus: Top 5 tips for franchises shared by Gavin Hammar, Founder of Sendible
1. Decide who should control your social media
Who controls social media depends upon the structure of your business, franchise locations and the homogeneity of your products and promotions. Your central brand provides the backbone to local franchise success, so you need to leverage it well.
Our subscription plans are built in a way to help you and your team not only create content at scale but also draft, edit, approve, and distribute with your franchisees.
Our top tier plan has a unique feature called merge tags. These custom tags and fields are ideal for franchises and multinational businesses who can quickly tailor content for each social media account they own.
2. Create guidelines for posting and responding
Once a control mechanism has been established, you need to create posting guidelines. These range from which platforms are used and how often, to what kind of imagery is acceptable and who will respond to enquiries.
Sendible can help with the customer service side, whilst our approvals workflow will ensure that your franchisees remain compliant.
Our software solution also channels all of your social media comments and responses onto one feed, so your community managers can see it all on their mobile phones at any time. This allows them to respond in real-time, which will improve user experience, directly impacting
your overall brand image.
3. Understand your market and customers
It is vital that you know your market. You need to monitor mentions about your own brand, competitors and key terms for local franchises.
Sendible’s social listening feature can help you improve your social media strategy by tracking brand, competitor, and key industry terms. For example, you can set up a Twitter search to monitor mentions of pain points or competing brands so you can easily find meaningful conversations to contribute to.
4. Enrich your content strategy using RSS feeds
Subscribing to RSS feeds on relevant websites and blogs is a quick, easy and costless source of content. New posts from the feed you subscribe to will be delivered automatically, saving you time and effort in creating relevant content.
If you are lucky enough to have a social media management tool like Sendible, the RSS publishing can be automated too. For example, local franchises could subscribe to a corporate blog as well as local publications and businesses to further strengthen their position locally.
5. Save time and resources through planning and automation
Your local social media marketing teams can save time by just taking an hour a week to write messages in advance and assign them to the content owner for approval. Once approved, social media managers can easily schedule them across various social media platforms.