As recently as 2010, franchisors were avoiding social media simply because they didn’t know how to make it work for them. Today, many social media experts are using social media to market franchises, but only a few are able to coach franchisees on how to use it to reach customers. When used correctly, it can be a valuable tool for lead generation and consumer engagement. Furthermore, the largest source of Franchise Development Candidates, that visit your FD site, often originate from the consumer site. Therefore, indirectly by optimizing the consumer site, a franchise organization can reap the benefits from a Franchise Development standpoint.
Developing a Social Media Strategy
Franchisees need to develop a social media strategy for promoting their franchise across social media platforms. Social media strategies need to be in compliance with the terms of the franchisor marketing agreement. In addition, a social media strategy should form a part of a larger holistic marketing strategy. This integrated approach to marketing ensure you connect with your consumers when and where they are looking for you.
To begin, listen to what is being said about your brand online. Capitalize on what you’re hearing. Highlight the positive and come up with a plan to address the negative in a way that shows your customers you’re paying attention. Pay close attention to the people who are driving the conversation, and reach out to them.
Identify your goals and objectives. You may want to increase your website traffic, or you may just want to increase your social media followers. Go beyond your company goals and think about your audience goals. What do they want? What do they need? You will be much more successful with your social media marketing efforts if you are able to provide something of value customers are looking for.
Create your plan, and craft the content. Use any relevant marketing and promotional materials provided to you by the franchisor. Create a timeline a year in advance so you can identify events and promotions you can tie into your social media plan.
Create a variety of content suited to your goals and objectives. Ideas can include things such as:
- Special offers and promotions
- Case studies
- Community polls
Respond to All Customer Comments – Even the Negative Ones
By appropriately responding to all comments, you show your current customers you care and are paying attention to what they have to say. By addressing the negative comments, you are showing both current and prospective customers that you not only take the good, but also the bad.. With any business, negativity from irate customers will surface, and ignoring it will hurt your prospective customers by perpetuating the image that you don’t care.
Be Active Where Your Customers Are
With the sheer number of social media outlets available today, it can be tempting, yet overwhelming, to create a presence on all of them. Instead, focus on where you know your customers are. Use the large networks, such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with your audience. If you have a niche franchise, turned to niche social media networks as well, as these can provide more targeted leads.
Make it Personal
Social media engagement is highly personal. Customers like to know they are talking to real people behind the brand. Be real and transparent and you will create much stronger engagements with your customers than you would otherwise.
Pay to Promote, If Possible
If allowed by the terms of your franchise agreement, and possible in terms of your available budget, try to use social media advertising platforms to better reach your targeted audience. This can help speed up your growth and ensure you are connecting with followers who will connect with your brand and become ambassadors on your behalf.
Use Social Media Analytics Tools
While website analytics tools like Google analytics will provide some social data, do not neglect using social media platforms built-in analytics tools. Facebook Insights and Twitter analytics can provide additional information to help you see who is engaging with you on social media. The information can be used to adjust your strategy to foster more success.
As a business owner, it can be somewhat discouraging if you do not see the results you’re looking for with social media right away. It is important to be patient. It takes time to develop relationships on social media platforms. You have to take the time to develop relationships and build the credible reputation with influencers in your audience. Your early phase will typically be the most time-consuming and require the most effort, but as your audience gets bigger, it becomes much easier to grow and expand.
About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi
A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of an international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.Back