The Changing Role of Social Media in Franchise Marketing Strategies
In the past, social media was like the “gravy” used to spice up the meat-and-potatoes of your franchise marketing strategies. It was always a popular channel for connecting with customers, but most franchise marketing strategies viewed it as optional in the early days. Certainly nobody expected a social media page–Facebook didn’t even offer business pages until years after its launch.
But all that’s changed. Gone are the days when users relied exclusively on search engines to find the sites or service providers they were looking for. Now social media is an essential part of franchise marketing strategies, to say nothing of its vital role in customer relations. People absolutely expect your business to have a social media page, and they demand speedy replies to comments, queries, and complaints.
Indeed, the evolution of social media as a component of franchise marketing strategies mirrors that of the website. Both went from “bonus material” to “bare minimum” seemingly overnight. And like your website, your social media stands as a digital representation of your brand.
In a 2018 Global Digital Suite of reports from We Are Social and Hootsuite, social media pages are equated to business storefronts. Incidentally, those same reports stated that there were 3.196 billion active social media users in 2018, up 13% year-on-year. With so many potential eyes on your page, sprucing up your virtual storefront is always worth the effort.
Accordingly, we’ve assembled some simple tips to help optimize your “digital storefront” and get more out of your franchise marketing strategies:
- Claim your name! One of the most exciting moments for a business owner is naming the business. Sometimes it comes to you in a flash of inspiration; other times it takes serious brainstorming, but it always feels great to settle on a winner. And that’s why it’s so important to claim your precious business name early. Even if you don’t intend on being active with your social media in the early stages of your business, get online and reserve your business names on the “big 5” social media sites. Brand consistency is important for your business, and social media handles are given lots of weight in 2019.
- Choose the right “location.” You know what they say: location, location, location! Location determines what type of customer you attract, how your storefront is perceived, and the efficacy of your marketing. That’s true of both your online and offline storefronts.In the virtual world, location refers to the social media platform you choose. While it’s helpful to be present on multiple platforms, you should identify “primary platforms” that attract your target audience. Statista data from the Global Web Index indicated that Facebook is the most popular choice, with over 2-billion registered users. However, certain businesses will perform better on other platforms. For example, fashion outlets and food trucks do wonderfully on Instagram, where their “aesthetic” products can truly shine, while franchise development works best with business-centric LinkedIn users.
- Upgrade your aesthetics. Your virtual storefront needs to be as polished as its physical counterpart. Users look to your social media page for indicators of how much you care about brand image and aesthetics. Unfinished pages with sloppy placeholder logos are akin to cardboard signage for your business. Quality brand images and colors are non-negotiable. On Twitter, use consistent hashtags to help index your business posts. For Instagram or Facebook videos, use consistent editing and watermarks to brand your content. These “minor” touches matter!
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