What has two arms and two legs but can go in 289 directions at once? Each of your franchisees on social media. Eek. How do you keep marketing messages, branding, and customer experience consistent with, quite literally, so many cooks in the kitchen?
Fear not, franchisor: Here’s how to plan, execute, analyze, and maintain a successful franchise social media marketing strategy that all your franchisees will get excited about.
Bonus: Get a free, customizable social media guidelines template to quickly and easily create recommendations for your company and employees.
What is franchise social media marketing?
Franchise social media marketing is promoting your brand and engaging customers at both the corporate and local levels, while ensuring messaging and values remain consistent across all social profiles.
In a centralized corporation, the company owns all locations (or branches) and there is one chain of command. Simple.
In contrast, an individual or another company owns each franchise company location. These branches are technically separate entities, although they must report back to the parent organization, pay licensing fees, and follow the brand’s established practices.
One of the most well-known franchise examples is McDonald’s, with over 38,000 locations worldwide. Each restaurant is individually owned and operated by franchisees, but customers see the same signage and menu items — and hopefully, have the same experience — at every location.
Franchisor: A company that owns the trademarks and rights to a brand who sells licenses allowing franchisees to operate business locations using the trademarked brand.
Franchisee: A person or company who pays a licensing fee and recurring royalties to open a business leveraging the parent company’s existing brand, name, services, and other proprietary property.
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The unique challenges of franchise social media marketing
Enforcing brand guidelines
You want franchisees to make the most of social media marketing to grow their (and your) business, but how do you avoid a cringe-worthy faux paus, like using an outdated logo in marketing materials?
Answer: Creating a detailed brand guidelines document and keeping it where all franchisees can access the latest version, along with your brand assets.
Bonus: Get a free, customizable social media guidelines template to quickly and easily create recommendations for your company and employees.
Keeping content quality consistent
Besides using the right visuals and brand voice, there’s also the somewhat ambiguous judgment of social media content “quality.” What’s good when it comes to content anyway?
Examples of consistency can be as simple as ensuring each post is free of spelling and grammar errors. Or sticking to one exclamation point instead of five. You know, the simple things.
These quality standards should also be part of your brand guidelines document.
Will your corporate head office handle all social media marketing, using one account per platform? Will you create separate brand accounts for different regions or languages?
Or, will each franchise open and maintain their own social media accounts?
Neither approach to franchise social media marketing is wrong. Just be sure to document your structure in your social media marketing strategy.
Tracking performance and ROI
Was the last Black Friday promotion effective? Or was it only effective in a certain market? Or only for a certain franchisee? What did they do differently on social compared to the other franchisees?
Getting effective performance data is important for all businesses, but especially for franchisors managing teams of franchisees.
Using social media for customer service (effectively)
Providing customer service over social media is no longer optional: 40% of your customers now expect you to help them on their preferred social platform. Over half (53%) are more likely to buy from brands who offer customer service via chat. And, unsurprisingly, 94% of people say positive customer service makes them more likely to buy from you again.
You better hurry, too: 40% expect a response within an hour and 79% expect one within 24 hours.
So what does all that mean? If you’re not already solving customer problems on social media, start now. (Don’t worry: I cover how to effortlessly get started with social customer service later.)
Reduce response time (and your workload)
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Adjusting content to fit diverse cultures
Whether your franchisees are spread across your state, country, or the entire world, it’s likely that different styles of content will perform differently across each region. Your social media content needs to respect differences in culture, attitudes, laws, and more to resonate with as many people as possible.
Localization is also about more than geography. Creating multilingual content can establish you as the brand of choice for millions: 2 out of 3 customers would switch to a brand offering service in their native language.
11 strategies for successful franchise social media marketing
1. Set goals for the brand and for individual branches
Every blog post about social media marketing since the dial-up days spouts the importance of setting goals and KPIs to measure the success of your efforts, so I don’t need to. But here’s how to set social media goals that actually boost ROI, plus a free template to track it all.
Franchisors, the best way to measure progress is to set goals for your organization as a whole, plus separate social media goals for each branch.
You both want the same thing — Growth! Profit! Loyal customers! — but how you go about achieving those goals will be different. For example, each branch is going to have a much bigger role in customer service and engagement than your head office (assuming each location will manage their own social profiles).
In that case, goals for branches could be:
- Delivering a response time under 1 hour for all DMs.
- Customer service satisfaction survey scores above 90%.
- Growing follower counts and engagement rates. (Psst: use our free engagement rate calculator to see how you stack up.)
Whereas goals for your organization will be more brand-focused, such as:
- Monitoring and improving your brand reputation.
- Using social listening to proactively address potential PR crises and conduct competitive research.
- Supporting franchisee success through sharing analytics results and coaching them on social media marketing best practices.
2. Create a do’s and don’ts guide
You need three guidelines to share with franchisees:
- Brand guidelines: All the visual aspects of your brand, like which logo version to use, colors, how to spell product names and if they need trademark symbols or not, etc.
- Social media policy: You could include this within a larger brand guidelines document. This spells out your brand voice,
- A do’s and don’ts guide: Think of this as a quick, point-form one-pager listing out the most important social media “rules.”
A do’s and don’ts guide should serve as a cheat sheet franchisees can use to judge whether they should post something or not. Stating clear expectations is the best way to avoid potential PR disasters, and for your franchisees to feel confident about what they’re posting.
Best Buy doesn’t call theirs a “do’s and don’ts” but it’s clear and to the point:
Keep your guidelines and policy documents where all franchisees can easily access them. It can be as simple as a Google Drive folder. Put visual assets in the same folder too, such as logo files, so your franchisees always know where to get the most up-to-date versions.
Need help? Grab our free social media policy template, and check this complete guide to brand guidelines.
3. Standardize publishing flows
This is where the power of a scheduling tool comes in. Sure, you can schedule content for free on most of the platforms’ native apps, but a publishing workflow is so much more than just scheduling.
For example, if you set your team up with Hootsuite, you also get:
- Shared Canva templates for on-brand content: Earlier I mentioned how important consistency is. With our Canva integration, you can let franchisees access custom branded Canva templates right from Hootsuite Composer, ensuring everyone’s visuals are top notch.
- Quick onboarding and account access: You retain Super Admin privileges for all accounts and it’s easy to set up new franchisees at scale.
- Deep analytics insights: With all your franchisee accounts connected in Hootsuite, you can get a macro or micro view of key analytics with a few clicks. Easily identify top performing content ideas to share with all franchisees and always know your social ROI.
- Powerful publishing tools: The personalized Best Time to Publish feature automatically schedules content for when each profile’s audience is most likely to see it. Plus: Drafts, a visual calendar planner, built in advertising options, and more.
- Easy content approval: Want to review each post before it goes public, and easily collaborate on edits or revisions with franchisees? Hootsuite does that, too.
Plus, supercharge your franchisees’ marketing power with OwlyWriter AI. Perfect for both novice social media marketers and pros alike, OwlyWriter instantly generates ready-to-post content that actually sounds like your brand.
Get all the deets in under 60 seconds:
4. Track analytics (locally and globally)
You already know analytics data is essential for knowing if your social media marketing strategy is working. But analytics are even more important for franchisors because you need to measure your overall growth, and be able to break down performance by branch.
Hootsuite Analytics makes it easy to see everything you need instantly.
Get the big picture overview of all your franchisors at once, across all platforms, or break it down by region, platform, or individual branch.
See what’s working (and what’s not) before campaigns end, allowing time to pivot if necessary. No more spreadsheets or having to log into each platform’s website to get the numbers you want. Save your key metrics as custom reports, ready to view, export, or share with just a few clicks.
This is another big advantage of setting franchisees up in Hootsuite: They get efficient content scheduling and you get comprehensive analytics.
Don’t know what to track? Here’s everything you need to set up your social media analytics the right way.
5. Conduct branch social media audits
Don’t panic at the use of “audit” — it’s painless, I promise. A social media audit is a way of routinely evaluating performance and identifying improvement opportunities.
An audit reviews:
- Current social media platforms
- Brand consistency
- Analytics reports
- Reputation and sentiment via social listening tools
- Goals and ROI
It’s a repeatable process you can use to see how your franchisees’ social media marketing is going. Use it to praise and amplify top-performing content, and to identify areas of improvement to coach them on.
How often should you run a branch social media audit? That’s up to you, but I’d suggest at least quarterly to check in, and annually, before updating the next year’s marketing plan and budget.
Read how to do a social media audit and snag our free template, or watch below:
6. Support branches with design templates
One of the biggest challenges your franchisees likely have with social media marketing is creating content, especially visuals like graphics or videos.
The average creator spends 1-5 hours per week creating content, which doesn’t sound like a ton of time… if social media is your full-time job. But for many franchisees, it’s not.
Plus, over a quarter (27%) spend 5-10 hours and a total of 30% spend over 10 hours per week on content.
Luckily, this is something you can easily solve for your franchisees. Create pre-designed content templates that only need small tweaks before scheduling and publishing.
Set up a template library with Hootsuite’s built-in Canva integration so your franchisees can customize and insert templates right inside Hootsuite Composer.
We’ve even got 50 free Canva social media templates to get you started.
7. Create a quick start kit
Whether you decide to manage your franchisees’ accounts with Hootsuite or have them manage their own, a social media “quick start kit” can help.
Your kit could include:
- Recommended social platforms to use.
- Naming practices (e.g. @BrandNameCityName) to keep branding consistent.
- Brand guidelines.
- A basic one-pager covering social media marketing goals and expectations.
- Links to where you keep updated copies of brand guidelines, strategy documents, assets, and other items they’ll regularly refer to.
- Tutorial videos showing how to set up social accounts, add logos, schedule posts and/or submit posts for approval, etc.
- Recommendations on how often to post.
Plus anything else you want franchisees to know right away about how your company does social media marketing.
8. Build a social customer service strategy
As mentioned earlier, your customers expect to get good service from your franchisees’ social media profiles.
But how do you:
- Ensure all franchisees are providing the same caliber of customer service?
- Set response time benchmarks?
- Measure customer satisfaction?
- Build authentic relationships with customers?
Surprise: the answer is Hootsuite.
Yep, Hootsuite Inbox 2.0 is here with all-new features to make social customer service easy and effective for your franchisees:
- Unified Inbox: Branches can see and respond to DMs and comments across all their social platforms inside Hootsuite, instead of having to log into platforms individually.
- 24/7 service: Night owl customer? No problem. You can setup autoresponders to assure customers you’ve received their inquiry and when they can expect to hear back from you. This is especially helpful outside of business hours.
- Time-saving tools: Auto-filter messages, save custom replies, and view cross-channel message history so your customer doesn’t have to re-explain themselves.
- Smart chatbots: Need to provide customer service at scale? Harness the power of AI to solve customer problems instantly with adaptive, conversational chatbots.
- Powerful analytics: Measure response times, customer satisfaction scores, reply volume, and tons more to evaluate performance overall and per branch.
Hootsuite Inbox dramatically boosts your social customer service capabilities and makes it easy for your franchisees to ensure every customer feels valued.
Check out all Hootsuite Inbox 2.0 features in-depth, or better yet, request a free demo to see it in action.
9. Leverage employee advocacy
One of the fastest ways to grow a new franchisee’s social media presence is to encourage their employees to get involved. Employee advocacy can increase organic reach up to 200% and profits up to 23%.
Plus, a third of employees already share their company’s content without being asked.
Besides moolah and reach, employee advocacy also has other benefits:
Source: Hootsuite and Altimeter Research, Social Transformation Report
Employee advocacy can be as simple as employees sharing your content to their personal networks, or you can go a step further with Hootsuite Amplify: a dedicated space for pre-approved posts.
Besides having access to a library of ready-to-share content, employees can generate custom captions in their own style with built-in AI writing tools.
Bringing employees into your marketing strategy can strengthen their engagement level and cut your paid advertising costs at the same time. A win-win for you and your franchisees.
10. Encourage customer reviews
Testimonials inspire trust, in both the franchisor and franchisee.
If customers are already leaving reviews on Google, Yelp, or your social media profiles, share them. Create a branded graphic your franchisees can copy and paste existing reviews into for quick content that’s — to quote Pokemon — ”super effective.”
People rank customer reviews, and other user-generated content, as 2.4X more authentic than anything a brand produces, even if your latest commercial has A-List Hollywood talent. That’s important because while 92% of marketers think they’re producing authentic content, only 51% of consumers agree.
No need to hunt down reviews. Set up Hootsuite Streams to track reviews and mentions of your brand, and share it with a few clicks.
11. Share top-performing content tips
Did a post from one of your branches go viral? Figure out why, then share it as an example for all your franchisees.
How you share any lessons learned depends how you’ve set up your franchisee marketing structure. You could send out a monthly newsletter covering great post examples and best practices. Or, host a weekly or monthly webinar or conference call about social media strategy for all franchisees to take part in. You can also keep it simple with a Slack or Discord group chat to showcase and discuss great content.
Everyone benefits from sharing social media success stories.
Hootsuite powers franchise social media marketing with efficient scheduling, publishing, and customer engagement tools for your franchisees, and advanced analytics, collaboration, and branding tools for you — across all platforms. See it in action.
Manage all your social media in one place, measure ROI, and save time with Hootsuite.
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