Social media is an enormous part of business growth. At the same time, franchise social media is on its own level regarding strategy. It requires balancing franchise-wide cohesion and brand recognition with the flexibility for each franchise to connect with its customer base.
According to 2016 studies, most franchises just don’t know how to handle social media strategy. For instance, the majority of franchise social media presence suffered from issues such as poor content maintenance, lack of consistent keywords, lack of customer interaction, and brand inconsistencies across multiple franchise locations.
Having a cohesive social media strategy and sticking to it can help eliminate these issues and put your franchise on the path to success. There are four main types of social media strategy: centralized, centralized blend, controlled, and monitored. Here’s what you need to know about choosing the right one.
With a centralized social media strategy, you run a single social media account at the corporate level that speaks for all of your franchise locations at once.
Because there’s only content coming from a single account, you have the fullest control over your social media branding. There are no concerns about diluted messaging or off-brand content. Businesses that have a very rigid social media approach prefer centralized strategies because they have the most control.
The downside is that with centralized social media, you’re missing out on the potential to build connections at the local level. Not all communities may connect with your top-level social media presence in the same way that they would connect with local-specific pages. Also, franchisees may see this strategy as a lack of trust, affecting the franchisor-franchisee relationship in a negative way.
A centralized blend strategy is a happy medium for businesses that want to play it safe, but give their franchisees a voice and connect with local customers. All social media profiles are still managed at the corporate level, but instead of a single corporate account, there’s an account for each franchisee, allowing customers to connect with their local stores.
In some cases, franchisors ask their franchisees to submit content suggestions. The corporate-level social media team monitors and edits these suggestions for brand consistency, and the franchisees get to be a little more involved in their location’s social media presence. This necessitates an extremely on-point social media team but is often worth the effort.
A controlled social media marketing strategy gives franchisees more control over their online presence. Franchisees get to manage their social media accounts, which makes it easier to facilitate connections and engagement with customers.
At the same time, corporate provides franchisees with ready-to-publish content. This lets franchisees focus on interactions rather than content creation, and gives corporate control over branding without any worry of conflict.
Monitored social media strategy gives franchisees the greatest amount of freedom without compromising on corporate-level branding ideals.
At this level, franchisees enjoy free reign over their social media accounts, both in terms of content creation and customer engagement. Meanwhile, corporate offers guidelines for franchisees to follow when establishing their local voice, which helps minimize branding conflict.
Customers care about interacting with businesses on the local level, so if you have the means to monitor your franchisees’ social media from a distance, this may be the best choice for encouraging customer engagement.
Whether you choose a centralized strategy, a monitored approach, or something in between, the goal is to build your brand’s social media presence and engage with customers. Different businesses have unique social media needs and resources, so it may take some experimenting to find the approach that’s right for your brand.
Nick Rojas is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who’s enjoyed success working with and consulting for start-ups. Using his journalism training, Nick writes for publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. He concentrates on teaching small and medium-sized enterprises how best to manage their social media marketing and define their branding objectives.