In today’s ever-changing world of business, technology is key and social media is an essential ingredient to growth. Branding, building brand loyalty, engaging with consumers, getting to know your audiences and target markets, growing your market at a quicker rate than normal-all are achievable through social media. Small business owners and franchise owners can optimize the power of social media to benefit their brand, and in some cases, create greater brand loyalty than larger businesses.
When social media was first introduced to the franchise world, owners and franchisors were extremely hesitant; in fact they weren’t even sure social media was necessary. After all, to many critics, social media was “just a trend.” It wouldn’t have any lasting effects or significant impact on the business world, especially in the franchising world. Now, it’s clear that most franchisors, franchise owners, large and small business owners understand that social is a critical element to their branding and marketing.
The challenges of franchising and social media are much more complicated than just general business and social media challenges. A large or small business has its one main account on various social platforms. A franchise system can have its main corporate accounts, and then each individual franchisee account on multiple platforms. That’s a lot of accounts to monitor, measure, analyze and maintain feedback. It can be daunting and confusing. Not to mention that each franchisee can have control over their accounts, (as long as they are in compliance to brand standards per their franchise agreement). If an owner chooses to only post whenever they feel like or remember to, they can. Or what if they aren’t sure how to respond to feedback or comments made on their social pages? Social media training should be implemented for each franchisee. Each owner should receive basic social media training for their platforms, such as:
- How to respond during a PR crisis?
- How to handle negative feedback?
- How to handle positive feedback?
- What types of posts are appropriate for the brand?
- What is the brand’s tone on each social media platform?
- How to run contests for their local market on each platform?
- How to use the advertising tools on each platform?
As well as necessary training, the franchisor should create a social media plan or policy for franchisees to follow and refer back to when needed. How do you create a social media plan or policy?
- Sit down with franchisees and get a feel for what they already know and what they don’t. Chances are you will have a wide range of social media knowledge and experience-from beginners to experts.
- Allow franchisees to discuss what they want or need from the policy, aside from basic or common rules and regulations. What are their ideas as far as posts are concerned? What are they most uncomfortable with in using social? What are they most unprepared for?
- Possibly consult with a social media strategist or company who can offer a foundation upon which to build or start your policy.
Social media isn’t going away. If anything, its presence is growing stronger and stronger, especially in the world of business. Franchises can no longer choose to ignore this presence if they wish to maintain an advantageous growth path and brand loyalty. Change and innovation are crucial elements that must be adapted to and accepted to achieve goals and maintain prosperity in any business. t’s time for more franchises to harness social media and to provide their owners with the tools and training necessary to optimize social media to its greatest potential, and to allow it to play an extraordinary role in franchise and small business growth.