Published February 4, 2013
Social media is a funny thing. In the business world – and perhaps more so in the franchising world – it’s used by most and really understood by relatively few. It’s comprised of an ever-growing number of sites and apps, but usually thought of in terms of just 2 or 3. Even more amazing is that there is no consensus on the usefulness of social media as a marketing tool at all. Some of you reading this will swear by the lead-generating potential of your Twitter account, while others will collectively dismiss it all as a massive time suck.
So, how do you approach social media in a franchise system? There’s no single answer, but there are two main aspects you would be well served to define: Policy and Purpose.
Policy is the more difficult of the two. It includes several concerns. How autonomous are franchisees in what they post? Is there a content formula they need to follow? How will response be tracked? How much time should they spend on social media per week? What do they do when negative comments appear? We’re just getting started…
Despite the cornucopia of potential headaches, you’ll want to examine these issues. Make sure your franchisees know from the start the corporation’s view of social media. This will ensure a level of consistency throughout local social accounts and will help track overall progress and compare best practices. In other words, do not wait for franchisees to get confused, criticized, or competitive with one another (or the corporate accounts!).
Purpose is somewhat easier to handle. It’s a basic analysis of where you want to be, socially, and what you want to say. Will you be trying to generate new customers? New franchise prospects? Are you trying to have your news items picked up by the media? Identify your goals, and where the target(s) for your messaging is. Focus on those sites and define what the role of the corporate accounts will be as compared to the local franchise accounts.
I’ve seen some very organized social hierarchies in franchise systems, and I’ve seen some that are bordering on chaos. Even if you’re not about to buy into the business value of a social presence, your franchisees will; it’s up to you to clearly define how to approach social messaging as an organization. Your franchisees will appreciate the direction and support, and you will appreciate the streamlined supervision and response time.
Michael Kupfer is the Online Marketing Manager of Franchise Business Review and administrator of Frantopia.com – a collaborative social space for franchisees, providing free resources and open discussions to help franchisees and their businesses grow.