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The Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing for Franchise Owners

The Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing for Franchise Owners

Key Points

Franchise social media marketing can be a complex task that requires balancing the needs of the local community with the goals and guidelines of the franchisor. One way to navigate this challenge is to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that incorporates a variety of tactics, including digital media advertising and social media networks. These platforms can be utilized to effectively reach the target audience and promote the brand in a way that aligns with the overall goals of the franchise.

In addition, it is crucial to effectively schedule social media posts by considering the specific goals of the franchise and the interests and needs of the local community. This may involve creating a mix of posts that highlight the unique aspects of the local franchise, as well as posts that promote the broader brand.

By regularly reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of these efforts, local franchises can optimize their social media marketing strategies and achieve their desired results.

The key to effective social media marketing for franchise businesses is a strong strategy, but this can be challenging at the local level. When you own a local franchise and start using social media to market, you have to find a way to speak to your local audience while also fitting within the framework of a multi-location brand. This can sometimes result in a generic, national message that doesn’t resonate with the local community or culture.

In order to be successful, local franchise marketing efforts, including digital marketing, must meet several objectives simultaneously: align with the franchisor’s directives, convey the right brand messages, implement the franchise’s clear brand guidelines to maintain consistency, drive traffic to the local website, and show regular customers that they are seen and heard.

So, how can you stay on brand, have a budget for a social media strategy that drives business, maintain brand consistency, achieve social media marketing goals, keep the corporate office happy, and still have an authentic message on social media without a national budget?

Why leverage Social Media for local franchise locations

Why Social Media?

Fact: social media video receives just as many views as TV.

Having an effective social media strategy is essential for successful franchise social media marketing. Without a well-thought-out approach, it would be similar to marketing to customers on TV without a plan. Here are seven additional reasons why it is important for franchises to utilize a social media strategy:

7 Reasons Why Franchise Businesses Need a Local, Targeted Social Media Marketing Strategy

In today’s digital landscape, it is important for local franchises to maintain both traditional marketing channels and their own local social media channels in order to remain competitive. To be successful in franchise social media marketing, it is crucial to prioritize digital marketing strategy on a local level. Here are some reasons why:

 

1) Customer Service

If you have excellent customer service, showcase it on social media channels such as TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. Statista reports that customers spend an average of 147 minutes per day on social media, so meeting them there, especially when they need customer service, can win you local customers and help you build positive sentiment within the local community.

By responding to local customer complaints quickly, you can show off your personalized service skills and also be more responsive than the franchisor. You can also use social media to persuade potential customers to visit your establishment by providing directions and useful links. And by providing a positive, consistent, and entertaining social media experience, you can improve your local brand reputation.

What about negative comments?

It’s inevitable that a franchise business will receive some negative reviews online. In fact, about half of all consumer complaints occur on social media. However, if you handle these comments well, about half of consumers will share a positive response, and more than 33% will recommend your business to friends.

2) Market Insights

Just as customers can learn about your business online, you can also learn about them. Pay attention to your social media analytics, as they can provide insight into your messaging strategy. 

3) Earn Trust Locally

According to a report by Nerdwallet, 81% of shoppers research online, including social media pages, before making a purchase.

To build trust, post positive feedback and testimonials, and engage with your audience directly. The more they see you as a person, someone they follow online, the more likely they are to trust you.

4) Boost Brand Awareness

You can also reach new customers by localizing your content creation on social media using local hashtags and geotags. For example, if you participate in community events, you can use social media posts with local content to build an engaged community around your local franchise. If you have expertise that is relevant to your brand, showcase it on social media using targeted hashtags. Can you offer tips and advice that would be useful to locals? 

5) Promote Your Products & Local Events

Social media marketing allows you to share important news about new releases, promote local events and sales, share product stories, testimonials, and reviews, and more.

If you have a last-minute sale or local special, you can use social media to promote it. You can also use engagement tactics like contests and giveaways to build excitement in the local community for a new release or opening.

Here are a few more ways to use franchise social media to make your local franchisees stand out:

  1. Work with influencers: Build a social media marketing strategy with a local celebrity.
  2. Offer deals and promo codes: These can be specific to your location.
  3. Use targeted ads: Analyze your audience and keywords, let the creative team work on it, and then publish.
  4. Promote local events: Local events are a great way to engage with the community. Think grade school sports games, high school events, fundraisers, local colleges, charities, and community events. When you understand your local audience, it is easier for your marketing team to develop a digital marketing strategy that resonates with them.
  5. Use content marketing: Blogs and other forms of content marketing can have a hyper-local reach in search results. Even if you have a national audience, you can still use a local voice in your content and promote it on social media.

6) Job Recruitment

A positive social media experience can promote positive employee experiences and culture can help attract the best talent to you. In fact, a marketing strategy that focuses on job recruitment is one of the main reasons to be on LinkedIn. Point your digital marketing dollars there and your marketing team is sure to return qualified candidates.

7) Align your social media marketing team with corporate franchise goals

To effectively market at the local level, you need to understand the metrics and data from local-based analytics to improve your social media performance. However, this can be challenging when there is corporate oversight. It is important to align your local team with the corporate team using location-based analytics. With this data, franchisees can gain a deeper understanding of their local market and align with corporate teams. Data-driven decisions are the driving force behind successful brands, so it is important to invest in social media management tools to track key metrics such as engagement, clicks, growth, and views in order to adjust and increase local impact and effectively leverage social media content.

So, how can you make this work for you? Here are some guidelines to base your strategy around:

Guide to Social Media Strategy for Local Franchise Marketing

Guide to Social Media Strategy for Local Franchise Marketing

A Franchise social media marketing strategy has its own unique concerns and considerations. Follow the points below when you’re building out your plan.

Create Detailed Policies With Brand Guidelines For Brand Consistency

Unlike independent businesses which can do as they please, franchise owners need to know the parent brand guidelines before they can go about designing local franchise marketing efforts. Enforcing required corporate policies as a franchisor will help franchisees avoid any infringements of corporate policies, preserve expectations for suitable use of their social media accounts, and prevent any legal issues that could arise as a result in the form of a social media crisis.

  • In reality, this can make things easier since there should be an existing guideline to help get you started. All you have to do is chart a course in between the guard rails.

Make sure to thoroughly consider and clearly communicate the dos and don’ts of both your brand guidelines and specific franchise. While you may believe that a meeting or email is sufficient, it is important to create an easy-to-access document or file as a source of truth that employees involved in your social media presence can reference. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and able to adhere to the guidelines consistently.

For example, if you hold local events, you’ll need to let your social media strategy partner know which images are approved. Having an approved social media digital marketing file makes it easy to find.

Here’s a cheat sheet of what to cover:

  1. How you can use your logo

  2. Which colors and fonts make the most sense–this is important to consider especially in college sports, where colors carry a lot of meaning.

  3. Brand-approved local images.

  4. Design and copy templates.

  5. Voice, tone, mission, vision, and values documents.

To manage social media messaging, create a few pre-approved templates. They should be standard enough to please the brand but flexible enough to suit your needs for a local audience.

A social media management tool like Sprout or Hootsuite can help by creating a layer of approval before any posts go live.

Set Clear Goals

Without an objective, social media is a book with no plot.

Defining a few smart, measurable and realistic goals puts the goal posts in eyesight. They give you something to work toward and results that make sense.

Start by brainstorming goals and objectives. Get everything out there and then rank them for if they are attainable, smart, and doable, and think about a timeline to see results.

You only want to pick 2 or 3 goals at a time. Three or fewer…

  1. Focuses your messaging

  2. Increases chances of success

  3. Improves content quality

Set too many goals and you never very far on any of them. The same thing goes for too many social media accounts. It’s understandable to want to be the best on every channel, but if your social media strategy doesn’t have the budget, it’s better to set clear, achievable goals on just a few social media platforms rather than finance a vague social media presence on all of them.

Early-on goals include growing follower counts, boosting engagement, and driving traffic but as your social media presence grows, you can add things like offer redemption and membership sign-ups. Once you feel like you have your marketing strategy running smoothly, try another social media account.

 Design Your Messaging

Your messaging is the engine driving your three core pillars. It’s the value you provide. There are a few ways to go about it from a franchise marketing standpoint.

The brand vision and mission lead everything – they’re steering the ship. To stand out, a franchise has to define an important role on the boat for itself that keeps the captain on course.

Now consider the unique elements of your franchise that support that overall message. There are many ways to organize messaging but four elements stand out.

Vision:

If the overall message is that we improve lives, tell us the story of how you live up to that promise. Make an inspiring video. Come up with funny gifs and memes. Partner with local influencers who share your philosophies.

Utility:

If you are an expert in something, think of how it can provide utility to your followers. Things like tutorials, guides, and how-tos. What is your product’s utility?

Rebuttal:

Audit possible negative responses and workshop avenues for resolution. Get the brand to approve. You may not run every play by the book, but at least you’ll have a library of ideas to get you started and have a North Star.

Action:

Always think about the conversion funnel and don’t turn it into a strainer by putting so many CTAs the viewer has no idea what they should do and bounce. Be bold. What do you want the person to do? Create content that gets them there and use one CTA.

 Consider a Super Budget

One effective way for franchise locations to fund their social media marketing is to combine budgets through centralized asset management, rather than allowing individual franchisees to compete for their local audience. This creates a “social media marketing super budget” that allows all franchise locations to benefit equally. Without this approach, local franchisees may not have the budget of corporate leadership and may be left to pay for their own marketing and social media efforts. A corporate social media strategy can also drive growth for individual franchise locations.

Social media strategy super budget: When a franchisor does not have a budget for its local franchise social media marketing campaigns, regional groups can collaborate to pool resources and create a regional flare for the group of franchises. This allows them to effectively implement social media marketing strategies despite not having individual budgets

As all franchise owners know, you want every other business with your name on it to look good, whether it’s down the street or in another state.

When each franchise is an island, it creates a challenge to your social media presence when you are under the umbrella of a company’s guidelines and want to differentiate your own business from other franchises nationally . Pooling budgets from multiple locations in a given county or radius you can create a super budget for all the locations. So instead of one location paying for social media marketing for hyper-local content, a super budget is created for a more macro social media marketing campaign that adds more return on ad spend and cheaper budgets.

Local franchises that take advantage of a super budget create excellent buzz around their brand regionally, lifting up each location.

Get to Know Your Audience

This can be tough for a franchise business. Brands often have information painted in broad strokes. Local franchises need more nuance in their research.

Pay attention to your audience. Survey them directly. Ask which social media platforms they’re on, who they follow, and what kind of content they like most. You can also wing it by auditing your own followers and looking for trends in the content they respond to, who they follow, what else they like, what they post, and more.

 Choose Your Channels

One way of reaching your goals is to make sure you publish on the right apps.

You’ll always hear that each channel has its strengths and weaknesses. TikTok, for instance, is more viral, Instagram is more polished, LinkedIn is more business.

But it’s really about knowing where your audience is. If they’re on Twitter, explore the best way you can take advantage of that social media platform. Building a dream team to build out your content and get the posts seen.

 How many social channels should you operate?

Here’s what to consider:

  • Matching workload to the bandwidth of the team

  • Not spreading your content too thin

  • Post frequency

Even though it can be tempting to do it all, just having the lights on doesn’t produce any social media marketing magic. The content needs to be purposeful and provide value to the viewer, whether it’s entertainment, education, or inspiration.

You’re a franchise so you don’t have to do it all. Let the brand take care of most of it. Pick one or two you can master and start there.

 Create a Social Media Management Structure

A social media management system ensures your content gets made, approved, and published on time. You spend so much time and energy on making content, don’t drop the ball just as you’re getting ready to throw it. Make sure you have a social media management plan.

Most importantly, make sure you clearly assign the process of review and approvals that takes into account all needs for the content. Who approves of the creative? Who approves the caption? Does the brand need to see certain posts before they go live?

Make sure there’s a process that ensures best practices for your business are being followed.

 Use a Social Media Management Tool

To effectively manage your social media presence, it is important to have a few pre-approved templates that adhere to your brand guidelines but can also be adapted for local use. Tools such as Sprout Social or Hootsuite can assist with this by providing features for content creation, distribution, scheduling, promotion, and analysis. These platforms can also help keep your content organized and flowing if you are publishing on multiple digital platforms. In addition to tracking likes and comments, it is useful to utilize metrics to gain insight into trends over time and make informed decisions about where to allocate resources to reach your target audience. Both Sprout Social and Hootsuite offer a variety of features including scheduling, analytics, engagement, team collaboration, and social media listening.f

The wrap-up

Franchise social media campaigns can be tricky which is why a lot of business owners work with social media marketing partners to help. Your social media accounts are one of the most important links you have with your local community, local consumers, and your target market. They’re where people in our local market go for online reviews, and if your local team is more prepared than your corporate team to provide a positive social media experience, the investment will end up paying for itself and impressing the big guys up in corporate.

Kimberly Stricker

Founder / Social Media Storyteller
Kim Stricker is a social media strategist, social media marketer, and founder of Social Motto social media marketing agency in Detroit Michigan. Kim consults with brands and companies on how to use the digital space and Social Media tools in growing brands. She’s managed campaigns for Nonprofits, Fortune 500 Companies, and small businesses in how to effectively incorporate social media into an overall marketing mix, and excel in the medium by giving their brands a strong voice in the community. Kim offers strategic marketing insights that focus on brand building and communicating visions, products, and services through innovative social marketing campaigns. By becoming a brand advocate and expert, Kim can develop and optimize content for social media outreach including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, etc. In addition, she always maintains an awareness of new social media marketing techniques in the marketplace, as well as looking for opportunities to innovate in new territories.
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