Should Each Franchise Have Its Own Social Media Strategy?
Owning franchises can be tricky because you have different locations to manage, several different teams of workers to train and keep up to speed, and many managers who all try to work together and improve the company. Social media, however, has added a new level of contemplation for those who own a company with several different branches. You can’t help but ask yourself: Should I create a social media strategy and manage social media for all of the franchises, or should I put this into the hands of each local company?
The question is tough because social media promotion goes far beyond simply tweeting out content. When you work with several different franchises, you have to determine who will develop the social media posts, who will design the pages, who will post the content, and who will measure the success and analyze the data gathered from social media promotion. In the end, it really depends upon the type of franchise you own.
When a Centralized Approach Is Best
A centralized approach simply means you will have one social account on each social channel—Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn—for the entire franchise. This means that the national branch manager is in charge of either managing or hiring someone to manage these accounts. This helps to keep things consistent and maintain the reputation of the brand. A few instances where this is the best strategy include:
- Customers aren’t using social media. You will want to analyze where your consumers are finding information. The best way to make this happen is to ask. Have all of your locations ask customers whether or not they use social media to find information (any information, not necessarily about your company). If your customers don’t seem to care, it’s probably easiest and the most cost effective to have a unified approach rather than target specific customers in specific areas who don’t use social media in the first place.
- If your business deals with confidential information. It’s important to consider what it is your business actually does. Industries like the health industry have to be incredibly careful when it comes to sharing information with the public. Social media is a type of marketing that gets out to the public immediately and is seen by thousands before you have a chance to realize you’ve made a mistake. If there is any chance that you could get into legal trouble because of something you say, it’s important not to put social media in the hands of your local branches.
- If you want something more cost effective. Part of giving franchise mangers control over social media is training, and this can cost time and money. It is important that you create a training manual to make sure your brand is represented correctly, and in many cases it makes sense to hire someone to teach your staff about how to analyze social media data and improve outreach. This all costs a pretty penny, so if you’re looking to save money it might be best to have a centralized approach (at least at first).
It’s important to realize that taking social media into the hands of the national branch doesn’t mean things will be easier to manage. It might be a safer option, but you still may need to hire a team to keep things in order.
When Social Media Should Be Left In the Hands of Local Branches
This approach might be a bit more risky at first, but once you speak with all of your locations and make sure everyone is on the same page, a system should start to form and things should run smoothly. A few instances where a decentralized approach works best include:
- Significant location-to-location differences. You will want to analyze just how different your customers are from location to location. This means analyzing everything from the actual location of the franchise (rural, urban, suburban, etc.) to the demographics of customers. If these differences are enough that your products and other marketing tactics vary from location to location, your social media strategy probably should as well.
- Franchise control with other marketing initiatives. Chances are that social media is the last form of marketing to really be put in place. Therefore, it’s important to look at what marketing responsibilities you have given all of your franchise locations thus far. If you have felt comfortable giving your branch managers control over the reputation of the brand in the past, social media might not need to be any different.
Do you own several franchises and have decided one approach is better than another? Tell us your story and what has worked for you in the comments below.
Photo Credit: blog.hubspot.com
Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger in the SEO/social media department at HigherVisibility.com, a leading SEO for Franchises.