A Franchisor’s Guide To Risk-Free Social Media
More than one million franchises operate in the U.S., including gyms, barbershops, yoga studios, hair salons, and fast food restaurants. Franchisors contribute $800 billion annually to the American economy and employ nine million people. Most entrepreneurs who franchise say they like the benefits of a strong common brand, training, and low failure rate that come with buying a franchise instead of launching their own venture. Like any business, however, franchises face risks to their brand equity or reputation.
Social media, in particular, poses a threat as one out-of-bounds franchisee can get the whole team penalized. Making a mistake, getting hacked, or having an intern accidentally post something offensive can generate serious consequences. At the same time, social media provides nearly unrivaled opportunities for creating high-volume and targeted brand awareness.
I know that franchise social media presents both opportunities and threats that a single small business owner wouldn’t face. So here’s a quick, easy-to-read guide to help franchisors protect their brand reputation on social media.
By 2021, more than 3 billion people around the world will use social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter still maintain the largest platforms, but your franchise’s ideal customers might be Snapping or Tumbling, too. Such massive social media use means messages travel fast, even when you wish they wouldn’t.
A franchise’s main value is its brand, and franchisors typically want to avoid any risk to their brand’s reputation on social media. They know that one franchisee trying and failing to be clever can bring down years of work building a trusted brand. They know franchisees need guidance to make sure what they post is good quality, on-brand, and not offensive. Plus, social media can be a hassle. It drains employees’ time and resources. That’s why many franchisors turn to social media automation options, which are great for organizing publications and tracking data, but they can’t control messaging.
If the franchisor does not control social media messaging it can damage the brand, ultimately leading to lost business and even bankruptcy. Some franchisors have become so fearful of getting it wrong in this name-it-and-shame-it age we live in that they stop doing social media altogether. Those guys miss out on a powerful brand building tool, and they stunt their corporate growth.
What Can Happen When Franchisors Fail to Manage Social Media?
- A Domino’s franchisee in Russia offered 100 free pizzas for 100 years to anyone who would tattoo the franchise’s logo on their skin. The company called their campaign “Domino’s Forever.” Apparently, Russian pizza lovers are happy to turn themselves into walking advertisements because Domino’s social media accounts got swamped with pics of body parts branded with the chain’s logo. The pizza maker had to limit the offer to the first 350 respondents and shut it down within days. I assume they’re still forking over 35,000 free pizzas a year to customers who show the tattoo.
- McDonald’s appeared to jump into the political fray with a tweet about President Trump: “You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have Barack Obama back, also you have tiny hands.” The problem was, McDonald’s never created that message! It was a hack job that would have done the old Hamburgler character proud. McDonald’s removed the offensive tweet before it could spread further on social. If the chain had taken stronger social media security measures, it wouldn’t have faced the embarrassment.
What Can Happen When You Take Control of Your Franchise Social Media?
But some major franchise companies are getting social media right:
- In this increasingly health-conscious era, Dunkin’ has pulled off a social coup d’etat. The donut franchise boasts more than 15 million Facebook followers and almost 1.2 million Twitter followers, but in a single day, the company responds to nearly every mention they get. Plus, they post interactive nutritional information and opportunities to win free goodies. No wonder their followers love them!
- Wendy’s has emerged as the king of fast food snark thanks to the quick-witted people behind its social media feed. One of its iconic Tweets came out when a customer sarcastically asked Wendy’s to point them to the nearest McDonald’s, and Wendy’s responded with a picture of a trash can. They’ve also launched friendly Twitter wars with Steak ‘n Shake and IHOP. Wendy’s is using just the right blend of friendly and snarky on Twitter to draw a new, younger customer demographic.
To help franchisors capitalize on social media’s potential for brand building, I started PromoRepublic, a better social media platform for franchisers and SMBs to manage their social media accounts. PromoRepublic offers branded content assets verified by the head office and pre-populates it to the franchisees’ content calendars. It’s a simple content management concept but designed specifically for franchises and multi-location brands.
The platform contains an overview of franchisees’ activity along with reports on the effectiveness of content pieces so franchisors can conduct A/B testing with the help of their franchisees. As the system gets used more, it learns more. That way, if one location generates great results from a single post, other locations can localize that post and use it in their markets. PromoRepublic also provides recommendations about what local content to post (because local is the winning word in marketing) and when along with providing templates containing other post ideas.
The whole system streamlines social media management and limits risk for the brand so the franchisor can sleep easy at night. It makes the brand stronger and earns more revenue not just for a single location but also for the entire franchise. You have your own social tool featuring constant innovation.
How cool is that?
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