Franchising can certainly make it easier to run a well-known company or brand, but you still have certain responsibilities. For every task that your franchisees handle, you’ll need a way to monitor it and make sure it’s effective. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to social media. Depending on the social media strategy you choose for your franchise, you’ll have to take on various responsibilities to make sure the accounts for your local franchises are appropriate and on message.
Most people think that setting up a social media strategy for your franchise is a binary choice, where you have to choose between giving every franchisee total autonomy or managing absolutely everything by yourself. However, that’s not actually true—there are actually several different social media strategies you can employ for your franchise. Most social media strategies for franchises can be grouped into one of four categories:
In a centralized social media strategy, your entire franchise is represented by a single social media hub—which you control entirely. This strategy is excellent for making sure that your content is always relevant and appropriate, but it can deprive your franchisees of meaningful connections with potential customers in their local areas. Because of this, a centralized strategy can make your brand seem a little cold and detached. You sacrifice a certain amount of authenticity for security’s sake.
2. Centralized Blend
In a centralized blend, you manage each of the accounts for your brand, but task the franchisees to produce regular content for them. This can be an effective way to make sure that your content stays on message, since you’ll be the final arbiter in every decision. Better yet, you can control the content without alienating your franchisees, who will still feel involved in the process. However, this strategy requires a powerful in-house team that can manage your social media empire effectively. Without one, your content can become inconsistent, or just flat and kind of boring.
A controlled social media strategy allows your franchises to manage their profiles individually, while you send the majority of their content from your corporate HQ. This method helps make sure that your franchisees can take active roles in growing their local branches, but to make it truly effective you’ll have to check up on local accounts every so often and ensure that their posts do not conflict with each other. This strategy can also make some franchisees more effective than others, since each local branch is likely to have different resources at its disposal.
If you want to make sure that your franchisees each have the strongest local voice possible, use a monitored strategy. You simply send guidelines to your franchisees, and allow them to control their own accounts. Be careful with this strategy—you’ll need to vet each potential new franchisee before you choose them, and make sure you can trust them to run their own social media account. You’ll also have to have a team working at corporate to inspect your local accounts regularly, so that you can avoid compliance or liability issues.
Choosing the social media strategy that you want for your franchise depends on numerous factors. How many resources do you have at your headquarters, and how can you afford to spend them? Will your business benefit more from letting each branch build strong connections with local customers, or will you be stronger by establishing consistent branding?
Whether you’re creating all the content yourself or putting out guidelines for local franchisees, you need to establish certain constants. Make sure that your content follows the rules of SEO and digital marketing—it should add value to the reader, use likely search terms, and include references to geographic regions with likely customers.
Social media strategies for franchises require certain unique considerations, but they’re still in the realm of digital marketing and should be treated as such. Take the time to analyze your audience and your resources before you start, and you should have no trouble deciding on the right strategy for your franchise.