Which is Best for Your Franchise Success?
Creating a social media strategy for any business is important, but it can be a little bit tricky if you own a franchise.
You know that you want to reach your audience right away and use your networks to offer promotions and announcements, but when you’re working with several different locations your audiences aren’t always the same. This means that the content you choose to share, who you choose to connect with, etc. might vary greatly.
The question that usually hits franchise owners, then, is easy: Is a centralized approach to a social media strategy best, or should I create more of a local approach for each location?
A Few Things to Consider about Social Media
Before determining what type of strategy, you should work toward when it comes to social media, it helps to know some of the things that go into managing social media. There are quite a few different layers to consider:
• You have to decide which social accounts would benefit you most.
The more social accounts you can create and actually manage (which means you’re being active on the account), the better. However, some companies benefit more from certain accounts. For example, photo-based networks like Pinterest and Instagram are great if you own a photography company. Know which accounts your audience uses most to determine which accounts you really want to sink your teeth into.
• You have to decide who will manage each account.
This is of course, the biggest reason that you have to determine what type of strategy you want for your franchise. If you have local accounts for social networks, someone local will probably manage that. This could cause you to run into consistency or organization issues, but more on that later.
• You have to decide how you’re going to gather and analyze the data that comes from social media promotion.
One of the greatest things about social media is the data you can collect from users. Many of the social media networks have built in analytics (Facebook for example), so you’ll need to have a plan set in place about how you’re going to use that data. You will also have to decide who will set up the page, but this is usually just a one-time thing that falls into the hands of whoever is managing the account. Many social networks have special pages for companies. With Facebook for example, there are several different types of Facebook pages for brands. You’ll need someone to determine which page is best and then set it up.
When a Centralized Social Media Approach Makes the Most Sense
Once you know some of the responsibilities that go into social marketing and management, you have to decide if a centralized social media approach is right for you. This essentially means that you will have one social account for each platform—Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.—for your entire franchise.
If this is the approach you choose, it generally means that someone at the national level will manage all of the accounts and/or hire one SEO/social media agency to manage the accounts. This helps ensure things are consistent. Below are a few instances where this might be your best option as a franchise owner:
• If your customers aren’t really using social media.
It’s always a good idea to know where your traffic is coming from or why customers are heading into your shop. Consider putting a little survey on one of your landing pages (after someone has converted, perhaps) or in your store that asks people how they heard about you. Also take a look at the number of people visiting your social media accounts. If your customers don’t seem to be getting their information from social media too often, it’s probably best to just have a unified strategy in place. It’s just easier that way.
• If you have one dominant audience or location.
Of course, this is the most obvious sign that a centralized approach is right for you. If you own franchises but they are all in the same area and can offer the same coupons and content, there really is no reason to have more than one social media account for each franchise. If all of your franchises are in rural areas and target the same age group, you’re dealing with a pretty similar audience across the board so there is no need to make things complicated by splitting up your social accounts by
• If your business works with a lot of confidential information.
This isn’t overly common, but if you deal with sensitive information at all you need to be careful who is managing your social media accounts. If you have an account for each branch then you have a lot of people out there representing your brand. If something slips it’s hard to recover because social media works so quickly, so I often recommend to anyone who could get into legal trouble to keep all social efforts in one place.
When Each Local Branch Should Control Social Media for the Most Success
Having a local approach means that each individual branch of your franchise would have its own social media accounts. Therefore, your franchise would have one Facebook page for your location in Illinois, one Facebook page for your location in California, etc.
This approach isn’t quite as common as the first, but it can be the most successful for some companies that have some of the following characteristics:
• You don’t have a lot of locations.
If you have hundreds of locations, this is obviously not an approach that would work for you. Even splitting up your locations half and half could get confusing, so this method really only works if you just have a handful (5-7) different locations.
• There are significant differences in audience between each location.
The whole reason you would want to have different accounts for each location is if you think you need very different content. If your locations cater to different audiences or offer different products, what you’re going to promote on your social accounts is going to be different. Remember that you always want to put out the most relevant content possible, so having two different accounts is oftentimes the only answer for these types of companies.
Extra Tip: Whichever strategy you decide to use should also coincide with your SEO efforts. SEO and social media often go hand-in-hand, so you want to make sure they are on the same page. You can visit our last article to learn more about managing SEO and content at the national vs. the local level.
About the Author
Adam Heitzman is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO firm that offers a full range of internet marketing services.
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