Apr 25 How to Coordinate Social Media Marketing Across Franchises
If your brand is now franchised, then your social media marketing efforts may have just gotten a bit more complex. First of all, let us be quite clear, we have found, through our own extensive experience, that having independent social media handles for each individual franchise is a slippery slope. We’ve pointed out below some of the fundamental challenges that you’ll face with this strategy, and ultimately why it’s likely not worth the investment of time and resources. However, should you choose to go that route, we’ve pulled together some things you’ll want to consider along the way.
The fundamental issue here is that franchises are in a limbo between being a large corporate entity and being a small to medium-sized local business. In the case of the former, you’d have only a single global handle to refer to across channels, but in the case of franchises, you often have independent owners who want to promote their store and specials under their own local handle. (i.e. Buffalo Wild Wings global and then Buffalo Wild Wings Dearborn on Facebook). So what’s a company to do with this dilemma? In our experience, managing multiple handles for local franchises is a dicey splintering of brand identity that’s likely not worth the investment of time and resources. And here’s why:
Fracturing Your Audience
The move from a single, global handle to a series of local franchise-run handles will inevitably fracture your audience. For instance, if a user is trying to find 7-Eleven’s official handle but a search on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram turns up a disorienting multitude of local 7-Eleven handles, you immediately run the risk of losing that user to any one of those local handles. If they’re following the local store then the incentive to also follow the global handle diminishes considerably, unless they’re truly die-hard brand advocates, which won’t be the norm.
Inconsistent Brand Voice
Another reason that dividing your social media marketing efforts across franchises can (and very likely will) backfire is the inherent difficulty in controlling your brand’s message. If independent franchisees are able to post any social content that they deem appropriate, it’ll be harder for you to control your brand’s social tone of voice as well as your messaging tracks. A cohesive social strategy will lead to a cohesive brand voice, while a splintered social strategy will lead to many different, seemingly unrelated voices.
Global Dunking Donuts
Local Dunkin Donuts
Customer Care Suffers
Yet another reason not to break up social efforts among individual franchises is the fact that it all but kills any semblance of streamlined customer service. Providing social customer care is a tough and time consuming job in the first place. We know that 1/3 of customers expect a response within 30 minutes. Odds are that the owner of the franchise has a jam packed schedule, between forecasting inventory, managing a team, receiving orders, etc. In fact, it’s likely that your average franchise is so busy that tending to the customer complaints that come through the local social page may not be a top priority. This additional degree of separation between customer complaint and customer service can make issues harder to track and resolve and you even run the risk of complaints not being answered at all. Instead, if you have only one global property for incoming customer complaints with a dedicated community manager handling the reactive then your customer care will be stronger.
With all that being said, you can see how reigning in franchise pages can be such an uphill battle. So, if having a series of local franchise handles is unavoidable, or if it makes sense strategically for your brand to have these franchise pages, then there are a couple of things we’d encourage you to consider.
Roll out a social toolkit or playbook
Create one place that has streamlined guidance on the social tone of voice, visual identity of the brand, and example posts. When new products are unveiled, roll out a social activation toolkit with creative and copy for each channel. By doing this, you can streamline the message and content as much as possible across however many local franchise handles. Do remember though that this means some of your followers will get the same message from more than one handle.
Get A Social Listening Tool
Consider a social listening tool that will pull in customer complaints from the local pages so that the global CM can respond in a timely and appropriate manner, like MomentFeed or Sprinklr. Employing these tools may well be the difference between holding on to and strengthening a customer relationship or losing that customer for good.
Like I said before, duplicating social media marketing efforts between your brand’s official handle and the handles of local franchisees is a slippery slope. However, if it has to happen, for one reason or another, then we strongly urge you to take the precautions mentioned above to avoid letting your brand’s voice from becoming disjointed.
What are your thoughts on global vs. local brand handles? Let us know in the comments below!