As a franchisor, one of your biggest concerns is brand integrity. If you’re a growing company with just a few locations, you may lack the resources needed to hire additional employees to monitor your online messaging and brand strategy. If you’re a larger company with hundreds of locations and multiple Facebook pages, you may find it difficult to make sure each franchisee is putting out content reflective of your brand voice. In either case, the answer can be found in understanding today’s on-demand economy and the importance of technology in your approach.
Advertising has always been about staying ahead of the game. While traditional advertising serves an important purpose, it is largely insufficient on its own. Over the past 25 years we’ve seen a transition in advertising from traditional to digital to social media. And recently we’ve seen yet another fundamental shift toward mobile and local content.
This is simply a consequence of the on-demand economy in which we now live. Consumers are less and less persuaded by the push/pull strategies of the past. They require quality, locally curated content and a relationship-centric approach.
A brand that posts local content is a brand that shows it cares about the communities in which it operates and a brand that people are more likely to engage with. Pages with truly local content can expect to see exponentially higher reach and engagement that will ultimately translate to increased brand loyalty.
Franchises present a unique challenge when it comes to local social management. How do you balance a local social campaign with an overall brand strategy?
Brand Strategy + Messaging + Consistency x Local Franchisees = Chaos
In approaching this challenge, it is important to note that franchisee concerns are very different from those of the franchisor. While corporate players may be focused on brand image, distribution, and PR, franchisees may be more concerned about staying connected to their community, getting enough people through the door, or simply having enough time to dedicate to online engagement.
All of these concerns are important to consider in determining your social media strategy. Here are three approaches to consider.
1. Top Down Approach
What it looks like: Corporate publishes the majority of posts uniformly across branded pages and reviews are managed from a centralized point. Some localized posts are allowed with approval from the corporate team. This is the most common approach among franchises because it tends to be the easiest to implement.
Advantages: Corporate control and consistency of messaging.
Disadvantages: Less online engagement and less community connection.
Tech Needs: Social tools that can mass-distribute posts, restrict permissions, and centralize social reviews and responses.
2. Bottom Up Approach
What it looks like: Corporate yields the majority of control to the franchisees to distribute localized content and respond to online reviews. Some corporate posts are distributed on the local level. This approach requires training franchisees to use different social media platforms and create engaging content.
Advantages: Truly local content and genuine community engagement.
Disadvantages: Less control of brand messaging, unreliable or inexperienced franchisees, and no guaranteed posting.
Tech Needs: None or a social platform that limits rights and requires content approvals.
3. Integrated Approach
What it looks like: Corporate controls messaging from the top through approvals and permissions. Reliable and competent franchisees can be given more flexibility, while others can receive corporate curated messaging. This approach requires a social management platform and training, but allows for corporate oversight and franchisee opt-out.
Advantages: Move at your own pace, retain corporate control of messaging, lower risk, and still get localized engagement.
Disadvantages: More planning and training.
Tech Needs: Franchise social media software that allows content approvals, roles and permissions, and localization capabilities.
An integrated approach is the best solution. It helps retain brand integrity while also allowing local franchisees to be involved and engaged with their communities online. For this approach you will need to leverage a social media management platform that allows you to assign roles and permissions, grant content approvals, localize and post to multiple pages at once, and centralize reviews from all the top social media and review sites.
Lava Surf allows you to implement this integrated approach with ease. Though it will require some extra training, it will allow your brand to move at its own pace. If you’re nervous about diving into local social right away, you can take your time and implement your strategy in phases. We recommend a Crawl, Walk, Run strategy:
Crawl: corporate control
Walk: test the waters by allowing specific, trusted franchisees to have more freedom
Run: train and roll out brand-wide
To find out more about how you can implement this integrated strategy with your business, feel free to contact us here.