Blog, Marketing

As social media marketing becomes increasingly competitive and over-saturated, franchisees are finding it challenging to use platforms like Facebook and Instagram effectively. Combined with brand parameters that may at times feel restrictive to their content (relative to non-franchise local businesses), franchisees often become discouraged and may fail to recognize the importance of local content marketing to gain brand exposure, build loyal relationships with followers and grow their business. By posting content that their members are compelled to share, franchisees will experience extra visibility at no cost. With the right tools and tactics, they can earn more social likes and shares to increase their digital presence—all while staying perfectly on brand.

Use Facebook’s algorithm to your advantage

In January 2018, Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize “meaningful interactions,” which includes posts from “friends, family and groups.” Facebook intended to filter out “less public content” or, at least, limit it. For businesses, this generally made it more difficult to gain visibility without investing ad spend to boost posts. But for the social media savvy, this change isn’t a challenge but rather an opportunity.

Franchisees can gain the upper hand by focusing on content that sparks interaction among their local community and customer base. Meaningful interactions count toward your engagement, which makes Facebook’s algorithm favor you and show your posts to more people in the future.

Dare to engage your audience

Increase interaction by sharing and posting user-generated content. People love being recognized by the brands and businesses they care about. Your followers will feel like you care about them and in return may even share your content with their followers. Feel free to shout-out your biggest fans and share the love.

To stand out from other businesses on social media and encourage reciprocal communication rather than just talking at your followers, consider asking questions and using fun prompts relevant to your customers’ interests that will give them a chance to be in the spotlight. Although cheap, point-blank calls to action like “share if you agree” or “use the reactions to vote” are judged unfavorably by Facebook’s most recent algorithm update, there are plenty of ways to stir up a conversation naturally. Your customers and followers are just waiting for the opportunity to share things about themselves, engage with your business, and interact with one another.

Keep up with your followers

While the content you share says a lot about your business, what your customers are saying about you matters even more—and your response to them probably matters the most. By constantly monitoring your local social media channels and responding to all comments, messages, and reviews, you are gaining more insight into what your customers are interested in, building loyalty among your followers, and even encouraging others to join in the conversation. Social media users crave more personal interactions—and you have the opportunity to provide exactly that.

Developments in technology have increased the viability of practicing social listening, responding to comments and reviews, and tracking hashtags, tags, and mentions from multiple social platforms across hundreds of franchise locations.

Host and promote events

From an open house to grand opening, workshops, anniversary parties and beyond, hosting a local event as a franchisee is an ideal opportunity to ramp up your social media exposure.

Start by creating a Facebook event page and be sure to promote it on-location as well. Any time your customers or followers RSVP via Facebook, all of their Facebook followers are notified about the event.

Posting content from the event itself, especially photos showing your customers and followers, will likely be shared on their profiles for all their friends to see. During an event hosted at your franchise location, encourage Facebook check-ins—which essentially let your customer’s friends know they visited your business.

Consistency is key

In the media world, one day you’re in and the next day you’re not. That’s why it’s important to post constantly and consistently. You have to remain cohesive and gain the attention of your followers. The more consistently you post, the easier it is to stay relevant, on trend, and top of mind. As you build a history of content, you gain valuable insight about the types of social posts that win the most engagement, shares, and visibility.

Never lose sight of your vision

While engaging with your followers is highly encouraged, all interactions should primarily align with your brand’s overall vision. Not only do you want to avoid confusing your audience and driving them away; by transmitting a consistent message, you are gaining more credibility from your audience, as well as increasing retention. The more on brand your business stays, the more identifiable you will become. And the more on brand dozens or hundreds of locations stay, the more identifiable your local business will become on a national or even global scale.

While optimizing your social media content can increase valuable web traffic and brand exposure, quite possibly the most important benefit is the relationships built between franchise businesses and their followers. As the digital world has become an overwhelming and intimidating place, consumers are straying away from sales pitches and looking for more authentic engagement from brands.

At iluma Agency, we enjoy helping hundreds of franchisees use social media to connect with their customers and qualified prospects. For a digital marketing approach tailored to your brand and your local market, please reach out to our team.

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Blog, Marketing

Since its launch in October 2010, Instagram has steadily evolved into a vital digital marketing tool for franchises to grow their social media presence and brand—especially at the local level. With nearly 1 billion active users, and especially popular with millennials, savvy businesses are catching on: They can use this platform to command attention from their target audience and separate themselves from the crowd. Now, as Instagram’s “Stories” feature gains increasing popularity, franchise business growth can happen in new ways.

Show the personal side of your business.

In a market saturated by companies seemingly selling the same product or service, your target audience learns to recognize (and ignore) traditional ads. From fun filters to Gifs, and even Boomerang videos, Instagram Stories lets you amp up your content with creative flare.

Show your company’s human side by using these features:

  • Filters
  • Text
  • Stickers
  • Gifs
  • Freehand drawing
  • Boomerangs
  • Location stickers
  • Hashtags
  • Music

Stand out from the “white noise” of endless social media and create Instagram Stories your followers will take the time to watch. Get creative:

  • DIY tutorials
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Staff takeovers
  • Exclusive Stories-only promotions

By infusing content with humor and originality, B2C companies are able to show a side of them that reduces fear of trial and helps build lasting relationships.

New features are continuously being rolled out, so be sure to check your phone for Instagram updates.

Be interactive to reinforce a strong sense of community.

With the addition of “polling” and “question” features, Instagram Stories has given its massive platform the feel of a small, tight-knit community.

The polling option allows your followers to vote for their favorite choice or select from pre-set answers (which could be as simple as “yes” or “no”) or even on a slider scale. As soon as they select an answer, they’ll be shown a screen that shows the most up-to-date poll results from everyone who answered. The questions option flips it around and allows your followers to send you questions to answer.

These options are especially appealing for membership-based franchises, including the hundreds of Orangetheory Fitness studios we work with. For a fitness franchise like Orangetheory, building a supportive sense of community both in studio and online is essential so members never feel alone on their fitness journey. The interactive component of Instagram Stories keeps members engaged and reminds them that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

No matter how near or far your customer is, you can make them feel included and involved—and even like they play a larger role in company decision making. Using Instagram Stories helps you reinforce the sense of belonging that customers so often crave from their favorite brand.

Leave a lasting impression.

Similar to Snapchat, content uploaded to Instagram Stories disappears after 24 hours—unless you take advantage of Instagram’s latest update: Story Highlights.

Story Highlights let you upload past stories for permanent display in a special section at the top of your profile. You can completely customize your Story Highlights section to exude a more cohesive and on-brand look.

Likely the first thing potential new customers see when visiting your profile, Instagram Story Highlights are an opportunity to showcase videos that elevate your brand.

Master Instagram’s algorithm.

Instagram’s complicated and unchronological algorithm attempts to compile a unique feed of content for every user based on their app activity. It works on a ranking system, primarily based on three factors: interest, recency, and relationship. This sounds great in theory, but a business who doesn’t spark interaction and engagement will find it challenging to gain more followers and will be seen less and less by the followers they already have.

Staying top of mind is key. By generating Instagram Stories your followers love to watch and interact with, the boost in engagement results in additional exposure for your Instagram content—and additional exposure for your brand.

Tell your story.

Social media is changing the way we interact with others—and that’s not a bad thing. Instagram Stories has opened up the lines of communication between businesses and their audiences and has created a distinct opportunity to ascertain a strong relationship with both clients and prospects. As brand awareness continues to serve an essential role in franchise growth, staying up to date with the latest social media marketing trends and creating your digital footprint is a necessity, not an option.

For innovative social media marketing strategy and management custom tailored to your franchise brand, schedule a call with our team.

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