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.