Social media can be an excellent marketing tool for a franchise brand, if done correctly. However, if you have little experience in the social marketing area, social media can turn into a nightmare. To avoid the stress down the road, here are some quick tips to follow when first setting up social media accounts for your franchise system.
A Documented Plan
Before starting your social media efforts, you should have a detailed, documented plan in place. Your social media plan should be documented in your Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), and include the overall branding/positioning (the “voice”) of your business, and the target audience you’re trying to reach. It should also specify what content can and cannot be posted by franchisees, the goals you want to obtain from your social media efforts, and other specific guidelines for franchisees to follow. A major part of this plan is identifying who will be in charge of each account – you, as the corporate entity, or each individual franchisee?
Create an Account
When first deciding which social media platforms to use, it’s best to start with the most common social networks: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. As the franchisor, you have the option of having one main enterprise account, or having individual franchisee accounts. If you choose the latter, when creating the accounts, it is important to have all relevant franchisee information. This information includes, but is not limited to, the street address, phone number, hours of operation, and the franchisee’s website link. This will be helpful for you when tracking individual franchisees and provides user-friendly information for customers.
Naming Franchisee Accounts
If choosing to have multiple franchisee accounts, it is advised to specify the location of the different franchisees within the name. For example, Carrabba’s Italian Grill has a main franchisor page, and then each franchisee location is given its own title – for example, “Carrabba’s Italian Grill – South Tampa.” Along with creating an account name, you should also have a customized URL; sticking with Carrabba’s, its URL is www.facebook.com/Carrabbas. This is a simple, yet vital part of the setup process and can be changed under theSettings tab in any social media platform. Having a specific URL for your business will help maximize your company’s rankings on search engine results, such as Google or Bing. You should be aware that while having a social media account for each one of your franchisees can be a great way to give them some control over their local social media marketing, it can also create a loss of branding and messaging control on your part. If you choose to go down this path, it’s important to define that control and maintain it, especially when it comes to passwords.
It is extremely important when creating these accounts that you, as the franchisor, have all of the logins for each of the franchisee locations – this cannot be stressed enough! You should set different passwords for each franchisee account, and then share the password information with each location individually. All of the passwords can be stored in a database as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, or they can be stored in a password management and sharing service such as Passpack or LastPass. These are excellent security tools and can be extremely helpful when needing to change a franchisee’s account information. As a franchisor, you know there are many day-to-day challenges associated with running a franchise system; some are preventable, others are not. Social media should not be a major concern for you and can be much simpler to manage when dedicating yourself to properly setting up the accounts in the beginning. Take the time to make a social media marketing strategy and utilize these tips to have a smooth sailing social media startup.