Did you know that 2.206 billion, or 30 per cent of the world’s population are actively participating on social media networks? Social media provides franchises with a huge opportunity to expand brand awareness. However, the challenge of managing brand messaging across the franchise network makes many hesitant to dive in. The fact is that franchises whose social media strategy focuses on maintaining consistency and control across the franchise network are in a strong position to capitalize on social media marketing opportunities.
Many companies focus on going “viral” on social media, which is a term used to describe a social media post or campaign that quickly spreads across social media channels and the Internet, reaching a widespread audience (like a virus, hence the name). Although going viral is a marketing goal for many brands, it’s only achieved by a select few. Why is that?
Simply put, if going viral on social is one of your marketing goals then your marketing strategy is misguided. Just like people who are cool aren’t trying to be cool, posts that try to go viral usually don’t. Instead, your franchise’s marketing strategy should focus on maintaining brand consistency across your social media network (including local franchisees), developing organic connections with your followers and sharing your brand story. If you can achieve these goals then you’ll enjoy a return on investment (ROI) over time, which is a social media win.
There are instances where negative posts, pictures or videos have gone viral to the detriment of a franchise. Brands who focus on training their franchisees on using social media will be less likely to struggle to control the brand message. It is advantageous to give your franchisees the freedom to post on social media, but you must have a clear policy in place which governs their behaviour and clearly states what is and is not acceptable to say, do, support and post. This policy needs to ensure that content and visuals uphold brand values and maintain brand consistency at all times.
Ultimately there is no winning recipe for a social media campaign or post. In fact, predicting what will trend on social is extremely difficult. However, these four social media tips will help your franchise produce content that is valuable to both your consumers and your brand.
1. Make it Visual
No matter which social media channel you’re on your social media posts need to have a visual component. Visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than other types of content . In fact, content with relevant images receive 94 per cent more views than content without and tweets with images receive 150 per cent more re-tweets than tweets without.
What kinds of visuals should you use for your social media campaigns?
- Coloured visuals – increases people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80 per cent .
- Images – it’s best to use images created or taken by you (Canva is an easy way to make attractive images easily), but it’s also okay to acquire free photos from photo sharing sites like Flickr or MorgueFile. However, it’s really important that you have the right to use and distribute any images you put up on your social media channels so read the fine print on these sites closely to make sure you have the authority to use the images you select. You can also purchase images through sites like Getty Images, CanStock or Istock
- Videos – were recently identified as the type of content with the best ROI by 51.9 per cent of marketing professionals worldwide. Make sure you put your videos on YouTube, which is the second largest search engine (it has over 1 billion unique visitors a month). In addition to YouTube it’s important to share your videos across your social media channels because 90 per cent of online shoppers find videos helpful in making decisions and 75 per cent of executives watch work-related videos at least once a week.
- Infographics – are liked and shared on social media three times more than any other type of content. Use of infographics as a B2B content marketing tactic jumped from 51 per cent to 62 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
- Memes, screenshots and presentations – are all forms of visual content which are easy to share on social media.
2. Make it Fun, Easy and Heartwarming
Social media campaigns that are fun to do, easy to share and support a good cause gain traction on social. The ice bucket challenge successfully went viral and raised over 100 million dollars for ALS because it was fun, easy, memorable and supported a good cause.
Consider starting with a franchise-wide challenge. Encourage your franchisees to get involved (you could even offer them incentives to participate). Your franchise is already a powerful network, and if your network works cohesively then you’ll be able to add momentum to any social campaigns you plan to run – this is an advantage that other businesses don’t have.
3. Make it Trackable
It’s important that you can track your social media posts to see how far they reach and whether they earn a return on investment. Many social media channels like Facebook and Twitter have their own analytics running, but you still need to use a clever hashtag (#) to track your campaign. When others use the # symbol or mention your franchise (with an @) you can easily find and communicate with your followers and your brand won’t get lost in the frenzy should your campaign ever go viral.
Remember to segment your reporting by location and use that geographic information to the advantage of local franchisees. If you allow local franchisees to get involved with social media, then you should take a look at what they are doing – their success could be easily repeated across other areas of your franchise network for a greater impact.
4. Don’t Make It All About You
Successful social media posts and campaigns are very rarely directly about a company, product features or description of services. Sales-heavy posts just don’t perform well. You can, however, find creative ways to feature your products while making the post all about your audience.
There is no secret formula for a successful social media campaign. However, through a consistent, coordinated effort franchises can use social media to grow their consumer base, develop connections with consumers, tell their brand story and share valuable content.
Don’t let the additional challenges that social media poses to franchises limit your business from accessing a market with billions of potential customers. Instead, create a clear social media policy that focuses on brand consistency and ensure your strategy encompasses visual elements that are clever, fun, trackable and focus on your audience (not you). If you do, your franchise will build a strong social media base and enjoy a solid, long-term return on investment from your social media efforts.