3 Tips to Earn Franchisee Buy-In on Your Social Media Strategy

This article originally appeared on Franchise Business Review and has been reposted with permission.

As a franchisor, you have a certain obligation to help your franchisees succeed. They buy in to your franchise with the expectation they’ll get the support they need — and you don’t want to let them down. If they win, you win.

Your social media strategy is one item high on the list of factors that may contribute to their satisfaction levels, or lack thereof. If you have a solid social media marketing plan and a way for them to execute it, it makes it easy for them to buy in to your strategy.

However, if your plan lacks structure and details, it’s not likely your franchisees will participate in social media marketing for your brand. To make sure you earn franchisee buy-in on your social media strategy, implement the following tips.

Tip #1: Have Both a Corporate and Local Strategy

You can and should supply franchisees with branded content that includes the proper colors, fonts and messaging. If you don’t, you risk franchisees either posting off-brand content or posting nothing about your brand.

At the same time, you’ll want to encourage franchisees to post local content from their locations. Photos of their location, employees, customers and special events or promotions will help them build a local customer base and drive online and offline traffic. It will also help them put their best foot forward when looking to attract new hires.

At the local level, too, franchisees need to be responding to their online reviews from the major review platforms, including Facebook, Google My Business and Yelp. With or without your franchisees’ participation, customers are leaving reviews about individual locations. Responding to those reviews, whether positive or negative, ensures your franchisees are able to manage their reputation and address any issues that may arise.

How to get their buy-in: Make your corporate assets available to them in a central marketing platform where they can quickly grab and use them. Supply them with promotional materials they can use at the local level and boost on social media for more exposure. It should be easy for them to schedule and manage posts as well as respond to customer comments and questions. The easier, the better so they’ll be likely to participate on social media.

You can also supply franchisees with tips on responding to their online reviews. Encourage them to respond professionally and courteously to any review as well as take discussions offline if they have to interact with a disgruntled customer.

Tip #2: Provide Brand Guidelines

In addition to providing assets, make sure you’re offering guidance on how you want your brand to be presented on social media. Supply them with brand guidelines that include your corporate logo, colors, fonts, mission statement and messaging style.

Spell out what’s acceptable and unacceptable — for example, do you encourage the use of humor? Being funny and social is generally a good idea on social media, but set boundaries so as to avoid anything off-color, offensive or outside your brand’s tone of voice.

You should also set certain KPI guidelines as a brand and for individual locations. If you have an overall company goal to reach X number of followers, for example, you can let locations know how much you’d like them to contribute to that goal.

How to get franchisee buy-in: Give your operators some best practices to follow, such as how many times to post per day, which platforms should be their primary focus (say, Facebook and Instagram), top hashtags to use, and any local offers to push or monthly areas of focus as a brand (maybe you have a fall promotion or theme, for example).

Beyond that, incentivize franchisees in some way to participate in your social strategy. Keep tabs on top performers who are consistently posting, engaging with their audience and growing their following. Generate a little healthy competition amongst franchisees so they’ll get on board with your strategy and goals.

Tip #3: Support an Ad Strategy

Does your franchise organization provide social media ad support for franchisees? If not, consider dedicating some portion of your marketing budget toward franchisee social media. Supporting franchisees with local ad spend makes it easier to drive local business and increase overall brand awareness.

Boosting content ensures that a page’s followers see the content that a franchisee is serving up on its pages. Advertisers can get targeted with these boosted posts, selecting their desired audience by demographics, interests, geographic locations and other factors.

Keep in mind, Facebook won’t necessarily serve up all of a page’s content in followers’ newsfeeds. That means that even if a page has 4,300 followers, not all of them will see a post. And while hyper-local, organic content featuring real people, places and things will likely get some engagement and reach, it’ll do even better if it’s boosted — increasing the chances that a local operator reaches its desired customer base.

To choose which posts to boost, franchise operators can look at their analytics to see which posts have performed well in earning likes, shares, comments and clicks. Even a small budget of $50 per month will help a franchisee improve their following and drive engagement, traffic and sales.

How to get franchisee buy-in: Some franchisors choose to pay for their franchisees’ boosted ads, either in part or in full, by allocating a monthly spend toward boosted advertising. Let your franchisees know how much you’re willing to chip in, and then walk them through the steps to boost content.

The tips above will give you a great start in implementing a brand-wide social media strategy that supports your overall and location-specific goals. The more involved you are, the more likely it is your franchisees will be, too — and the happier everyone will be with the results of your social media marketing efforts.

If you’re looking for more practical ideas you can start implementing in your own system to keep franchisees engaged, check out this eBook, The [Franchise] Happiness Project, to guide your next steps to break beyond any performance plateaus — whether in social media or elsewhere in your franchise organization.