Being a franchisee of a large chain means you are often limited in the ways you can market your individual store. Decisions about marketing generally come from the main office and there is little you can do to differentiate yourself from the other locations, even if there are marked differences in your menu, product line, location, hours, staff or intent.
That’s what can make social media your new best friend. It allows you to leverage the power of the brand, yet retain your individual identity. Of course whether or not you can use social media marketing as an individual unit is only possible if your franchisor permits it. Even if they do allow it, they can set limits; leave you to it all by yourself or dictate exactly how, when, where and why you use social media for marketing.
I read an excellent post at Mashable today by Taylor Hulyk, a social media director from Ann Arbor, Michigan, which specifically addresses the uses of social media marketing by by brand franchisees.
As Hulyk points out, there are some very specific questions you should ask yourself before embarking on the use of social media marketing. It’s not going to work as you hoped if you don’t have a clear idea about how best you can use it.
Hulyk’s list is a great place to start, once you know what is permissible with regard to your franchise rules. Assuming social media marketing for your individual franchise location is allowed, I suggest you get busy taking advantage of all social media marketing has to offer. And starting with a run through Hulyk’s list should be your first order of business.
For instance, are there components of your business that vary significantly location to location? All franchisees believe their markets are different, and, in fact, they often are. They may be urban or suburban. They may have customers with different demographics or socio-economic status. But are they so different that you accommodate that difference by allowing variation in your products, pricing, coupon offers, marketing, promotions, décor, etc.? If the answer is yes, entrusting franchisees with locally oriented social media may actually be more beneficial, not only for the customer, but for your workload too.
EXAMPLE: Buffalo Wild Wings does a great job delegating Facebook page management to individual locations. While content seems to vary by franchisee, an active presence, a hefty fan base and relatively regular level of interaction does not. Below you can see Buffalo Wild Wings’s Lynchburg, VA page regularly shares updates about specials, sporting events and in-store events.