How franchise brands can get more value from social media

In 2015, it’s no longer about whether or not your brand has a social media presence; it’s about whether you are making the most of that presence to grow your business.

There’s a staggering 13 million active Facebook users in Australia, LinkedIn has more than 5 million while 2.8 million Tweet. Businesses continue to make up an increasing number of these profiles.

The reality is, even if you don’t have a Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn profile, your customers, competitors and peers are likely already talking about you there — both the good and the bad. It’s simply a matter of whether you are prepared to join those conversations and influence your stakeholders, or else lose the engagement opportunity all together.

So how can you get more value from social media and take your franchise to the next level? Here’s my top four tips:

  1. Develop a clear strategy It seems obvious, but you need to think about social media the way you would any other professional marketing or communications tool. Too many businesses simply decide to set up a Facebook page and share a few updates and images and then get frustrated when the likes don’t come flooding in. A social media strategy needs to map your target audiences, research what social media platforms your market is active in, and develop an effective social media content plan through which to engage with them.
  2. Create content plans Next you need to decide the content pillars that will make up the majority of your posts and map them out over a month or week to develop a content schedule. Whether its images of healthy food, the latest economic figures or social events taking place in the local area, you need to think about the topics and themes that reflect your brand and resonate most with your target audience. Keep Left client Endota Spa is a great example of knowing your audience and sharing original content their clients want to engage with. A scroll through the beautiful images on their Facebook and Instagram profiles and you can’t help but feel relaxed — you can almost smell the lavender oil.
  3. Professional development and networking Social media shouldn’t only be about your brand’s presence. As a leader, your personal social media engagement can be a great advertisement for your company, while providing new networking and learning opportunities. Our client the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) manage a LinkedIn discussion group, which is a good place to start. With more than 400 members from a wide cross section of the Australian franchising community including franchisors, franchisees consultants and industry experts, the group is a fantastic forum for open discussion about everything franchising. Having some of the industry’s leading minds available to answer questions and share their thoughts is valuable resource.
  4. Franchise recruitment While your brand persona on social media can help attract potential franchisees, LinkedIn is a platform where you can actively target new recruits.

A LinkedIn company Page should be the digital shopfront of your brand. It is where you can share company updates and career opportunities and gather powerful testimonials from customers and employees.

Surprisingly, very few Australian franchise brands are utilising LinkedIn company pages to their full potential. Aussie home loans and Smartline Personal Mortgage Advisers are two best practice examples.

In addition to their keyword rich and regularly updated company home page, each has a ‘Careers’ tab which includes YouTube videos showing what it is like to work for the company. They highlight referrals from franchisees and employees and advertise franchise opportunities and other corporate positions that are available.

One of the great things about social media is that it’s a true leveler. No matter how big or small your franchise is, every brand has the ability to create a strong digital presence. So take a fresh look at your social media presence and how you could be getting more value from your engagement with customers, suppliers and potential franchisees.

Tim Lele is an Account Manager at Keep Left.

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