As a multi-location business, your franchisees must all be on the same page when it comes to digital presence, especially during times of crisis. All local pages need to be claimed and consistent, and this is increasingly true on social media. Brand consistency is a key component when it comes to keeping your consumers informed. Whether you already have a healthy local social media strategy in place for your franchise, or are beginning to plan one for the inevitable rebound that will come after this pandemic, this blog provides useful insights.
Develop Brand Guidelines
The first thing you should do when developing a social media strategy for your multi-location business is determine brand guidelines.
Brand guidelines allow your multi-location business to:
- Differentiate your business from competitors
- Develop a personality and identity that prospects can relate to
- Create customer loyalty and trust
- Position your brand as an industry leader
It’s clear that branding is essential for your business locations, so how can you implement it into a localized marketing strategy?
While you want to give local franchisees some control over their marketing initiatives based on data and feedback from their local area, you also don’t want your locations to be inconsistent across your brand. Inconsistency will confuse customers and harm your brand identity.
The key here is to offer some leeway and have a set of non-negotiable branding elements and a set of negotiable or changeable items that each franchise owner or local marketing manager can work with.
There are a few basic things that should be consistent across all of your local social pages. For instance, each local social page should have some variation of your brand’s logo as its profile picture to help with brand recognition. A consistent naming structure for your pages is essential as well. If you work for Domino’s Pizza, your local pages can be named “Domino’s Pizza – [location name]” or some variation, as long as it’s consistent.
There should also be a conversation about what you expect in terms of engaging with your audiences across platforms. How quickly should your franchisees be responding to comments on social media? How should they respond to negative feedback? These are conversations that should take place between corporate and local marketing managers to ensure your local locations have a consistent social media strategy across franchise locations.
Focus on Formatting and Tone
Regardless of the type of content your franchisees are creating, it’s crucial to pay attention to brand voice and formatting. While the tone of voice can vary slightly for localized content, it should be pretty consistent with the tone in the branding guidelines. When a consumer is looking at your brand across local pages and platforms, they should not notice any big differences across pages.
The same goes for formatting. You should be formatting your images and content to be visually appealing to local target audiences, and not changing drastically from post to post. It’s imperative to keep a consistent look and feel for both corporate and localized content. Additionally, make sure to look at image pixel requirements for each social platform and ensure the images match those requirements. While franchisee marketers certainly don’t need to be graphic designers, there are tools like Canva that can help you create professional-looking images relatively easily.
Hashtags can also help your franchise dominate its social media strategy. As a franchise, you should pick a few key branded hashtags to use consistently across all locations, and encourage franchisees to develop a local list, too. The use of ongoing hashtags can help with brand awareness and consistency.
Once it’s determined how your franchise will keep branding and formatting consistent, you can start developing a content plan.
Create a Content Plan
Planning a content plan for your franchise will help ensure your franchisees have an ideal mix of both corporate and localized content on social channels. It will also ensure that some franchise locations don’t have inactive social channels, while others are posting daily. Corporate can create monthly or quarterly content plans with brand-approved posts, then each franchisee can supplement that strategy with hyper-local posts.
The content corporate develops can be used by local franchisees to ensure a consistent posting strategy.
On the other hand, localized content can include:
- Special promotions that are running at a specific location
- Upcoming events Group photos from your location
- Relevant location-specific news/updates
- Highlights of happy local customers
Adjust Your Content to the Times
While a content plan is typically very helpful in keeping your social media strategy organized, it’s important to be ready to adjust your content plan at the drop of a hat. For instance, while we are currently in the midst of a pandemic, your franchise should re-evaluate your content strategy. Right now, there is no business as usual. Your franchisee locations should be acknowledging this time of crisis. Keeping consumers informed is critical, along with updating local business hours and expressing empathy with your consumers.
If your business is experiencing some down time during this pandemic, it is a great opportunity to start building out your content plan and social media strategy for when this crisis subsides. It’s always important to be thinking ahead, so now is the time to start thinking about how you can speak to your consumers when all of this has passed. For instance, you may want to create content around finally being able to leave your house, or spend quality time with friends and family that people couldn’t interact with during the quarantine.
While the current pandemic situation is very specific, in other instances you may have to adjust your content to a lesser extent. For example, if there was a big news story that was trending nationwide, your franchises would adjust their content to speak to what was going on in relevant news.
Use an Approval Workflow
Now that you are aware of how to create a strong social media strategy for your franchise, how can you ensure that the correct content is getting shared? That’s where an approval workflow comes in. Your franchise should have some process in place to review the social content that local franchisees are sharing.
For instance, there are platforms that allow franchisees to post their scheduled content, allowing corporate to approve the content if necessary. There are also social media tools that allow you to schedule your content ahead of time and monitor your engagement on social media. Looking at performance metrics will help you understand how your content is performing, and allow you to make optimizations.
Once you have your approval workflow set up, your franchise should be ready to go. With brand guidelines, a well thought out content strategy, and approval workflow, your franchise will be in a position to crush the social game and stand out from competitors.
This blog was written by Darcy Bickham, Content Marketing Specialist from SOCi, the leading centralized platform built specifically for “next-level” multi-location marketers.