By Lauren Shirreffs
In today’s world, social media is commonplace. It also plays a valuable role for brands, in terms of gaining recognition and connecting with customers. With the growing popularity of vertical video on Instagram Reels and TikTok, business owners have stopped asking why they should be on social media and started wondering how they can stand out in a crowded marketplace.
For franchise brands, this is particularly unique, because while the franchisor must develop and communicate the brand effectively, it is best done with the franchisee in a cohesive and consistent approach.
There are a few key tactics which will help franchises connect with customers and boost visibility. However, it is important for them to have an open mind and be willing to step outside their comfort zones, to ensure the best possible social media presence.
Focus on agility
All brands must start with a strategy—their plan for success on social media. This should cover everything from brand messaging, tone and voice, and visual representation to reputation management and social listening. However, with ever-changing social platforms and new networks joining the ecosystem, it is imperative to build a strategy that is agile.
Social platforms mature and evolve, algorithms create change, and new apps emerge and quickly sweep up the attention, so social strategies must be flexible. As a result, teams should set up times, potentially quarterly, to revisit their approaches and analytics, and update their strategies for continued success.
If your franchise collaborates with franchisees on social media efforts, a detailed social media policy is also recommended. With a social media policy, companies can ensure overall brand consistency, set expectations for online behaviour, and offer support and guidance to franchisees.
Do your research
Should your brand be on TikTok? Is it time to shift advertising spending from Facebook to Instagram Reels? Is it worth trying to advertise on Facebook Messenger?
All these questions can be answered if the right research is done upfront, to understand the use cases for new social media products, and where the demographics of a brand’s customers live online. New platforms require additional effort and resources, so it is important to be strategic about where to plant content. Do not post on TikTok just for the sake of posting. Understanding the value of being on certain platforms can help franchisees chart out their process, build excitement, and monitor incremental growth in more meaningful ways.
With no risks, there are often no rewards. Many brands are seeing rewards due to their efforts on TikTok. According to a report from TikTok and marketing firm WARC, 80 per cent of users say the app helps them “get ideas about brands and products they’d never thought of before.”1
This presents a valuable opportunity for brands willing to take risks on a newer—and more demanding—network.
TikTok is more than a video channel, and spreads more than additional awareness of a brand. In fact, 92 per cent of users have engaged with the content, followed a brand, or researched or purchased a product after watching a TikTok.2 If franchisees determine the demographic of TikTok users fits their target market, then it is worth adding to the brand’s social media strategy.
To keep communities engaged, there must be consistency in posting and keeping all social networks up to date with relevant content. Watching analytics to learn when the audience is most active can be very helpful in creating a successful posting schedule. Finding a happy balance between various content mediums (such as video, static posts, and stories) should also be determined and well-maintained, with a goal to provide quality over quantity. Channels are becoming more and more demanding, requiring frequent videos or postings for visibility. However, with a well-thought-out advertising plan and compelling, creative content, a little bit can still go a long way and prove successful in delivering on a social media plan’s goal.
The proof is always in the numbers, as they rarely lie. Accountants know this, and so do social media teams. Stay close to analytics and monitor them weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Benchmark your brand’s online success against competitors, and really take the time to design a comprehensive analysis to understand the rewards of the efforts being made. Franchisees may be surprised by the findings, and this can help them improve monthly growth, overall engagement, website traffic, and so much more.
Listen to customers
An effective social media strategy considers both the outbound content and the inbound content. The best part about social media is the bridge it creates between brand and customer. It is a direct line to their needs, desires, feedback, and complaints. To be successful in social media is to find the best way to connect with customers. Most of the time, it is by answering their concerns, surprising or delighting them, asking for their feedback, and connecting through two-way communication. Not only will this build trust and loyalty, but it can also humanize a brand. People want to feel heard, especially by their favourite franchises.
Collaborate with influencers
Nothing speaks to a brand like a customer. These days, testimonials look a bit different, with creators and influencers collaborating with brands to share their experiences. Usually when brands seek visibility on new channels, or within their desired target markets, partnering with an influencer is the most effective way to do so. These personalities already have curated medium- to large-sized communities of trusted viewers. They can help introduce (or reintroduce) a brand to an already active community, which can result in faster online growth, positive online sentiment, relatability, and of course, more customers.
Today’s popular social media platforms present abundant opportunities for franchise brands, and with the growing need for video content, the creative ways to communicate key messages are plentiful. Taking the time to properly plan and monitor analytics along the way will provide the valuable insight needed to know where to improve, how to adapt, and how to deliver quality content to customers.
1 For more information, visit https://www.tiktok.com/business/library/TikTok_Publicis_WARC_WhitePaper.pdf.
2 For more information, visit https://arkeagency.com/news/tiktok-releases-global-user-insights-report.
Lauren Shirreffs is the founder and CEO of 2Social—a women-led Canadian digital agency that delivers full-service, community-minded marketing solutions to organizations and franchises across North America. Known as a brand nurturer, expert digital storyteller, and passionate problem solver, Shirreffs continues to be at the forefront of social media innovation and has built 2Social into a thriving bicoastal agency with offices in Toronto and Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.2socialagency.com.