How to use social media for your business
64 percent of the UK population have got an active social media account. Whether youíre fanatical about Facebook, inspired by Instagram or transfixed by Twitter, chances are that you spend time visiting one or more social media platforms on a daily basis.
If you want to become a franchisee, or already have a franchise of your own, you need to be aware of the crucial part that social media marketing plays in generating brand awareness. Increasingly, franchise brands are turning to the more cost-effective and efficient social media sites to communicate with their prospective and existing customer base.
With more than 42 million active social media accounts in the UK, it's the best place for you to share your franchise news, products and services. Not only that, but sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are great for building your brand identity and recruiting talent.
How to build a social media profile for your franchise
For franchise brands to win over an audience, franchisees need to have the freedom to bring the franchise to life through effective social media content. It may seem counterintuitive at first, but going in with the hard sell on social media is more likely to put customers off than encourage them to visit you.
Your social media posts should really take a much softer approach. Share franchise news, opinions and facts, but only if the customer will find the content engaging. Bombarding social media sites with posts filled with aggressive sales techniques or tedious business information will end up with you having fewer followers and fans than if you did nothing at all.
Successful franchises apply four rules to their social media posts. They only share content that is:
It can be challenging to find the right blend of these elements from the get-go, but get it right and you'll benefit from a rise in sales and improved brand awareness.
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Why should I promote my business on social media?
Though you might be contributing to your franchisorís national marketing campaign with your franchise fee, it doesnít hurt to complement it with some local social media promotion. And if the franchisor doesn't advertise the franchise on your behalf, there's an even more significant incentive to get your social media marketing strategy right.
Social media posts donít just enable you to promote your business; they also allow you to inject your personality into the posts. This is more likely to engage an audience than generic advertising, which may not resonate with them. If potential customers are compelled to like, share or retweet your posts, they are more likely to want to do business with you.
How much freedom do I have to market my business?
To find out what your rights are when it comes to marketing your own franchise, it's worth checking your franchise agreement or directly talking with the franchisor. Theyíll be able to tell you what is and isn't permitted when it comes to social media. In a lot of cases, you'll find that it's a requirement that you create a social media presence as part of the contract.
Depending on how confident you are with social media, you may wish to ask the franchisor for help in the beginning. Successful franchises tend to have pre-agreed templates and content ideas to get you started.
The importance of personality on social media
While this support will probably be welcomed at first, remember that customers buy from people, rather than businesses. As you gain confidence, post content that reflects your personality and what the brand stands for in the community.
Of course, there will be some limitations that the franchisor may have set, but at the end of the day, this makes sense. Franchise brands need protect their reputation and stay consistent across their social media channels. Without that, their brand identity can become fragmented across different territories.
How to make your business go viral
Once youíve checked your social media obligations and limitations with your franchisor, take some time to look at what your competitors are doing. For you to engage with your target audience, you need to differentiate your franchise from other similar businesses. Copying the content that another brand is using will not set you apart, but doing some market research might give you some ideas for your unique content.
Remember that social media success is based on engagement, so consistency is key. You don't want to post for the sake of putting content out there, as this will negatively affect the relationship that you've built with your audience.
However, if you're not posting regularly, you'll be forgotten amongst the thousands of other businesses using social media. The optimum number of posts per week varies, but there are plenty of tools available to help you tweak your strategy Ė just make sure that all your posts are interesting, educational, informative or entertaining.
Is social media marketing expensive?
When compared to traditional advertising methods, social media marketing is a fraction of the cost. For no cost at all, your social media posts can organically reach thousands of potential customers.
The amount of money that you need to invest in your social media strategy is dependent on what you want to achieve with it. Letís have a look at some of the things that should determine the amount of cash that you invest in online content:
- The amount of people that you want to target
- The kind of engagement that you want to create
- The amount of time that you want your advertisements to be live
To guarantee engagement, you can buy pay-per-click advertisements on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. They only run until the number of people your budget allows click on it. So, the bigger your budget, the more people it will reach.
Finding your target audience
With time, youíll gain knowledge of when and who to promote your franchise to. Being able to pinpoint your target audience will save you on costs and produce more meaningful engagement. At the end of the day, it doesnít matter how many impressions your tweets receive; whatís important is that how many of those impressions lead on to real sales.
How can I benefit from social media marketing?
There are many advantages of social media marketing for your franchise. These include:
- Flexibility. With social media, you can update your audience with franchise news, share a video demonstrating a new product, add photos to generate interest and much, much more. Its flexibility is only limited by your imagination and your appetite for producing content.
- Itís the best way to interact with your customers. Unlike any other form of marketing, social media allows you to have a direct, real-time conversation with your audience. That can make customers feel more valued and more willing to pay attention to your promotional material.
- You can collect plenty of useful data. Information on your customers should always be collected after any marketing campaign. With analytics tools offered by social networks like Google and Twitter, you can access this information immediately and for no cost at all.
- Itís a level playing field. Social media doesn't care if you're a global brand or a new franchise start-up. A bigger budget doesn't mean a better campaign, so businesses of all sizes have a good chance of catching the attention of potential customers.
- Itís cost-effective. Compared to the cost of a nationwide television campaign or putting up a billboard, social media promotion doesnít cost much at all. If you donít want to pay for promoted tweets or updates, you can even attempt to grow your following organically for no cost at all.
Examples of viral social media campaigns
A number of franchises on our network have launched campaigns on social media that have generated plenty of clicks. To help to inspire you to take your franchiseís social media game to the next level, letís have a look at two examples from our network:
Autoglym was caught red-handed this year for an April Fools video that poked fun at car-cleaning enthusiasts. In the parody video Ė which was shared multiple times across the brandís social media following - ĎMarkí from Autoglym was shown demonstrating a multi-wash bucket technique. Before long, Mark has to watch his step to avoid tripping over the many buckets that surround him and his squeaky-clean car.
This jokey video from Autoglym is a great example of how video content can gain traction on social media. On Twitter alone, it brought in hundreds of likes and plenty of engagement with Autoglymís profile.
In January of this year, Subway launched a tongue-in-cheek ad campaign that shows customers eating the fast-food chainís new range of subs in ridiculous scenarios. In one of them, a couple having a romantic dinner at home are both left embarrassed when the man reaches for a falafel sub from underneath the table rather than the engagement ring that the women was hoping for.
The fact that massive brands like Subway, which already enjoy high-level of brand awareness, are investing heavily in their online strategies is proof that social media has value for businesses of all sizes. It doesnít matter if you want to partner with an internationally known company or a small-scale franchise; social media is essential for driving sales, engagement and interactions.
James Muddimer , Point Franchise ©
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