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Boosting Your Franchise with the Power of Social Media

By: Jania Bailey

 

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The consideration of social media as an effective marketing tool has continued to become one of the strongest factors in representing brands across multiple industry channels. Simply put, social media can no longer be ignored. From nightly news broadcasts with instant Twitter feedback (note the famous “Blue Bird” logo) to the unrelenting force that is Facebook, social media is being harnessed to reach your targeted customer base in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a couple of years ago. And you, the prospective franchise owner, may need an education in its effectiveness.

 
Where do you stand with your social media efforts? Maybe we should first ask if you are engaged at all with social media. If not, fear not. Social media may appear complicated and vast, but tried and true efforts are easily accessible to the small business owner. In fact, they were at your fingertips all along. Allow us to present you with some standard social media practices which, if utilized properly, can expand your marketing reach and efforts. Today, we’re only going to focus on the so-called “Big Three”: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
 
Facebook isn’t just for sublime quotations from famous people and keeping up with your niece’s baby pictures. While the majority of users create personal pages to share their lives with one another, businesses have found that without the famous “F-style logo” on their website, they may be missing the proverbial boat. People who have no problem setting up a personal page of their own may find themselves scared stiff to create a page on behalf of their business. However, it can be achieved in a remarkably similar fashion. Moreover, specific step-by-step instructions are online and awaiting your review and attempt. To break things down, you create the profile for your franchised business, and then begin to engage with your customers. While “Likes” are certainly a feel-good exercise, what you are really looking for is consistent engagement with your customer base. If you haven’t already considered the creation of a Facebook page for your small business, there’s no time like the present to begin.
 
Are you part of the Twitterverse? Undoubtedly, many people have heard about Twitter for the wrong reasons. To the casual observer, the social media entity certainly seems like a sure-fire way to get in hot water by posting the “wrong thing.” But its simplicity and reach cannot be ignored. The immediacy of its effectiveness as a communication tool is clearly its strongest asset. Setting up a Twitter account on behalf of your franchised business is about as difficult as signing up for a free Gmail account. Upon doing so, we envision you sitting back and proposing a logical first question about the service of Twitter. Well, what do I tweet about? Well, gee…do you have any specials you’d like to offer your customer base? Perhaps you might be planning an event in the near future? Is there a discount you wish to offer only your Twitter followers? All of this is possible…140 characters at a time. And after setting up your account, you’ll get to add the famous “t-style” logo on your website…right next to the Facebook icon.
 
Last, we come to LinkedIn. Known as a powerful force in the business world, LinkedIn has been described as “Facebook for Business Only.” The layout is somewhat similar; you get to create your own business profile and can even split that into individual employee profiles (which we strongly recommend). LinkedIn offers you the chance to “connect” with other like-minded businesses, people, and, yes—even your future customers!
 
Once all three of your social media outlets have been created, you should know that there are several free online tools at your disposal to maximize your efforts to update your customers through the channels. There is no reason to take individual time to create posts, updates or offers—unless that method is preferred. For example, a program called “HootSuite” will update all three of your social media sites at once!
 
There is a caveat to creating these social media entities. You must continue to build them up, adding “Likes” (Facebook), “Followers” (Twitter), and “Connections” (LinkedIn). When you’ve set up the three sites, your journey has only just begun. Just like anything else in life, you’re going to get out of it…what you put into it. Regardless, when it pertains to social media efforts, it’s time to get in the game. Anyone who has witnessed the “next generation” of your customer base, glued to their mobile devices, knows this to be true. Be not afraid! The power of social media is waiting for you to harness its incredible usefulness and reach.
 
This article was originally published by FranNet
Published: September 11, 2013
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Jania Bailey

Jania Bailey is president/COO of FranNet, North America’s most well-respected franchise consulting firm. Bailey sits on the board of directors for the International Franchise Association (IFA) and is a certified franchise expert. Her background includes over 25 years experience in the banking and franchise industries.  Bailey also authored the book, “Thriving – The Journey to Success in the Business World.” 

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