Franchise marketing is no easy task, especially when having to appeal to both a larger brand and your local target audience. A franchise is a company that is individually owned by someone, a franchisee, who has a license to use a brand’s assets, including the logo and name, and conduct business as that brand. The license is granted by the parent company which is known as the franchisor. This means that the franchisee can run the day-to-day operations as an independent owner would while also receiving support and brand recognition from a larger corporation.
Because of the relationship between the franchisor and franchisee, there are certain rules that must be followed, including how your business’s social media channels should come across to users. Not only is this a unique marketing challenge but it’s also an opportunity for success and growth. Here we’ll help franchise owners navigate social media marketing in ways that are specific to their goals. We will look at how to weave in a local, personal feel while adhering to larger franchise requirements.
To begin, franchise marketing is actually very similar to small business marketing in that the goal is to raise brand awareness with a target audience in a specific market and drive sales. When starting any social media marketing plan, the first step, regardless of business structure, is going to be defining and mapping out goals. However, where it is different with franchise marketing is in brand-specific rules that limit some of the flexibility independent small business owners have. But don’t worry, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that franchisees often have to work a little more at making sure they not only stay on brand but that they are also able to stand out as a local business as well. Let’s see how to do that.
Having the parent brand’s recognition and established reputation is a huge plus for franchisees! Unlike small businesses, on day one, everyone in town already knows about them, what they do/serve, and what people think about them. What is more, they have access to digital assets such as the logo and oftentimes, social media templates, making the marketing process a lot easier. On the other hand, having the “big” corporate support and recognition can make a local message a little harder to get across.
With a huge focus on supporting local businesses, many people don’t consider a franchise as a local business. The truth is, they are. Franchises are owned and operated locally. Not only do local owners know their community best, but they can communicate their brand’s mission the best way to their community meaning more conversions! Conversions not only support business goals but marketing goals. Although they are part of a larger company, they are a business in the community, employing local residents, engaging with the local community. In many ways, they are a local business so their marketing should have a local focus.
Once a franchisee has the corporate playbook complete with all the do’s and don'ts for using the brand’s logo and name and adhering to any other specified rules, a marketing plan can be built within those parameters. Since every corporation is different, not every suggestion will apply to everyone. Nevertheless, here are some ideas to weave local into global.
Utilize the professional brand content provided. This content is most likely professionally created by the corporate marketing team at the company headquarters and made available to the franchisees. That’s a big perk - having someone create a portion of the content for social media! Franchisees can take advantage of the great content and work it into their local marketing strategy around it.
PLANOLY Pro-Tip: Make the content created or provided to franchise owners (you) by the parent company a content bucket. This makes it easier to create a unique and local content strategy while also staying true to the overall brand.
It is important for franchisees who wish to go local with their social media marketing to know and follow the rules. Make sure that whoever is running the social media for each franchise location is trained and knowledgeable about the corporate rules. This includes the brand guidelines which will specify how the logo can be used and the general tone of their content strategy.
Let’s take a look at an example of a franchisee doing this balancing act super well! Everyone knows McDonald's, right? However, does everyone know where Buda is? Many Central Texans do. What’s happening at the McDonalds in Buda, TX doesn’t really apply to what’s happening at one in Los Angeles, CA. This is where local marketing comes in.
On the local Buda, TX McDonald’s Facebook page, viewers can see the store’s specific location, hours, and contact information. They can also see corporate messages and specials such as special and seasonal items. Then, the Buda, TX McDonalds keeps it local with a post of a tractor pulling into the drive-through and a caption, “uhhhhhhhhhhh something’s coming.” National or global gyms are great examples of franchise businesses. For example, Orange Theory, Soulcyle, Equinox are all global brands but location-specific as well. Most recently Austin, Texas had its annual Austin Marathon. The marathon’s route runs on the same street as the gym. The Austin Equinox could have created a post or shared a post, email, or SMS text that provided alternative ways to get to the gym that day.
If advised, create social media accounts specific to your business’s location. This is a great way to target local audiences and create community engaged and updated on the franchise business’s updates or upcoming events. Note: Include the business’s address and contact information in your bio. This will make it easier to communicate with local customers.
Here's an example of an Orange Theory gym location sharing location-specific engagement:
SMS marketing is great at reaching the existing customers and maintaining them. Not only does it update on events, but notifies them about specials or events.
#3 Analyze Your Target Audience
To target both your company's audience and local audience, stay true to your companies voice while also marketing to the demographics of your local business. Check out Instagram analytics or our own premium Instagram analytics with our analyze feature to learn in-depth audience insights.
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how a giant franchise can get local on social, what will you create?