Challenges to supporting Social Media for Franchisees
Digital marketing teams at fantastic brands have long used social media to grow their reach and engagement with their customer base. Add in the complexity of a brand having 100s of physical locations across a wide geography and that complicates things.
When each location or store has its own community to engage with, how can a skilled digital team support them individually and still maintain brand compliance.
Others have written about the challenges of engaging local communities and maintaining brand compliance at the same time such as the excellent Forbes.com article by Fiona Simpson. This leads some retailers to forego local social media, and the benefits of greater reach and engagement, entirely.
The prize of adding local social media to your brand
“We only have a brand page, local pages dilute the brand message” is a refrain I’ve encountered more than once. Dig a little deeper and I might find that the digital marketer had a horrible experience of trying to manage local marketing previously without the proper tools. They believe it is just easier to avoid the scenario rather than embrace it.
This however throws the baby out with the bath water. We have found that, for Irish and UK retailers with 25 locations or more, adding local social media to their brand will exponentially increase their social reach, deepens the engagement with this more local customer base and reduces the CPC as you target multiple small areas rather than a blanket national one.
In this blog, you will find a deep dive on the marketing challenges that we have encountered when talking to franchises by other multi-location brands and how having SocioCommand has helped them to combat these.
The challenges to address for successful local social media
If you break any problem down into its constituent parts though,it can be surmountable. The exponential benefits of cracking local social media is within the grasp of the brands and the individual locations.
- Ensuring brand compliance at a local level
- Independence of location teams
- Digital marketing experience (or lack of it) at a local level
- Governance and access or social media assets
- Visibility of pages, posts and commentary
Ensuring Brand Compliance at a local level
All digital marketers fear a brand damaging post going viral. Whether it’s a US fast food restaurant offering to pay its staff in chicken or a UK gym offering a “slave” workout, ensuring brand compliance is the first challenge for any social media team embarking on local social media marketing. A clear process and set of brand guidelines is the foundation stone for compliance and this should be reinforced through regular training and testing.
Your process also needs to extend to actions around monitoring of assets and posts as well as remedial actions when mistakes are spotted. Having tooling in place like SocioCommand caters for brand compliance will allow for easy implementation of the process and guidelines. For example SocioLocal can require that local stores posts are signed off by central before going live. This checking can be done continuously or until the central team is comfortable with an individual's understanding of the guidelines.
Independence of your location teams
Every business is different. The relationship between a strong brand team and owner operated outlets is very different to one where the business is driven by independent franchisees and supported by a central team.
Your business model may stretch from: having the central team as the only team with access to local pages; through both teams working on different posts; down to stores driving posts with the central brand teams posts being only suggestions for the store team.
Your tooling has to be able to fit your business model and ideally should be as flexible. SocioCommand and SocioLocal allow you not only to use different business models but to employ different business models for different sets of stores.
Digital Marketing experience (or lack of it) at a local level
Your local store team will be focused on selling and generally won’t be social media experts on top of that. Having a person identified as the social media expert and trained in the guidelines and processes will normally be as much as you can expect. Guide rails can be established to support them and enable them to do what they need to at a local level. Whilst it will vary from customer to customer, the tasks we would see local staff fulfilling include:
- Signing off on suggested promotional posts/ads. This is helpful from a local stock control point of view. There is no point promoting products that aren’t available in the store at that time.
- Ability to create replacement posts. If a suggested post is not appropriate for a particular store, does the staff member have access to alternative assets to create a different post at that time.
- Inserting hyperlocal engagement posts. The local under 10s are in after winning the county cup for ice cream, that’s a photo you want that store’s community to see
Governance and access or social media assets
As a central brand marketing team do you know everyone who has access to your local stores social media pages? I have even seen the situation where a store no longer has access to their own page as it was being managed by a now departed member of staff.
Generally businesses have strong IT governance over all their internal systems but quite often social media pages that bear the brands name and can cause brand damage are outside of this domain. Not only can a tool like SocioCommand ensure that you retain visibility and access to all branded social media assets but that store staff can have their access restricted to the SocioLocal tool so you can be confident if they leave you retail ownership of the page.
With access comes distribution. A number of businesses who come to us handle distribution of branded content for Social Media to their outlets using email or content sharing tools. Whilst content sharing tools sees better compliance for general posting, both see low compliance rates when it comes to time bound posts. Need a post for Valentines Day to go out by your stores selling fresh flowers between 10am and 11am the day before? Best to do that through SocioLocal.
Visibility of ownership, pages, posts and commentary
I have come across businesses who are employing social listening tools primarily to listen to what their own local stores are posting or what comments are coming on those pages. Top marks for ingenuity, bottom marks for internal control.
Keeping on top of who has access to what branded pages, what posts are going out on these pages and the comments coming back will let a central marketing team sleep easy knowing they are on top of any legitimate branded media.
If you have 100 physical locations with 200 social media pages, this shouldn’t mean that you need a team to stay on top of this. Having them all brought into one simple interface like SocioLocal means that this can just become part of your daily routine.
So is the local juice worth the squeeze?
The answer to this all depends on perspective. If you already have an estate of locations with their own pages and the above challenges sound familiar, then this article will give you immediate relief and you are probably ready to talk to us. If you are on a marketing team that only currently has national brand pages then the above challenges may all sound daunting. That doesn’t need to be the case however.
First find out how much juice you’ll get. We have a calculator on sociolocal.ie that shows you what additional reach you can expect your brand to get adopting local pages.
Second, look at how you can control the challenges above and we can show you how SocioLocal can assist in managing and controlling this for you. In the end, the additional engagement your locations receive, and the translation of that to sales, is the best juice you’ll ever have.
What is your experience?
We’d love to hear if the above chimes with your experience or have you found some way to break this cycle? What method do you use to get your store’s local pages to accurately post your key social media?
We are always happy to hear from retail digital marketers interested in maximising their return from local social media. Book in a call if you'd like more information.