First, let’s start with a story.
Anna owns a company with twelve locations. She inherited the company from her father, who knew nothing of social media. Anna, however, knows quite a bit. So she helped each location’s manager create social media accounts.
She began optimistic.
Until it happened.
Confusion, that is.
Some managers updated often, which Anna cheered. Others abandoned their accounts. Some posted brand related articles, while others posted irrelevant nonsense. Some received good customer feedback on the location’s service, while others had inappropriate comments.
Quickly, Anna learned: social media challenges franchises.
Challenges, however, are good. Without appropriate challenges, businesses won’t grow. So here are seven challenges franchises should expect.
7 Social Media Challenges to Franchises
1. Choose the right social media site.
Many franchises try to use every social media account. While this may work for corporate marketing, it becomes troublesome for franchisees, whose social media team may be one manager and a few employees.
So limit yourself. Social media challenges franchises most when social media is uncontrollable. The easiest way to maintain control is to know which social media account fits your business’s purpose. LinkedIn, for instance, works better for B2B companies than Pinterest, and Twitter works better for news sharing than for photo sharing.
2. Know your target age group.
Part of the challenge is knowing who you’re trying to reach.
At first, you want to reach everyone: kids, parents, educators, business leaders. As you continue using social media, however, you’ll notice different age groups use different sites. Most adults use Facebook, the younger crowd uses Pinterest and YouTube, and business leaders and professional use LinkedIn.
3. Maintaining brand consistency.
The most basic social media challenge facing your franchise is brand identity.
All of your locations have a unique story—employees, customers, managers, location, environment, neighborhood, people. The challenge comes when your franchisees decide to share these stories through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, or LinkedIn. They’ve got things to say. You’ve got a brand message. And both need to cohere.
4. Unused social media accounts, or “ghost towns.”
A third common social media challenge is the ghost town effect.
Sometimes, franchisees create social media pages without asking the franchisor. Then, without notifying anyone, they stop using the page. Slowly, steadily, but certainly, the page ages. Days, weeks, months pass. And nothing happens.
Ghost town pages are extremely dangerous. For not only do they give a bad impression of the brand, they turn customers away. When I see a business page that hasn’t been used in three, maybe four months, I assume they gave up, went out of business, or died. So I leave.
Exterminating these pesky rats is even worse. Facebook is pretty good at it, but LinkedIn and Twitter are notoriously difficult. To get started eliminating ghost town Facebooks, see this page.
5. Social media spawns embarrassing slip-ups.
With many accounts, control lessens, making mistakes easy. To propound the problem, anything—literally, anything—can be said over social media. All it takes is one slip-up and boom. A bad story is made.
Consider, for instance, the infamous Chrysler tweet:
“I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f**king drive.”
What happened? As the story goes, an employee from Chrysler’s social media company accidentally tweeted from Chrysler’s account and not his own. Chrysler quickly deleted the tweet. But the damage was done. And look. Three years later, we’re still talking about it.
Slip-ups like this can be avoided. But nonetheless they are scary. But sure to create some guidelines before you create accounts for your franchisees, something like “I promise not to use the company franchise page outside of the office.”
6. Social media distracts from the real task of selling.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all have social media gurus in our franchisees?
That’s the ideal. But almost never the reality.
Social media challenges managers when it becomes a distraction and not a tool. If you’re not reaching the right audience, if you can’t seem to maintain brand consistency, then maybe social media isn’t for your company.
7. The Bad Feedback
Maybe you’ve seen this before. You’re on a franchise’s Facebook or Google+. You look through the comments and see a long, usually grammatically incorrect, paragraph. A customer had a bad experience, and now he is venting on the Facebook page.
Comments like these give off a bad impression. The best way to handle them is to respond. Don’t let that comment sit on your page like breadcrumbs in your beard. Do something. Say something. Ensure the customer his next experience will be better. Give him a coupon. Tell him his profile picture is nice. But whatever you do, don’t be silent.
What to do with these 7 Social Media Challenges?
If you’re a franchise owner, regional manager, or franchisee, you can come to at least three conclusions.
- Social media is too challenging—thus too time-consuming—and should be avoided by franchises.
- Social media and franchises are incongruous with each other.
- Social media and franchises are suitable for each other, but like any relationship, certain challenges must be overcome.
I’m not hiding anything: I support the third conclusion. With 72% of all internet users now active on social media, businesses cannot avoid their social media responsibilities.