If you work in marketing with or for a franchised organization, you have likely had a conversation about the pros and cons of each individual franchisee and/or location having a unique Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. that lives separately from the “corporate” brand account.
What is the right answer? It depends, of course.
If you have ever worked with franchisees, you know the following to be true:
- They know the operations of their business inside and out.
- They work long, hard hours maintaining their business, filling in for workers that don’t show up, training and managing the day-to-day in general.
- They think that their location/market/store is different than every other location/market/store in the system.
- They readily admit that marketing is not a strength or focus and greatly depend on corporate support for marketing and advertising programs.
The challenge for marketers at the corporate level of a franchised organization comes in the contradiction of those last two bullet points above: franchisees want their marketing/advertising localized, but they want corporate to do it. This might work if there are only five locations in system, but how is a corporate marketing team supposed to localize 200, 500 or 1,000 different stores on a daily basis, or even multiple times a day, as demanded by social media fans and followers?
Individual location social media accounts work well when:
- The franchisee uses social media personally and understands its value.
- The franchisee (or someone the franchisee designates) is posting authentic and original content, unique to that location, in real time. The benefit to “local” is actually localized content.
- The franchisee (or someone the franchisee designates) is willing to follow standards determined by corporate to maintain the brand integrity.
- The franchisee (or someone the franchisee designates) actively responds to customer comments on the social channels and knows when to elevate them to a corporate level.
Franchisees rarely have capacity for this kind of time investment. And marketing can not possibly know what is happening day-to-day in each individual location to be able to localize the content from a distance for large franchise systems.
If a budget exists, either from the corporate level or at the franchisee level, hiring someone locally to keep the conversation relevant and alive is one viable solution for maintaining an individual location’s social media profiles. With this approach, the corporate marketing team should have a set of brand guidelines – logos, colors, specific words, tone of voice/personality, types of photography, types of content, etc. – that is shared with the person/agency hired to manage the local social profiles. And corporate should have access to modify, respond or delete any content that is not consistent with those brand standards.
If there is not a budget available to hire local support, and a franchisee can not commit to management of the social profiles herself, then it is truly better for all parties to use the corporate profile managed by the corporate marketing team.