This article appears in the September/October 2013 issue of Business Franchise Australia & New Zealand
Social media offers the perfect opportunity for franchise businesses to enhance their relationship with customers and prospective franchisees.
Capitalising on social media does not mean spreading a business or brand’s presence across as many applications as possible. Franchise businesses should be strategic about which applications can increase their visibility to their customers. It is important to analyse your customers’ browsing and buying behaviour before deciding which social media platform will be most useful to connect with them and tell them about your brand.
Relevance is Key
The target market and the content that influences them and their decisions determine the relevant social media platform for a business. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are great examples of applications that are likely to connect you to potential customers, particularly those who consume social media at a rapid rate.
Pinterest is a virtual pin board which can be utilised to post images of the goods you provide, locations of your franchises and links back to your website, promoting referral traffic. Photos of what you offer customers can be labelled under categories,
and as friends share images you have posted, the images will also reach a broader range of users. Pinterest is a targeted social media platform which promotes the sharing of content, primarily images but also video. Existing and potential customers are more likely to engage with you online when you connect with them and provide visual content and information relevant for them that they can access easily. For franchise businesses, a blog is the perfect social media tool to post advice and interesting information for potential customers and is likely to drive hits to your website when further information is required.
Engaging on Social Media
Franchise businesses interacting with their customers using Twitter or Facebook ultimately increase consumer advocacy.
All social media accounts should be linked to one central hub of information – a franchisor’s website.
Franchise businesses across Australia should prepare now before Facebook Graph Search is rolled out in Australia, as it has the potential to revolutionise the way businesses engage with customers online. Essentially, it is Facebook’s own search engine and it uses friends, their interests and ‘likes’ to answer search queries. If your franchise business has a Facebook page, Graph Search will allow you to research potential customers and search phrases such as ’people between the age of 25 and 35 looking for coffee’. This can provide your brand with very valuable consumer insight.
For a social media and online strategy to effectively influence potential target consumers, franchise businesses should have a clear promise of delivering on service, quality and value. By aligning themselves with a promise, franchise businesses will be more capable of putting out consistent messages to attract the right customers.
Connect to your customer
Every franchisee needs to be across the target audience, competitors and external factors, such as changes in regulation or changes in the buying behaviour of your target market. Knowing what content your competitors are posting online and which
online campaigns are effective is invaluable too. Knowing your customer will help guide you on how to capture their attention online.
Mobile marketing is growing at an exponential rate. People are using their smart phones to source information instantly and to find businesses, products or services online. The ability to connect with potential customers through mobile marketing is
growing rapidly in line with the growth rate of people searching online for consumer products. Mobile friendly websites will allow a business to specifically connect to consumers who are actively searching for particular goods or services. Having a mobile friendly website will capture these consumers while they are on the go.
Ben Bradshaw, founder and CEO of multiaward winning online marketing company SponsoredLinX, recognises that marketing via social media can also directly translate to an increase in customers. As an entrepreneur who built his business from a one-man team to Australia’s largest online marketing company, Ben attributes his success to online visibility.
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