As you consider your decision to purchase a franchise, you are most certainly also weighing the other commitments that go along with running your own business: employee management, day-to-day operations, sales, marketing and more.
By buying into a franchise, you're buying into what should be a working and easy-to-duplicate system that, when followed, will lead you to success.
It's important to consider what the franchisor has incorporated into that system. Is there a set sales strategy and process? Likely. Is there a system for hiring and managing employees? Likely. Is there a system for daily operations? Likely.
Is there a system for social media communication? Unfortunately, likely NOT. In fact, in a recent study only 2% of franchise systems with head offices in the Greater Toronto Area actually had a franchise-wide social media system in place.
Yikes. This is bad news for you if you're buying into a franchise that falls into the other 98%.
Does it mean you should walk away from an otherwise fantastic franchise opportunity? Absolutely not. It is, however, something you should plan for in advance.
Without support from your franchisor in the area of social media, here are the crucial questions you'll need to answer:
What ongoing social media platforms do I need to participate in and how?
You need to participate ONLY on the platforms where your customers are actively engaged (and you don't have to tackle all of them at once).
Let's make it simple:
Pick one or two social platforms where your audience is already actively engaged.
Post content on a regular basis.
Monitor and respond to all user interactions. This is CRUCIAL!
Engage daily (comment, like, retweet, favourite, reply, etc.) with your local market.
Where do I get content?
Most likely your franchisor will have loads of resources such as images, videos and/or articles (depending on your industry) that you can use both to setup your social profiles and to distribute as content. How do you script posts and decide what content to use? Well, that's up to you, and likely you'll need to create some original content on your own.
How do I manage it efficiently?
This is the hardest part because first you have to make a crucial decision. Are you going to be fully committed to social media or not? For most franchisees, this is a hard question to answer. You have a few options to consider:
Setup the pages and not do anything with them (NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE!)
Duplicate content being distributed on corporate pages. (While this also isn't the ideal choice, if you simply cannot commit to creating your own original content, consider using the corporate content but at different times and in different ways. If they post an image on a Monday, you could use that same image a couple of weeks later with perhaps some different wording that gives a new spin on it.)
Create your own original posts (that include corporate resources and unique content) to distribute in the way that works best to suit your audience.
Partner with other franchisees to share the content creation and distribution work load. You're not competing in the same markets, so there's no reason why you can't work together.
Not to be there at all (also probably NOT the right choice unless you're simply going to choose option 1...in which case this option is better)
Option 3 is by far the best choice when it comes to branding and building relationships with your audience. However, it is also the most time consuming and/or costly. Using an online communication tool like www.hootsuite.com will help with content, and email notifications will ensure you can keep up with customer service.
The second best choice in my opinion is option 4, and my third choice would be option 2. I don't really see 1 and 5 as options...but you have to decide that for yourself.
The best choice is to be honest with your franchisor and tell them that their support in this area would benefit not only local growth but the brand overall. Hopefully they will listen and take action. If not, at least you have a place to start. Ultimately the success of your franchise is in your hands, so don't let the lack of corporate support hold you back. Go for it!