Building a community for your local franchise is a powerful strategy to remain relevant and build local visibility. Encourage your franchisees to build, grow, and strengthen their local social media communities in the areas your franchise network operates.
Social media and content marketing are crucial to businesses today. Maintaining a social presence is often a requirement for staying top of mind with customers, building trust and keeping an open line of communcation. Plus, it acts as an important source of information in the buying process, as consumers are increasingly valuing more localized businesses and social content.
This presents an interesting opportunity for franchisees and multi-location businesses. While a franchise location can take advantage of the power behind their brand name to win business and trust on social media, it can also present itself as a small, local business ingrained within the local community. An individual location can enhance the parent brand and build its own social media community of local customers, potential customers, and contacts in its very own neighbourhood.
Having a community on social media offers many benefits to a franchisee. Most importantly, it allows a franchise location to build local relationships and market to current and potential customers with localized messages and offers to generate more foot traffic, usually at a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing channels.
The benefits don’t stop there, though. A local social community can also help to recruit new employees and, more importantly, act as a customer service tool to respond to local customer inquiries, resolve complaints or issues, and encourage engagement with the brand on a local level.
How can you build a community around a local franchise?
Building a community on social media isn’t just about growing your followers, although that may also be an objective. Building a community involves ensuring you’re creating a space where your ideal customer and audience will find value and assist you with achieving your goals.
The first step to building a social media community is to start with a social media strategy.
Instead of posting content only in the moment, a social media strategy ensures every post you share is working towards your business goals, whether it be brand awareness, sales, or countless other objectives.
Creating and posting educational and entertaining content, encouraging engagement, and answering customer comments and questions can be key components in your strategy to grow your community and engage with your followers.
To help optimize your strategy, spend some time getting to know your local target audience or ideal local customers. This ensures you’re targeting those ready to engage with you and that your content will attract the desired audience. Not only will you want to look at who your audience is, but also what their pain points are, their aspirations or goals, and how you as a business can solve their problems and offer solutions.
You’ll want to be proactive and responsive when communicating with your community.
Be sure to ask questions that will spark conversations, and try to reply quickly when customers engage with you in the comments or DMS. You’ll likely have customers asking specific questions about services, products, or business hours which is an excellent opportunity to expand the community, encourage engagement and create a positive view of the business. Most social media platforms allow you to set up notifications and alerts to new comments and activities, making it easier to respond quickly.
Creating a social media strategy, knowing your customers, and communicating with them can help businesses grow their online community. As a franchise, you have the opportunity to do this in a highly local way. Local content creation could include:
- Specific topics that your local residents will find interesting
- The use of local hashtags from your city or town
- Local images, slang, references or jokes specific to your area
Part of your social media strategy should include ways to grow the number of followers on your social account. As a franchise, here are some unique ways to do so:
In-store: This might be the strongest way to grow your following as it’s the most personal. This could include signage about your local social accounts, information printed on the receipt, or verbally telling customers about your social accounts and what they can find there. You could also incorporate specific promotions or contests to encourage new followers or shares.
Engage with local businesses, groups, and events: This engagement can be in person or on social media. Partner with community members and other businesses; if you show support, they will likely return it. You’ll also want to look for local groups with a natural connection to your business and share valuable information rather than selling your products or services.
Collaborate with local influencers and customers: User-generated content from existing customers often offers the biggest impact for small businesses. It has much more impact than what you post about yourself. You can get this content by asking customers to share posts on their social accounts or holding a contest encouraging them to share posts on social media.
You could also partner with local influencers to create specific content. These influencers have a local following, and smaller micro-influencers (also called “nano-influencers”) can be a cost-effective way to create more awareness for your business.
Social media should be thought of as your digital storefront, and building and maintaining a community can offer tangible, impactful benefits for a local franchise.