How Franchisees Can Use Social Media To Differentiate Their Services
While arguably now in its adolescence, social media still has the power to boost the awareness of a business via a single medium. Brands including Paddy Power, Wendy’s or Tesco Mobile all recognise that social media isn’t used for the hard sell, but to engage and be a part of online culture.
Social media is no longer the straight-forward advertising platform it eventually became. Where once you could pay for a series of Facebook ads and call it a day, now you need to research wider cultural trends and mimic conversation. Audiences aren’t just smarter, they’re familiar with brands trying to fit in.
Consequently, it’s never been harder for businesses to convey their message without being accused of ‘cashing in’ on culture. However, as the aforementioned brands have shown, there’s still a way of standing out from the competition on social without looking too corporate. Here, we’ll show you how.
Talk like a human
Ensure you create a mix of posts – some that advertise a product or service and some that provide insight or entertainment – as well as share other people’s content. Fact is, social media is not a marketplace – at least not to the user. While plenty of marketing work is being conducted behind the scenes, if a user gets the scent of a sale, there is a good chance they’ll dismiss the ad.
Being authentic generates engagement. Users like brands to have personalities, and without one, your posts may disappear into the algorithm. It’s important to maintain your established tone of voice; if everything else about your brand is formal, just adapt this slightly for a platform like Twitter. Talk about issues in the industry and be helpful to those who want to find out more about your service.
Users know that social accounts are a good place to achieve action – as EasyJet sadly found out in August 2019 when attempting to ask a customer to delete a complaint. Being transparent and useful with your social media extends your customer service (as well as your outreach) and differentiates your brand through empathy.
Aim for actions not numbers
If you want to see results from social media, go beyond simply chasing likes. While important, you can drive a lot of resources into gaining a following only to get a minimal response in return. It’s very much about quality over quantity – a thousand followers who ignore your posts are worth less than a hundred who regularly interact.
Usually with social media – even if users have chosen to follow you – your posts need to garner engagement for more people to see them. This is because the platform ‘learns’ that a post is interesting to users and may appeal to others.
Consider posting industry trends, insider success stories or even fluff content relevant to your target market to create that interest. Decide the kind of action you want people to take after reading your posts and encourage them to engage in that manner (‘share this news’, for example).
According to Forbes, 65% of us are visual learners. This explains why news sites often break down stories using infographics and why posts that include images result in 650% higher engagement than text-only posts. Ultimately, we enjoy visual stimulation when using social media.
Even if your business isn’t inherently visual, you can still capture the importance of your work through imagery. Factsheets and infographics are ideal for professional services franchise businesses for example. They compartmentalise significant information so that users can easily digest the content.
This extends to videos as well. If you produce posts that hold your audience’s attention, Facebook (and other social media) will reward you by sharing your content with similar audiences. Most competitors won’t necessarily be doing this, and if you’re just starting out, being smart with your content can truly pay off.
Unlike other tips in this guide, this suggestion is time-sensitive. It also requires the individual responsible for your social media accounts to be particularly social savvy. To capture a trend is to capitalise on a certain news story being widely discussed online. For example, clothing giant ASOS took the opportunity to promote a product while EasyJet were experiencing their PR nightmare.
Seems simple right? You’d be surprised at how often big businesses misjudge consumer trends. Take Snapchat in 2018, when they posted an ad that asked users whether they would rather ‘slap Rihanna’ or ‘punch Chris Brown’, just a few years after Brown was charged of assaulting Rihanna. The backlash caused stocks to drop by 4%.
The above is an extreme example, but it highlights how ignorance is never an excuse. So, be sure to choose trends that you’re confident won’t lead to a public outcry. For startup franchisees, for instance, try differentiating your posts by capitalising on local issues and headlines from regional newspapers.
Monitor what works
Lastly, but most importantly, evaluate your content. This isn’t a perfunctory exercise; you need to be sure that you’re informing strategy with statistics. Invest in social media analytics software or set aside the time to look through your impressions and reactions yourself.
Any hits and misses will guide further efforts. If you’ve been trying to share industry news and noticed that none of your followers are engaging, try a lighter piece on local issues. Seeking to gain market share from local businesses? Ask nearby companies and individuals for their thoughts on regional concerns.
At Rainbow, our approach is to share strategies that work internally and act as a repository for ideas that support franchise business success. However, we’re always looking for new ideas. So what do you think differentiates your service, and how do you convey that using social media? Be it tone of voice, type of content or visual accompaniments, join the conversation on our Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.