As a multi-location business, your franchisees must all be on the same page when it comes to digital presence. All local pages need to be claimed and consistent, and this is increasingly true on social media. Plus, with digital advertising getting increasingly saturated, brand consistency is vital to standing out amongst the competition in the digital landscape. Whether you already have a healthy local social media plan in place for your franchise, or are just getting started, this blog can provide useful insights. 

Establishing Brand Guidelines

The first thing you should do when developing a social media strategy for your multi-location business is determine brand guidelines. Before we get started with how to build brand guidelines, let’s take a look at why they are essential.

Branding allows your multi-location business to: 

  • Differentiate your business from the competition
  • Develop a personality and identity that prospects can relate to
  • Generate trust and authority among your target audience
  • Create customer loyalty and trust
  • Position your brand as an industry leaders

It’s clear that branding is essential for your business locations, so how can you implement it into a localized marketing strategy? 

While you want to give local marketing managers some control over their marketing initiatives based on data and feedback from their local area, you also don’t want your locations to be inconsistent across your brand. Inconsistency will confuse customers and harm your brand identity.

The key here is to offer some leeway and have a set of non-negotiable branding elements and a set of negotiable or changeable items that each franchise owner or local marketing manager can work with.

There are a few basic things that should be consistent across all of your local social pages. For instance, each local social page should have some variation of your brand’s logo as its profile picture to help with brand recognition. A consistent naming structure for your pages is essential as well. If you work for Anytime Fitness, your local pages can be named “Anytime Fitness – [location name]” or some variation, as long as it’s consistent. 

There should also be a conversation about what you expect in terms of engaging with your audiences across platforms. How quickly should your franchisees be responding to comments on social media? How should they respond to negative feedback? These are conversations that should take place between corporate and local marketing managers to ensure your local locations have a consistent digital presence and maintain a positive online reputation. Once it’s determined how your franchise will keep branding consistent, you can start developing a content plan.

Developing a Content Plan 

Developing a content plan for your franchise will help ensure your multi-location business has an ideal mix of both corporate and localized content on social channels. Corporate can create monthly or quarterly content plans with brand-approved posts, then each franchisee can supplement that strategy with hyper-local posts.

The content corporate develops can be used by local franchisees to ensure a consistent posting strategy. 

On the other hand, localized content can include: 

  • Special promotions that are running at a specific location 
  • Upcoming events 
  • Group photos from your location 
  • Relevant location-specific news/updates
  • Highlights of happy local customers

When local franchisee marketers are drafting localized content, it’s crucial to pay attention to brand voice and formatting. While the tone of voice can vary slightly for localized content, it should be pretty consistent with the tone in the branding guidelines. If someone is looking through your local social page, they shouldn’t be able to recognize that the posts are coming from two different sources – corporate and local teams. 

The same goes for formatting. You should be formatting your images and content to be visually appealing to local target audiences, and not changing drastically from post to post. It’s imperative to keep a consistent look and feel for both corporate and localized content. Additionally, make sure to look at image pixel requirements for each social platform and ensure the images match those requirements. While franchisee marketers certainly don’t need to be graphic designers, there are tools like Canva that can help you create professional-looking images relatively easily. 

Hashtags can also help your franchise dominate its social media strategy! As a franchise, you should pick a few key branded hashtags to use consistently across all locations, and encourage franchisees to develop a local list, too. The use of ongoing hashtags can help with brand awareness and consistency. 

Using an Approval Workflow

Now that you are aware of how to create strong content for your franchise, how can you ensure that the correct content is getting shared? That’s where an approval workflow comes in! Your franchise should have some process in place to review the social content that local franchisees are sharing. If you don’t already have a platform to help you do this, that’s where SOCi comes in! 

SOCi allows you to create, host, and share libraries of brand-approved content with your locations and gives you the tools to publish content to hundreds or thousands of local pages seamlessly. Also, SOCi’s location grouping, scheduling with peak traffic tools, and approvals help you deploy brand positive messages to multiple pages simultaneously during the times of highest local engagement.

If your multi-location business uses SOCi’s platform and notices that one franchise location is posting content that doesn’t align with brand guidelines, corporate can go in and edit the post, or leave a comment explaining why it should not be shared. 

Once you have your approval workflow set up, your franchise should be ready to go! With brand guidelines, a well thought out content strategy, and approval workflow, your franchise will be in a position to crush the social game and stand out from competitors!

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