When it comes to social media marketing, franchises have the unique opportunity to create powerful content machines that churn out hyper-localized, authentic, and highly engaging material across multiple markets.
The problem is, this opportunity is rarely realized as it requires franchises to manage localized content strategies at scale, while ensuring that these strategies align with the broader marketing and branding goals of the business.
Scaling different content strategies across various markets can seem like a daunting task. Franchises frequently take a conservative approach to social media by denying social media managers the autonomy needed to provide hyper-local, authentic, and often remarkably creative content to their respective audiences.
Their social strategy is centered around minimizing risk rather than maximizing value. This is a huge mistake for many reasons.
Despite the unique challenges of social media marketing for franchise businesses, it’s a marketing vertical that can’t be ignored.
The benefits to customer acquisition and retention alone can be profound, and a strong social media strategy that scales across markets will have tangible, long-term impacts on individual franchise locations.
Compared to multi-million dollar national ad campaigns that local franchise owners often see no direct benefit from, a well-executed social media marketing framework empowers franchisees in a tangible way and provides an ongoing ROI that will scale as the franchise grows.
In the same way a franchisor gives a franchisee access to physical assets (hardware, branding materials, etc.), franchisors can do the same for a social media marketing framework.
As a franchise scales, social media becomes increasingly difficult to manage centrally and a trade-off between the personalization of content and the consistency of content is often made.
To understand why this happens, let’s take a look at two key problems franchises face when managing and scaling social media across markets:
These problems only get bigger as a franchise grows, and they demonstrate why franchises often play it safe when it comes to social media. Negative and inconsistent social experiences are extremely damaging to a consumer-facing brand, and franchises assume they lack the resources needed to control and vet the quality of personalized content coming from various (sometimes completely autonomous) social profiles.
This is why franchises often adopt a rigid, cookie-cutter social media strategy designed to mitigate risk, not maximize value.
A cookie-cutter social media strategy sacrifices engaging, hyper-localized, and creative content for the sake of brand consistency, risk-reduction, and simplicity. In the process, this kind of strategy eliminates almost everything that makes franchise social media marketing a powerful way to engage and grow a customer base in the first place.
Fortunately, this is not a sacrifice or trade-off you need to make. Creating authentic, hyper-localized, and engaging content at scale does not have to be at odds with the consistency of your brand’s voice, nor does it have to be a time-consuming, risky, and inefficient process.
A well-designed content governance strategy, tailored for franchises and implemented with the right platform, is the secret sauce that allows franchises to have the best of both worlds.
In the broadest sense, content governance is the set of procedures and rules organizations use to manage the creation and delivery of content across channels. Essentially, content governance ensures that an organization’s content creation process results in output that is aligned with its broader business or marketing goals.
A content governance system serves to mitigate the aforementioned issues that come with content production and distribution at scale – issues that are amplified for franchises since they churn out large volumes of personalized content to different demographics.
A good content governance system eliminates content chaos and ensures that a single source of truth and protocol informs the content creation process.
For franchises, this means that social media managers will have the power to quickly and easily leverage local knowledge and flair in their content creation process, while at the same time operating within clearly defined workflows that ensure consistency and quality.
Well-documented branding guidelines and protocols
Effective content governance must include branding guidelines and practices (many of which should be non-negotiable) that ensure consistency in messaging. This includes the obvious, such as color palettes and logos, but can also extend to broader rules regarding verbiage, voice, etc.
Branding guidelines ensure that social content is always on-brand and unified, even when produced at scale across different markets.
A centralized asset management system
An organized asset management system allows franchises to take centralized content initiatives and deploy them at scale without the need to be hands-on. Centralized asset management allows franchises to scale unified content strategies efficiently across multiple markets.
For regional or local social media managers, a strong asset management system provides direction and guidance without compromising the ability to tailor and personalize content for local markets.
Clear and scalable workflows and roles
For franchises, effective content governance requires clearly defined roles that work within clear and visible workflows. What does this mean for social media marketing?
Essentially, the processes for creating and publishing content on social channels should be consistent and highly visible. There must be a clear and shared understanding of ownership, accountability, and contribution, which ensures that content is always created and published efficiently and with the necessary checks in place (proofreading, formatting, etc.).
Whether social media is managed by individual franchisees or regional marketing teams, clear workflows and roles allow everyone involved in the content creation process to work efficiently and effectively (and as a team!).
In addition, engaging or interacting with audiences on social media should also be defined by clear and visible workflows. These generated social experiences play a large role in a franchise’s social presence and need to be strategically governed in the same way that content is.
Understanding the requirements of an effective content governance model for franchises is one thing. Creating and implementing the model is a different story altogether.
Successfully implementing a content governance strategy for social media depends heavily on the platform used to schedule and publish content on social channels.
The platform used to manage social media should provide all the tools needed to facilitate and enforce a content governance strategy. This means robust support for collaborative workflows, role-based permissions, asset management, and obviously publishing and scheduling.
There are multiple social media marketing platforms that provide these features, but Socialbakers combines them all with a focus on ease-of-use and scalability. With Socialbakers, it’s astoundingly simple to create and implement a social media strategy that adds value to your overarching brand while also empowering local franchisees.
There can be a lot of risk with expanding to the franchise level, but success at that level of course comes with big rewards. While it can be tempting to play it safe in some areas in order to minimize that risk, it’s important to remember that franchises are really local brands, and local brands need to be talking to their local audiences.
A good plan and the necessary tools to implement them are important foundational pieces, but the key is to provide the autonomy to produce creative content that reflects both the overall brand and the authentic values on the local level.
Before Socialbakers, Chushi worked at an early stage SaaS startup in silicon valley as a marketing generalist. At Socialbakers, he works as a content marketing specialist.