Social media is an ever-changing animal – and something that everyone claims to be an expert on, but does a true social media expert actually exist? As Jack Monson of Qiigo puts it, “It’s still too soon to tell evaluate the long-term effects of social media.” In franchising, it’s crucial to stay on top of social media best practices, whether geared toward existing fans or franchise prospects.
To discuss this hot topic in franchising, the Women’s Franchise Network held an event on October 13, chaired by Allison Grow and Antonia Scholz of Cheng Cohen LLC, at No Limit Agency in Chicago called “Social Media: Beyond the Basics.” The panel featured four panelists: Bridget Vetter, Manager of Marketing and PR at Toppers Pizza; Dana Farber, Director of PR & Brand Development at The Barre Code; Kyle Welch, President of Chicago Scoops and multi-unit franchise owner of Cold Stone Creamery; and Jack Monson, Director of Digital Marketing at Qiigo.
I was lucky enough to get to moderate the panel, which featured a true dream team of participants who were eager to share their opinions and experiences in the social media space. Each offered a different perspective, with Bridget and Dana representing the franchisor, Kyle offering franchisee insight and Jack with the supplier take.
During the event, the panelists discussed a variety of topics. One of the more engaging topics was customer support and how brands have shifted their social strategies to accommodate customers’ increased reliance on social media as a way to communicate with brands. The group was in alignment about the need to respond to any feedback, positive or negative, almost immediately, because usually all that a customer wants is for their voice to be heard – quickly.
The panel also highlighted the importance of “surprise and delight moments,” with both Kyle and Bridget mentioning that they utilize this strategy with customers on a regular basis, providing free food upon a Facebook check-in or to celebrate a special occasion. They both have experienced success with this strategy, with fans sharing the moment with their fan base and extending the reach of their “good deed.”
We touched on best practices on aligning a brand’s social media footprint across its franchise system. Some folks strongly believe in every single location having its own social media channels in order to respond directly to customer complaints and provide local flavor. Others feel that depending on the size of the company, social media is best left to the experts at corporate. Regardless, all parties agreed that no matter who is running the page, keeping a flow of fresh content is key.
Finally, we discussed the effectiveness of Facebook’s advertising tools to appeal to potential franchisees as a cost-effective and highly targeted strategy. LinkedIn was discussed at length as a way to connect with like-minded business folks and spread the franchise messaging in a forum designed for business.
Whether consumer facing or targeting potential franchisees, it’s clear that social media remains top of mind for everyone in the franchising industry. Hearing different points of view on the subject matter was refreshing – and as social media evolves, those in franchising need to stay on their game to keep up.