Social media can be an effective way for franchises to deliver web content and to keep in touch with customers, but it can also serve as a valuable tool for finding prospective customers in conjunction with basic inbound strategies. Depending on your franchise, there are many ways to find and reach out to potential customers via social media channels.
Here are five basic guidelines for finding customers using social media without spending extra ad dollars:
1. Use Twitter's search and advanced search functions
Twitter can be used to find folks that are talking about your business. Even if searching for your franchise's name doesn't reveal much, you can search for keywords that describe your goods or services.For example, if you own a bakery franchise with locations in Milwaukee and Madison, you could search for tweets containing "cookies Milwaukee" or "donuts Madison."
Once you find people talking about your business or area of expertise, chime in on the conversation. The key here is to make sure you are being helpful and contributing in a meaningful way. Avoid overly promoting your business or simply focusing on getting a sale.
2. Make frequent use of image-based posts.
Facebook statistics indicate that image-based posts drive twice as much engagement as text-based posts. As a bonus, when your followers share or like your images, it also shows up on their friends' timelines. This exposure can grow your social media audience and widen your prospective customer base.
While finding an image to include in your post is probably relatively simple, it's important to follow guidelines for image sizing, which can be different depending on the platform. Check out our post covering the latest social image size guidelines to learn the specifics.
Once you've got your image size down, focus on the image subject. An that is obviously a stock photo may not resonate with your audience. We've found that our clients who post their own photos that highlight their staff or events earn the highest engagement, likely because it shows the human side of their business.
Taking the use of images one step further, if you have the capabilities to create and include videos in your posts, definitely do so. You've probably seen your own social feeds being taken over by video over the past few years and there is no indication that the trend towards using video is going to slow down. To learn more, visit HubSpot's blog post covering the latest visual marketing statistics.
3. Use contests to boost engagement.
People love free stuff. What better way to get folks talking about your franchise than to run a social media contest for free products and discounts? Contests can widen your field of website visitors, and can also gain your franchise profile valuable social media buzz.
4. Post different content to different social channels.
You should be posting new website content like blog posts or special offers on all of your social media pages, but it's also important to post unique content to each channel. If you have followers across several social channels, they will be more engaged if they are seeing varied content and posts.
One thing to keep in mind with this general recommendation: every business is different. Depending on your target market, you're likely to see the bulk of your followers on one or two different platforms. Don't spread yourself too thin focusing on all of them. If you find the channels that your prospects use and engage with them there it's alright to maintain a less active presence on the other networks.
5. Personally engage followers.
One of the biggest social media challenges for franchises is engaging effectively with customers. Humanizing your franchise on social media channels and personally interacting with followers can help bridge this gap. That means replying to questions or commenting on posts that your followers leave.
Applying these five simple and free ideas to your franchise social media marketing strategy can help you find more prospective customers. The biggest takeaway, however, is to constantly be testing and updating your social strategy. With the speed of change in today's digital world, following the same plan you implemented at the dawn of the social media age will end up costing you. While it does take time to keep up with the latest recommendations and best practices, it's worth your while.
Looking for more ways to improve your franchise's digital presence and earn more customers? Check out our guide to Franchise SEO in 2019.